December 9, 1980, Queen performed their second evening at Wembley Arena in London, England 🏴
The incredible legend, John Lennon was tragically killed the night before.
In light of John Lennon’s death the night before, Queen put together a version of Imagine to be performed tonight. Freddie recited the lyrics from a scrap piece of paper. The performance is far from spotless, but any flaws were secondary to the intent. It is clearly an emotionally challenging task for the band to deliver this iconic song written by one of their heroes on such an occasion, and the gesture is much appreciated by the audience who give them a standing ovation afterward. A fan recalls, “I particularly remember Roger being very upset and biting his hand to hold back the tears.”
They skip Jailhouse Rock and Keep Yourself Alive (marking the first time the band play no songs from their first couple albums), and Brian jumps straight into his guitar solo. This would be the last time the band would finish this section of the show off with the ending of Brighton Rock. They probably dropped it because they felt it was too long between songs familiar to the majority of the audience. It would be resurrected for the Works tour in 1984.
Freddie then grabs his 12-string acoustic guitar and says, “Okay, I’m gonna do a Jimi Hendrix impersonation in a song called Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” This off-the-cuff comment perhaps came from him thinking about other rock musicians who had died before their time.
Pete Townshend and his wife Karen attended the show. Pete later remarked, “I thought they were the maddest band I’d ever seen.” He added that Queen were the only band in his eyes that took on the mantle of The Who by doing it their way with a brashness and Britishness that nobody else really had.”
A fan, Angela Whittle recalled:
“I went to the Queen concert on the 9.12.1980 the day of John Lennon’s death. We heard the news at about 11 a.m. in London and so at the concert that night Freddie Mercury sang “Imagine” which was such an emotional moment for everyone in the crowd.”
Here’s the clip of ‘Imagine’ RIP John Lennon