Gallery update Rock in Rio 1985


19 January 1985, Queen performed their second night at the massive ‘Rock in Rio’ Festival, the biggest music festival in history at a custom built arena nestling in the mountains at Barra Da Tijuca.

The place is 250,000 square metres in size and about the length of a small airport. It’s not your usual site with tacky old hamburger stands either. There’s a shopping centre with more than 30 shops, a fast food centre including the world’s largest McDonalds, a fully equipped hospital and flush toilets and showers.

You could land a jumbo jet on the stage, which is 21,000 sq feet in size with revolving sections to move equipment around. Twenty tons of lighting equipment with 160,000lbs of sound equipment belting out 500,000 watts of power have been flown in. The arena has its own electric sub station.

Rock in Rio should play to 3,000,000 people beating the Guinness Book of Records champion, Watkins Glenn festival in 1973, which could only manage 600,000.

Queen hit the stage once again at 2 AM as the closing act for the festival and playing to a staggering 250,000 to 350,000 (possibly in the upwards of over 400,000 according to sources) enthusiastic fans! Their largest paying audience!

The only thing that marred it was the weather; it had rained almost constantly for eight days, after which the festival site looked like a muddy swamp than a field. This didn’t dampen the atmosphere at all, the fans were still enthusiastic watching their musical heroes knock out hit after hit!

The second night in Rio is as epic as the first…. The band give their all in a show that would turn out to be a final farewell. This concert marks the end of Queen’s love affair with South America, a continent where the band played a dozen shows to over a million people.

After ‘It’s A Hard Life,’ Freddie begins his vocal duel with the audience with a few bits he used in ‘Now I’m Here’ a few years back. At the end of it, he proclaims, “Everybody’s beautiful”.

He does some superb improv at the beginning of ‘Now I’m Here.’

As Brian introduced ‘Love Of My Life’: he says, “You want to sing with us? Alright. Well, this is especially for you.” He changes the subject briefly, saying “I hope you’re not too wet out there,” as it continues raining throughout the show. He then says, “I have to tell you that this song is very special to the people of South America, and we thank you very much for making it special throughtout the world. This is called ‘Love Of My Life.’”

As seen on the video released, both he and Freddie are clearly moved by a quarter of a million people, most of whose first language isn’t English, singing the song perfectly. The audience chant Brian’s name throughout the interlude, and in the emotion of the moment he has to carefully make his way through it. Absolutely beautiful!

Freddie’s emotive ending to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is one-of-a-kind.

Like last week, Freddie introduces ‘Radio Ga Ga’ – the only times he would do this. And by the way, you should have seen 300,000 hands clapping in unison for ‘Radio Ga Ga’. What a sight!

In light of last week’s incident, Freddie doesn’t come out with his boobs and wig for ‘I Want To Break Free.’

Negotiations started directly after the festival for Queen to purchase from ‘Globo’ Television, the rights to their section of the unforgettable show, so they could release the footage at a later date. Queen could do no wrong in South America and the rights were quickly granted – many other bands at the festival had made similar requests but were refused!

On February 25, Brian would make a guest appearance on a radio show and he actually acted as the DJ for an hour or two. He had a few words to say when asked if he had an outstanding memory from Rio:

“Just looking at the crowd, really. We never quite believed that it was going to happen and we were going to get quarter of a million people a night or whatever, and it just actually happened. They all rolled up and one night it was pouring with rain and they were still there until two in the morning from four in the afternoon. It was very well organized and very well lit which is unusual so you could actually see the audience very well, all in pools of different coloured lights. I think there is going to be a video of that some time and perhaps people will be able to see, but it was quite something I must say. And there was the feeling of it being the first time, which it was, because there never was that much rock and roll in Rio. Now there is mate, I tell you!”

Fun Facts: Rock in Rio in numbers

The City of Rock, which was built for the festival, covered an area of 250,000 m2 (around 2.7 million square feet)

1,600,000 litres of beverages were served, using 4 million plastic cups.

* 900,000 hamburgers.

* 500,000 pizza slices.

McDonald’s sold 58,000 hamburgers in a single day, which was a Guinness World Record until the fourth edition in 2011, where 79,000 hamburgers were sold by Bob’s.

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