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 5 March 1976 – Eddie Howell “The Man From Manhattan” 7″ single released, Freddie Mercury (producer, piano and backing vocals) Brian May (guitar).Eddie Howell’s ‘Man From Manhattan‘ is one of the best known and best loved of all Queen’s collaborations.This track was recorded in mid January 1976 at Sarm East Studios in London, the song was produced by Freddie Mercury (this was one of Freddie’s first production’s), he also played piano and sang backing vocals on the track and featured Brian May on guitar. It has a huge “Queenfluence” in it. Mike Stone, the sound genius of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, was the sound engineer in the studio.“Freddie kicked up enough dust during his lifetime to ensure his place among the immortals. Bless you wherever you are Freddie Mercury.” ~ Eddie Howell “I made three singles with Warner Brothers, and then we made an album called ‘The Eddie Howell Gramophone Record’. My manager at the time was David Minns, a friend of John Reid, manager of Queen at the time.

John introduced David to Freddie, and the two became good friends ! I had to play at Kensington’s Thursdays Club to promote the album, with a lot of people from the music industry coming to attend.I had Phil Collins at the bongos; he had played on a lot of songs on the album. David Minns arrived with Freddie. After about 20 minutes, all the power supply to the stage turned off. They tried to stop the show… but Phil kept going with his bongos, so we kept going and turned it into an acoustic show. Then, David insisted that I meet Freddie Mercury, even though I had to see all those record company folks! My wife and I, Freddie and David, Kenny Everett and his wife, all went to a restaurant called The Elephant on the Pier, and I told Freddie about the song I had just written, ‘The Man from Manhattan’, and talking about the mafia. I agreed to send him a demo, which I did the following day. He called me the next day, saying he liked the song and that he would like to produce it.He invited me to his Holland Road apartment, where he had a grand piano. He sat on it and played the song perfectly, although he only had one day to learn it. I went back to Warner Brothers and said that Freddie Mercury wanted to produce my single, and they were over the moon! Because of Freddie’s involvement, Warners gave us a blank cheque. They booked Sarm Studios for the following week – and basically said we had ‘carte blanche’ about recording time!I was excited by the prospect of working with Freddie, but also by the thought of having all the time I wanted to record the song, which I wasn’t really used to!Freddie wasted little time in getting started. ”I gave him a two track guitar/vocal demo of the song” recalls Eddie, ”and a couple of days later he called and said let’s get going.The first day in the studio we were all in awe of Freddie; back then Queen were big, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was a blast and they were huge. But after that first day, we all relaxed and realized that Freddie was a nice guy! Freddie quickly took control of the sessions; ”He did lots of pre-production work on the song’s structure and the harmony arrangements”, reveals Ed. ” He had a mini cassette recorder loaded with ideas for the track, backing vocals and answering phrases”.The tapes took about a week [Freddie said he worked on it for three days], and Freddie’s way of working was great; if things didn’t go well, he just stopped the session and we would go to the local Curry House until we were in the right mood again!My initial idea of ​​the song was a lot of sleazy trombones, really relaxed stuff, but when Freddie heard it, he interpreted it differently.Although he was very democratic in the studio, what we ended up with was not quite what I had in mind! He played large piano parts, and it was his decision to include – and sing – all the harmonic parts.I remember Freddie was always immaculately dressed in his studio days. He was also on time; if he said we had to be in the studio at a certain time, he was always on time.I also remember once Freddie wanted a bell to ring in the song, but the bell had to have the note in D – the studio didn’t have one, so Freddie sent pony expresses (a real novelty!) To scour London and find one. Those guys got paid by the hour for their services, and 800 pounds later… a bell with the right note was found!On the final day of recording, a trio of Warner Bros top brass flew in from California and made a beeline for Sarm East studios to meet Freddie. Recalls Eddie, ”They probably thought the red carpet would be rolled out as they were paying for the recording sessions, but instead they were kept waiting in reception for about four hours. When they were eventually granted an audience, the charm offensive was full on and it was all smiles and bonhomie. At the end of the session, after the final playback, Freddie turned to me and said, ‘If this isn’t a hit, sue Warner Bros ‘ ”.The finished article obviously had a heavy Queen influence with the presence of Freddie and Brian on the track, but ”Man from Manhattan” was far from a tribute to Queen. ”I wrote the song after my first trip to Manhattan in late 74”, reveals Eddie, ”I was reading ‘The Godfather Papers’ by Mario Puzo and the song was about those mafia characters who lead a double life. Musically, I had ‘Dead End Street’, by the Kinks in mind, complete with trombones and a walking double-bass”.When it was issued as a single in 1976, Warner’s publicity department played up the Queen connection as much as they could, and “Manhattan” rapidly became a turntable hit in the UK. The record received heavy rotation on the airwaves – particularly in Europe where it became a big hit. Then, just when it looked set to climb the charts in the UK, the Musicians Union mysteriously discovered that Jerome Rimson, the American bassist hired by Freddie for the sessions, had been working in Britain without a permit. This obliged them to place a ban on any and all further UK media exposure due to his ‘Illegally’ recorded playing. A decision which effectively killed off the record.Prior to the ban, ”Manhattan” made top 50 in the UK, top 20 in Australia, Belgium and South Africa and top 5 in Holland, but sadly, as a consequence of the ban, it was never released in America or many of the world’s other major territories.Warner owned it until recently, it took me 18 months to re-appropriate it, and I created my own label (BUD records) to distribute it.” Having recently regained the rights to his back catalogue recorded during his time with the label, Eddie is now releasing the tracks digitally. ”Man from Manhattan” is first up, more to follow.Source: Jacky Gunn-Smith of the Official International Queen Fan Club interviewed Eddie Howell and later published the interview in the spring 1995 issue of the International Queen Fan Club fanzine