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,10 November 1978, Queen released their seventh studio album, “Jazz” in the UK by EMI records. It was produced by Queen with co-producer Roy Thomas Baker (this would be the last Queen/Baker production.)

Because of the band’s massive wealth, they were advised to spend a year outside England and take up temporary residency elsewhere, namely the tax exile of Montreux. With that in mind, this was the first album to be recorded outside of the UK.

Sessions for ‘Jazz’ began at Mountain Studios in Switzerland, July 1978 and later at Super Bear Studios in Nice, France. The recordings concluded in October 1978.

Queen were aware that topping the anthems on ‘News Of The World’ would take some doing, so they decided on a more eclectic approach. The result was the “Jazz “ album. Queen was now so very popular they could have come up with just about anything as a title for a seventh disc – whose ever-so-slightly jokey handle (the antithesis of everything punk or new wave) was deemed just-so. But the last thing you’ll find on Jazz is any jazz.

In July 1978, Queen decamped to France, to the same Super Bear studio near to Nice and the agreeable beaches of the Côte d’Azur. The band headed to Montreux and Mountain Studios, part of the Casino Barrière de Montreux.

Mountain studios was used first, this would began a healthy relationship with the city of Montreux, one which would last throughout their career. Queen eventually purchased Mountain Studios in 1979, a canny piece of real estate investment. Resident engineer David Richards asked what they planned to do with the facility, Freddie replied, “Why dump it in the lake, dear!”

(Freddie moved himself to a flat with a view of Lake Geneva, a bolthole that he described to friends as a slice of heaven. “If you want peace of mind, come to Montreux.”)

‘Jazz’ contained varying musical styles that were alternately praised and criticised. While the dramatically different writing styles had been contributed to what made up a solid Queen album, it would seem the band were repeating a formula here. Brian hinted at the mental health of the band during an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1989, he said, “Around the ‘Jazz’ album we were all getting into our own things and nobody much liked what the other guys were doing. To be honest, there were times when we couldn’t tolerate each other off-stage.”

While the band weren’t entirely pleased with ‘Jazz,’ Brian also stated in an interview with International Musician & Recording World, “Jazz was a European-flavoured thing. It was a strange mixture and didn’t click very well in America.” He later told the BBC Radio One, “We thought it would be nice to try again with producer Roy Baker on whom we could put some of the responsibility. We’d found a few of our own methods, and so had he, and on top of what we’d collectively learned before, we thought coming back together would mean that there’d be some new stuff going on, and it worked pretty well.”

Released on November 10, 1978, Jazz was the band’s longest album to that point. It went Platinum in the US, and their love for that country was cemented with another winter tour that took them from Dallas to Inglewood and then home to Britain in time for Christmas. British audiences wouldn’t see them for quite a while, but as usual, it was worth the wait…

The album artwork was suggested by Roger Taylor, who previously saw a similar design painted on the Berlin Wall.

The album’s varying musical styles were alternately praised and criticised. It reached number two in the UK Albums Chart and number six on the US Billboard 200. Jazz has sold over five million copies worldwide.

In a retrospective assessment, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic described Jazz as “one of their sleekest albums.” He cited that the album’s diversity and exaggeration made it “more fun than any of their other albums.”

Alexis Petridis wrote in The Guardian, “Jazz was hysterical in every sense of the word, but the music press comprehensively failed to get the joke, particularly in the US”.

In 2006, Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times included it in his list of “The Great Albums,” describing it as “a genre-hopping tour of diverse musical styles” and concluded that “What ultimately keeps me coming back to the album, however, is that ambiguous sexual energy running through all 13 tracks; the fact that each of them boasts more hooks than some bands have on an entire album, and the inviting sonic density of it all.”

When Loudersound ranked every Queen album from best to worst, Jazz came fourth, as they felt it presented “some of the most satisfying moments in Queen’s career.”

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3 November 2012



A Beautiful and touching poignant interview from Monterrat Caballé.

As a new version of their classic album ‘Barcelona’ is released, soprano Montserrat Caballé remembers the Queen legend.

When Freddie Mercury announced he wanted to record with the Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, everyone, including the other members of Queen, thought he’d gone mad. But he refused to be talked out of it and their first collaboration, on the single ‘Barcelona,’reached the Top 10 in October 1987.

Caballé so enjoyed the experience she suggested they make a joint album of the same name. For 18 months they met regularly to record together. Then, one day, Mercury recoiled as she opened her arms to embrace him. ‘He said, “No, no. I have to talk to you. I’m HIV positive,”’ Montserrat recalls. ‘I looked at him and said, “What do you mean?” I knew many people with HIV and they were well, so I didn’t think it was a problem. He said, “Well, in my case I’ve developed Aids and I don’t want you to catch anything.”

‘At the time nobody knew how it was transmitted and there was a chance it could be through the skin or saliva. I said, “But you’re so strong, and your voice…” He said, “Yes, I am strong. I can do it. I can still record this album.”

‘It was very hard for me to take everything in, though nothing like as hard as what he must have been feeling,’ says Caballé. ‘I was just so pleased he felt able to confide in me. It meant he must have really valued our friendship.

‘Our voices fitted well together and I liked him, respected him and loved his music. It was a special relationship. He said, “You like music in the same way I do.” I said, “Yes, that’s very true.”’

When they sang together to welcome the Olympic flag to Barcelona in October 1988 they performed three songs, including the poignant ‘How Can I go On,’ which addresses the theme of morality. Ironically, it was to be Mercury’s final live performance. Says Caballé, ‘While he was singing I noticed his eyes were shiny with tears. I gave him my hand. He clasped it and kissed it. It was clear he was aware of his own fate. It was his goodbye, at least to the stage.’

She last spoke to him a few months before he died in 1991. She was recording in London and phoned him. ‘He was ill but I wanted to see him. He said, “No, no. Don’t come. I’m not presentable.” I told him I had just recorded for him an aria we both loved from ‘Phantom Of The Opera, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.’ The studio played it over the speakers to him and afterwards he said, “That was wonderful. That’s just like I wanted you to do it. Can you send it to me?” And that was our last conversation.’ The song ends with the refrain, ‘Help me say goodbye.’

With no Freddie to duet with, she declined to sing ‘Barcelona’ at the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympics. ‘Freddie could not be replaced by anybody.’ She says firmly and with great sadness She has never performed the song again.

By: Spencer Bright

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5 September 1985 – Freddie’s Legendary’Black and White Drag Ball’ at Henderson’s Club in Munich. He celebrated his 39th birthday with a bang!

It all started with a beyond flamboyant throw-down in Munich, Germany where Freddie Mercury and a few hundred of his famous friends gathered together for Mercury’s “black and white” themed 39th birthday at the Henderson club. The Henderson was also used by Mercury to shoot the video for his 1985 solo single “Living on My Own” which includes footage shot at Freddie’s extravagant birthday shebang. Two months prior, Queen and Mercury set the world on fire with their set at Live Aid forever setting the rock and roll bar for greatness at a level so high it will likely forever stand as the single greatest live performance by a rock band ever. When Mercury sent out the invitations for his birthday, he requested attendees dress in drag and only in black and white. Mercury, of course, came as himself, because of course he did.

As unhinged as Mercury’s behavior could be behind-the-scenes there isn’t much evidence to cite his zealous pursuit of good times altering his ability to slay with his four-octave vocal range and commanding stage presence. To say nothing of the stone cold fact, Mercury knew how to party—something I’m sure you’ll be in agreement with after checking out the photos of Freddie partying like a pro. It was the party to end all parties.

More here

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4 November 1974 – BBC Radio One aired “Now I’m Here”, “Stone Cold Crazy”, “Flick Of The Wrist” and “Tenement Funster” recorded for BBC’s Sounds Of The 70s programme.

Queen headed off to their first American tour, opening for Mott the Hoople. But they were forced to pull out when Brian May came down with hepatitis. During sessions for the band’s next album, May was felled by a duodenal ulcer, which sent him to the hospital. When he recovered, work on “Sheer Heart Attack” was well under way. It was a more straight forward rock album, with a lead single that was irresistible: the sparkling hit “Killer Queen.”

But oddly enough, when the band recorded their next BBC session October 16, 1974, at the network’s studios in Maida Vale, London, they didn’t record a version of their latest single. And they again used the album backing tracks, overdubbing new vocal and instrumental parts, meaning the songs for the most part don’t sound too different from the album.

The band opened with “Now I’m Here,” which was frequently used to open Queen’s live shows during this period (it was also released as a single in the U.K., reaching No. 11). The fast rocker “Stone Cold Crazy” was next, followed by “Flick of the Wrist” (with a different guitar line during the instrumental break compared to the album version), then Taylor taking over on lead vocals “Tenement Funster.” The show aired November 4.

It was the last BBC appearance Queen would make for three years. They didn’t know it, but they were on the verge of a major breakthrough. On October 31, 1975, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released as a single in the U.K. (U.S. release came on December 2).

The song was a worldwide smash, as was the subsequent album, “A Night at the Opera,” which became the band’s first album to top the charts in the U.K. (in the U.S., the album reached No. 4).

Now there was no need to try and build a following through radio appearances. Queen had become a major act, with their December 24, 1975 show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon broadcast live to a nationwide audience; soon they’d graduate to stadiums, selling out Madison Square Garden!

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13 April 1985, Queen performed at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.
“The Works Tour “

This outdoor show was Queen’s first and only concert in New Zealand.

Queen were a half hour late going on. After soundcheck Freddie Mercury got very drunk with Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, sharing entire bottles of vodka and vintage port. Hadley was around only because his band’s New Zealand tour dates had been suddenly cancelled while playing in Australia, and later in the evening he would clearly ignore his manager’s warning to keep a low profile.

In 2011, Brian May and Roger Taylor recalled the evening in the extras of the Days Of Our Lives documentary. Their intro music (an arrangement of Machines, off The Works album) was already playing and a few people in the backstage area were frantically helping Freddie get into his tights. “You stupid c***s, you’ve put my tights on back to front!” cried Freddie part way through the proceedings. With the clock ticking, the laces of his boots were untied and his boots came off and the tights were properly put on. Freddie made it to the stage with literally seconds to spare.

After the second song, he shouted, “Hello, New Zealand! We’re gonna have one motherfucker of a time!” Both Brian and Roger recall Freddie when started Somebody To Love and forgot what song he was playing. In 2011, Roger added, “The first half hour of the gig was terrifying for the three of us because we were playing like trojans to make up for Freddie’s deficiencies.” Spike Edney also recalled that Freddie was “ad-libbing, making things up, singing crap” for the first half hour.

Between songs (probably after the medley of old songs), Freddie did his usual falsetto vocal improv and added, “My voice is fucked!” According to a book on Queen, at one point he proclaimed to Hadley who was side stage (into his mic and thus audible to the audience) that he was “pissed.”

Tony Hadley joined Queen for Jailhouse Rock. Roger Taylor recalled Tony didn’t remember a single word of the song. He apparently ended up singing Tutti Frutti instead.

Here’s an extraction of an interview with Tony Hadley:

“I was touring Australia with Spandau Ballet and heard that Queen were playing in New Zealand. I flew over and got invited to the sound check. It was very Spinal Tap – a crazy entourage and different colored Smarties all separated out in dishes. Freddie Mercury asked if I wanted a drink. We ended up polishing off a bottle of Stolichnaya at the bar. Then he said he had a bottle of port in his room. “Darling,” he said as we finished the port, “you must come on stage tonight. Do you know Jailhouse Rock?” Neither of us could remember the words. At the concert I stood at the side of the stage watching Freddie, the consummate frontman. And Brian May, off on those guitar solos. They were my heroes from childhood. Then Freddie flounced across to me and hissed: “Hadley, you bastard, I’m pissed.” Then we did Jailhouse Rock. We made up the words. It was brilliant. Ecstatic. One of those nights you never forget.”

The last two pictures are of Freddie Mercury with Tony Hadley during their impromptu performance

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6 November 1978, Queen performed at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, USA 🇺🇸 ‘Jazz’ Tour

The band are experimenting with the setlist early in the tour, as ‘Let Me Entertain You’ is temporarily dropped in favour of ‘If You Can’t Beat Them’ as the second number.

‘Sheer Heart Attack’ still morphs into ‘Keep Yourself Alive,’ but the former would soon return to the encore, where it had been on the previous tour.

Freddie is in excellent voice tonight.

The photo was taken by Jeffrey Lee.

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