11 December 1975, Queen performed @ City Hall, Newcastle, England “A Night At The Opera” Tour

The following is an interesting excerpt from roadie Peter Hince:

After this concert the entourage moves on towards Dundee, but after only two miles they encounter a road block.

Plain clothes policemen then escort everyone to the local station, on suspicion of being in possession of drugs. The group, crew and tour coach are all searched, before being allowed to continue on their way.

The tour bus was a necessity in America but regulations delayed its introduction in Europe, so in autumn 1975 for the UK Night At The Opera tour, Queen and crew had a standard coach each to travel around Britain.

During a day off travelling from Newcastle to Dundee, the coach was flagged over to the roadside and plain-clothes police ran on shouting: ‘Drug squad! Everybody hands on your heads – now!’

They were no doubt looking for the ‘stuff’. The cops stayed on board keeping a close eye on us all as the driver was directed to the local police station. The search of the bus resulted in the huge haul of half a joint and two small wraps of amphetamine.

During questioning, I was asked to roll my sleeves up so the cop could check for needle marks! He said to me, ‘You look like you take drugs, and you may not think it, but up here [he tapped the side of his head] is a mind ticking over faster than you could comprehend.’

‘Really…?’

‘We can get your visas cancelled – stop you going to the States and Japan.’

As I was led out, I saw Fred being questioned. He was in full ‘glam’ kit in those days; short fox fur jacket, satin trousers, sash, black painted nails, lots of jewellery and carrying his vanity/make-up case.
‘Do you take drugs, Mr Mercury?’
‘Don’t be so impertinent, you stupid little man,’ barked Fred in response as he snapped shut his vanity case and strode out.

It’s true, Fred did not take drugs – then.

Many of us did, and the search by the north-east’s crack squad of ‘top men’ was not particularly thorough. However, we were all very curious to know why the police had mounted such a massive operation. When quizzing some of them as we were released, their reply was: ‘be careful who you travel with’.

We assumed this was a reference to a runner who I’ll call simply Dan (not his real name), who had been fired from the tour. A tenuous friend of one of the crew, he didn’t last long, as he became dazzled with rock’s glitz and glamour.

In Preston, as a gesture, the tour manager gave him some cash and train fare back to London. Dan was not amused, ranting how he would get his own back. He did – he burgled some of our houses. However, when Dan attempted to rob Richie’s home, he broke into the wrong house by mistake. BIG mistake. Richie’s neighbour was a local villain who sported tattoos of spiders on his tongue – and was currently out of prison. We never heard from Dan again…”

Extracted ‘Queen Unseen’ Chapter 12
By Peter Hince