Interviews: Freddie Mercury: Circus Magazine '77
Circus magazine, 17th March 1977 by Don Rush
Back in the old days, we were often compared to Led Zeppelin. If we did something with harmony, it was the Beach Boys. Something heavy was Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant was always my favorite singer-and he's said nice things about me, you know. He actually said he liked "Killer Queen."
We were always a sitting target in the press because we became popular so quickly. But, you know, we spent two years putting our act together It destroys the soul to hear that you're all hype, that you have no talent, and that your whole career has been contrived. I was never too keen on the British music press. They've called us a supermarket hype, and they used to suggest that we didn't write our own songs. When the whole point of Queen was to be original.
I'm the first to accept fair criticism. But the dishonest reviews-where people haven't done their homework - I just tear them up. I do get annoyed when up-and-coming journalists put themselves above the artist.
I don't care what the journalists say, we achieved our own identity after Queen II. As for the Beach Boys or Led Zeppelin comparisons: it's the combination of all those influences which means Queen. We were disliked by the press in the early days because they couldn't put their finger on us, and that was the case with Zeppelin as well.
A lot of people slammed "Bohemian Rhapsody," but who can you compare that to? Name one group that's done an operatic single. You know, we were adamant that "Bohemian Rhapsody" would be a hit in its entirety. We have been forced to make compromises, but cutting up a song will never be one of them.
We've always put our necks on the line. We're fussy and finnicky and have very high standards. If a song can't be done properly, we'd rather it isn't done at all. We're the fussiest band in the world, and we put so much loving into every album. We're a very expensive group; we break a lot of rules. It's unheard of to combine opera with a rock theme, my dear.
And, we have no such thing as a budget anymore. Our manager freaks when we show him the bill. We're lavish to the bone, but all our money goes back into the product. We've gone overboard on every Queen album. But that's Queen. If people said, "The new album sounds just like Night At The Opera," I'd give up. Wouldn't you?
After Sheer Heart Attack, we realized we'd established ourselves. We felt that there were no barriers, no restrictions. A Night At The Opera featured every sound from a tuba to a comb. Nothing is out of bounds. Every molecule of Day At The Races - every iota-is us. No session men. We don't try to reproduce that onstage.
We've been slagged in the press for our flamboyant stage show. We think a show should be a spectacle. A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It's a theatrical event.
In the early days, we just wore black onstage. Very bold, my dear. Then we introduced white, for variety, and it simply grew and grew. "Stone Cold Crazy" was the first song Queen ever performed onstage.
I have fun with my clothes onstage; it's not a concert you're seeing, it's a fashion show. I dress to kill, but taste- fully. My nail polish? I used to use Biba, now I use Miners. One coat goes on really smooth.
If we're weird onstage, I don't know what you'd call the Tubes. We're a bit flashy, but the music's not one big noise. I think we're sophisticated. I like the cabaretish sort of thing. In fact, one of my early inspirations came from Cabaret. I absolutely adore Liza Minnelli, she's a total wow. The way she delivers her songs-the sheer energy. The way the lights enhance every movement of the show. I think you can see similarities in the excitement and energy of a Queen show. It's not glamrock, you see; we're in the showbusiness tradition.
The lavish presentation appeals to me, and I've got to convince the others. You don't know how I had to fight for "Big Spender" on the last tour. We row about everything, even about the air we breathe. We're the bitchiest band on earth, darling. We're at each other's throats. One night Roger was in a foul mood and he threw his entire bloody drumset across the stage. The thing only just missed me - I might have been killed. Yes, we're all very highly strung. Once, Roger squirted Brian in the face with hairspray in a tiny, steaming dressing room. They nearly came to blows. We've all got massive egos, my dear. The others don't like my interviews. And frankly, I don't care much for theirs. I'm very emotional; I think I may go mad in several years' time.
People think I'm an ogre, you know. onstage, I am a devil. But I'm hardly a social reject. My parents were very strict, actually. I was born in Zanzibar, September 5, 1946. My father was a civil servant. I learned to fend for myself in boarding school. All the bullying-1 had the odd schoolmaster chasing me. I was considered the arch poof.
I've had my share of schoolboy pranks. That's as much as I'll divulge. I got my diploma from Baling College of Art, in graphics and illustration. You know, I designed the Queen crest. I simply combined all the creatures that represent our star signs-and I don't even believe in astrology.
I think my melodies are superior to my lyrics. "Death On Two Legs" was the most vicious lyric I ever wrote. It's so vindictive that Brian felt bad singing it. I don't like to explain what I was thinking when I wrote a song. I think that's awful, just awful. When I'm dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance.
Years ago, I thought up the name Queen. It's just a name. But it's regal, obviously, and sounds splendid. I like to be surrounded by splendid things. I like to browse around art galleries, but I'm a hard-working lad and I never have the time. I bought a house in London which I'd only seen in photographs. I know that's absurd, but I had no time to go house-hunting. And I needed a place to move my furniture and clothes. I want to lead the Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter
I'm not into business at all. I'm hopeless with money; I simply spend what I've got. I guess I've always lived the glamorous life of a star It's nothing new-1 used to spend down to the last dime. Now I've got money. I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me.