21 February 1974 – Queen played “Seven Seas of Rhye” on “Top of the Pops” replacing David Bowie, London.

A pivotal moment an “unknown” band stood in for David Bowie on TV and found fame

A video with a pre-recorded performance of David Bowie singing his latest hit ‘Rebel Rebel’ had failed to arrived at the studios and the show was in panic.

With no recording in sight, the video would have to be dropped and a new band found at the last minute to perform in David Bowie’s place.

A young, unknown band called Queen, made up of four youngsters from London, were suggested as an alternative.

The bandmates, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor, who were still students and not even performing with the band full-time, seized their moment.

The song Queen performed was ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’, written by Freddie Mercury, it was the third single released by the band.

The rare footage of the momentous performance was feared lost in 1975, but was found and restored in the nineties.

The video fluctuates between black and white and colour as Freddie Mercury and his bandmates own the stage and give their all to what was at that time, the biggest performance in their young careers.

The appearance was a hit with Top Of The Pops fans and after the show was aired, the ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’ shot to popularity.

The single was rushed to vinyl just two days after the performance and the thrilled members of Queen got their first song in the UK singles chart, eventually peaking at number 10.

With Queen’s boost of overnight fame from their ‘Top Of The Pops’ appearance, they released their second album Queen II, just three weeks after the performance.

When their sophomore album came out, those who heard it were impressed and spiritually uplifted. Queen had arrived in style and Freddie could give up his weekend job at his clothing stall and concentrate on the great times that lay ahead.

This album elevated the band to Rock Royalty!

Brian May later recalled the exciting moment the band made their TV show debut.
Speaking on 2011 the Queen documentary Days of our Lives, Brian May recalled: “It was an exciting experience, because hey here you are on Top of the Pops and it’s all happening.”

Queen wowed the world and were not even playing their own instruments for the performance that made them famous, just goes to show how much charisma and stage presence the four students from London naturally possessed.

The rest, as they say, is music history.

“Seven Seas of Rhye” written by Freddie Mercury from Queen’s sophomore album Queen ll

Here’s the TOTP clip

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