7 September 1982:
Flying on a very special private jet to the next show
We had an idea of what was about to happen, but the reality of the situation was far beyond our dreams. There, alone on the tarmac, glistening in the sun, stood “The Lisa Marie.” It was a renovated Convair 880, private jet once owned and used exclusively by Elvis Presley.
A deal for a Boeing 707 had fallen through, so Elvis purchased this jet directly from Delta Airlines at the cost of $250,000. This would be quite unheard of today for a full-sized jet. Ah, but those were the days! It had been leased by Queen for transport throughout the American part of the 1982 tour.
Freddie loved the looks on our faces as we settled in, and with true Freddie fashion, made us comfortable. Of course, that’s when the party began! The private service team was on board, including an older woman, nicely dressed and highly professional as our personal flight attendant. It was she who ushered us into the jet. I clearly remember Freddie instructing her to basically ignore him and focus her attention on us.
The plane had undergone a $350,000 renovation by Elvis. The original first-class compartment was kept as is. So Brian, Roger and John would all be staying in the first-class section with their relatives and guests. As always, they were very gracious and friendly to all of us. There was a solid wall with a door that closed, which left us to our madness in the back. We would take over the entire back three-quarters of the aircraft, which included a gorgeous full-sized, master bedroom, complete with a large seat belt over the entire bed, and a fully functional bathroom and shower. Between the first-class cabin and the bedroom, all of the seats had been removed in order to make way for a large meeting room/dining room/lounge and bar. It has spacious banquettes including highly polished redwood countertop tables. The full bar was off to the side of this center section. This was perhaps the best “Recreational Vehicle” one could ever ask for!
We were served a gorgeous luncheon on board, and before we knew it, we were landing in San Francisco where we were whisked off to the hotel, and would be staying all in our own separate gorgeous suites at the Four Seasons Hotel. We settled into our rooms, and all gathered in Freddie’s suite with snacks and champagne, and after a nap, got ready for the concert which would be at the Oakland Coliseum. Because Freddie had two days off from tour, there was no telling what would be planned next.
Thor Arnold and Lee Nolan
Freddie Mercury in New York: Don’t Stop Us Now
Queen are on their way to their next gig in Oakland, California (7 September 1982)
The pictures are from the inside of the plane