This memoir is truly inspiring. A kid from Long Island develops (pun intended) a keen interest in photography at the age of 5. His mother has her own darkroom.
After leaving college over and over decides to pursue his real passion—creating images with his camera.
I think he made the right decision. You learn when reading this story how much of life is just being in the right place at the right time.
Over the past 60 years he has chronicled rock’s most significant artists. Beginning at the 1965 Newport folk festival when Bob Dylan plugged in with an electric guitar for the first time to the birth of disco, punk, and new wave, his best stories are collected here.
You will truly feel as if you are with him during all the late nights, problems with deadlines, and hangovers.
Bob Gruen became close friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono; Ike and Tina Turner.
He spent a lot of time showing the world the day to day lives of these extraordinary people. He de-glamorizes the biz. You see the tough times these folks lived through to get their art in the hands of listeners across the globe.
At the drop of a hat Bob Gruen flew to London, Germany, France, Japan or wherever needed to lend support.
In the moment he captured many moments that still resonate today.
Led Zep in front of the Enterprise Starship aircraft; John Lennon in his New York city tee-shirt; The Clash on the observation deck at 30 Rock; Ike and Tina Turner doing just about anything.
Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali. Dali created the first ever hologram of Alice.
This book is the perfect gift for the music fan in your life. He photographed Queen before they were famous. KISS in 1978 on the 14th St subway platform which had phone booths!
A magical journey peopled by lots of fascinating figures including:
Elton John, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Tina Turner, Debbie Harry, The Ramones, Alice Cooper, The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Who, Runaways, and on and on.
Bob Gruen reminds his reader of the authenticity of New York city’s great power to help re-invent those who seek a new life.
Filled with black and white photos and full color of many moments that shaped his long-term success you get a deeply affecting impression of what it truly takes to become a fine artist.
One of my favorite early moments was when he took photos of models. A young college student came to the studio. Years later he found out that would be model became movie actress Karen Allen who appeared in “Animal House” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
Today, Bob Gruen photography is a thriving business. The countless hours of painstaking work along with the warp speed social life required to achieve it are worthwhile.
I strongly recommend you get a copy of this account.
Published by Prestel Verlag, Munich · London · New York, 2020.
Hardcover $45.00 Oct 20, 2020
224 Pages | 9-1/4 x 11
Documenting the birth of a radical era of music, fashion, pop culture, media, and art, Steve Eichner was hired by Club King Peter Gatien to make images of his clubs.
Sex, drugs, and dance music created the perfect cocktail of hedonistic bliss set amid a backdrop of iconic parties that catered to revelers every whim.
On any given night, one could party alongside celebrities, club kids, drag queens, ravers, hip hop heads, models, banjees, body boys, bondage slaves, goths, and the bridge-and-tunnel set at legendary nightclubs like Tunnel, Palladium, Club USA, Roxy, and Limelight.
At a time when people from all walks of life came together at night to celebrate themselves. There was universal respect. No one could see what went on inside these nocturnal spaces…until now!
Steve Eichner was the official photographer of NYC nightlife. There are 200 brilliant images in this book.
Here is a sample of his work:
This collection of vivid good times comes at a point when we could use a reminder of the days when people gathered in mass.
Ordinary people became clubbers. They rubbed shoulders with celebs and danced the night away.
Here, a new group of upstarts of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and economic backgrounds came together on the dance floor in a celebration of PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect).
This book will be a great addition to any coffee table this upcoming holiday season.
This week features a day trip to Long Island. The itinerary was an indoor flea market, an outlet mall, and the town of Port Jefferson.
The outlets had great bargains including a windbreaker for Fall and a bundle of books at a discount.
Port Jefferson offered Red Shirt Comics and seafood at PJ’s Lobster House where we dined indoors for only the second time since March!
As of this writing indoor dining will return to Manhattan on September 30th.
2020 is the Centennial of the Vote for Women in America. New York dedicated its first statue of real women’s rights pioneers on Literary Walk.
Also marking the 200th Anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, this new monument is long overdue.
Central Park Wonders
I took a nature walk through the ramble recently. This is an area of the park with interconnected paths that twist through scenic woods. Bird watching here is fantastic.
A young Jazz Saxophonist played. A group of guys enjoyed a game of beach volleyball. And the police keep guard over a statue of Christopher Columbus.
The Conservancy takes great care of Central Park. Maintaining the lawns, trees, benches, and the rest every day.
This Summer has been hot and sunny most of the time. My husband and I are staying put in New York for now. These days I love my city. Have you looked at the weather across the country lately?
The Conservatory Garden
Located at E. 105th Street & 5th Avenue across from The Museum of the City of New York, this garden is a treasure with flowers, romantic paths and fountains placed well. A quiet zone perfect for escape from the chaos outside.
19 years after the attacks on U.S. soil of 3 American planes used as missiles destroying the Twin Towers, damaging The Pentagon, and crashing in Pennsylvania killing over 3,000 people, Corona Virus has killed over 200,000 Americans.
We will all pause to remember 9/11. But never forget that then & now we had a President not duly elected by the people.
Dear Readers, September arrives with plenty to share. New images of my neighborhood shows the hard work being done to keep life as normal as possible. Labor Day weekend begins….
This park sits atop the FDR Drive on the far Eastside of Manhattan. As seen above the Esplanade over looks the East River. Views of Roosevelt Island, Triborough Bridge re-named the RFK, and Hells gate freight bridge can be enjoyed here.
In the collages we see all kinds of activity. A girl flies a kite. A young Dad walks home with his friend and kid. A woman confined to a automated chair enjoys jazz music. A yoga class takes place. Two men workout on the Great Lawn. A Doorman washes down the walk. A man finishes up his run checking his phone.
I have many more images to share of Central Park. The gallery below features them.
A natural ecosystem that is great for walks. One of the nation’s top bird watching spots.
The many paths feature charming views of forest. A great way to escape for a while.
As our city continues to re-open I am hoping the awful numbers of March do not return. If Summer 2020 proved one thing to me it’s that we are all together. No matter what happens New Yorkers will continue to support each other.
My Dear Readers, thanks for stopping by Evan’s Gate! Until next week…
I have a keen awareness of what surrounds me. Walking around I take notice of details that feel as though they were left for people like myself to discover. The camera is an indespensible aid in recording these findings.
August is moving fast. Political conventions will be virtual for the first time. Perhaps substance will make a comeback to the proceedings.
Summer has become tedium. I feel differently about seasons now. As I grow older I enjoy Autumn more and more.
Still I have many more images of Summer 2020 to share….
During this crisis much has recently been discussed about the future of transportation in New York City. Revel Mopeds appeared one weekend.
My first reaction was surprise. How safe could this mode of transport be in a big city.
Then a few weeks later many young people were on them. Many without the helmets that come with the mopeds in their small trunks.
The portable scooters only do 30 M.P.H. and cannot be taken on highways, bridges or tunnels.
I could safely predict that sooner or later they would go away over safety problems. Indeed a couple of recent deaths led to Revel removing them from New York City altogether.
The CitiBike share program has been the preferred mode of new transport. Many of its riders do wear helmets. People use them a lot for recreational purpose in the park.
Rising from Bethesda Terrace is Bethesda Fountain, with the famous Angel of the Waters statue atop. The statue references the Gospel of John, which describes an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda and giving it healing powers. The fountain commemorates the Croton water system, which first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842.
Vistas and Views
The immaculate lawn of the Conservatory Garden above right corner; The Eastside of Manhattan seen across the reservoir on the upper left corner; A postcard image of the El Dorado towers in the upper middle section; Below on the left and right are The Delacorte Theater seen from above on the patio of the Belvedere Castle.
Sitting above the Delacorte Theater this landmark provides the daily official temperature in New York City. Offices stationed here for the Weather bureau following a restoration in 2019. The site is open again.
In The City
I spend more time outside the park since August began due to hot/humid conditions plus heavy thunderstorms. The local streets are still pretty quiet. No tourists. We have more difficulties to face since services will get cut and the MTA (Subways/Buses) is talking about a fare increase.
In the gallery below are a cross section of images I took over the past 4 months. Food vendors attempt to make money; Some restaurants closed for good before Covid; Movie theaters are shuttered; 5th Avenue has lost its former grandeur; The Plaza Hotel sits sentry.
City buses are getting crowded. I have not returned to public transit. My last subway ride was in early March.
Above at the far right corner is a local school. The faces of graduates adorn many schools now. Not so long ago this type of remembrance was for victims of school shootings. Covid changed the culture.
Empty chairs at empty tables will probably be the verdict for schools in the Fall. Many local restaurants have outdoor dining now. Indoors is not allowed in the city.
Mask wearing is inconsistent in the city that was once the epicenter for the crisis. I know I cannot control the actions of others but it seems crazy not to protect yourself in the face of this virus.
Even crazier are people who are still in denial over its existence. If we ignore safety protocols this crisis will deepen.
Every New Yorker surely remembers not too long ago when horse drawn carriages were the center of a debate. Our Mayor wanted to end this practice. Now with Covid the carriages are gone.
Museums are re-opening on August 24th, my husband’s Birthday!
Thank you Dear Readers! Stay healthy and see you next week!
Just a few of the things that keep me busy. Our city has seemingly become more normal than it has been in months. Traffic patterns are gradually building back up on 5th Avenue and Lexington Avenue.
Summer has become one long weekend for me. I break the season down as follows: June is Friday; July is Saurday; August is Sunday; September is Monday.
I know Americans think Labor Day is the unofficial end of the season. September is still quite warm. Cool weather really arrives the week of Halloween.
On a recent walk around I noticed the local teenagers have begun to return. Most of them disappeared for July. Many are not wearing masks or have taken to wear them around their necks. In better times the young often act badly; during this hard time they are opening themselves up to potential disaster.
My photos have captured people in their moments of distraction. Too many still babble away on their phones breaking the otherwise wonderful quiet of the park.
Activity is always abundant in the city that is coming back to life.
Fair weather opened August with gentle breezes. The Summer is beginning its annual winding down. Soon we will be reminded of the number of weeks, then days until Labor Day!
You feel a commonality with the people you see around in the park or on the street. No matter the activity, we are all trying to maintain a sense of hope, a spirit of neighborliness.
Dear Readers: As Summer begins to wane I hope you can stay healthy and enjoy as much as possible…’til next week…
New York City entered Phase 4 this week of recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. Outdoor dining and retail are back. I have gone out to dinner with my husband a few times already. We have seen some friends and family too!
Continuing to show my photographs of the Upper Eastside and Central Park I thought about my connection to these images.
This week I feature statues and buildings that have stimulated my lifelong sense of whimsy. A lover of fantasy since childhood I re-discovered places in the park I needed to explore.
I hope they bring back your sense of whimsy as well….
The base of the Mother Goose figure has characters like Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue carved around it. A homeless man sleeps on a bench nearby. As enchanting as this statue can be there are many experiencing hard times.
This statue shows the famous author sitting on a bench reading his classic, “The Ugly Duckling”, with his top hat placed to the side. You can see the details of this work in each image including the sculptor of the work, Georg J. Jober. The architect who designed the work was Otto F. Lancmann. The statue was dedicated in 1956. The Park Conservancy works hard to preserve all of its treasures.
The centerpiece of this section is the statue of Alice. I took many images of this statue. On any given day the natural light cast many unique looks at this charming monument.
Above you see the entire statue large enough for children to climb on. You see close–ups of her Wonderland cohort: The Mad Hatter, The Rabbit who is always late, and the Cheshire Cat. If you look closely at the rear view you can find the Jabberwocky!
At the base of the steps are engraved plates displaying verse from the classic book seen below…
One of a series of stately apartment buildings towering above Central Park West, The Eldorado is famous for its Art Deco-inspired twin towers that mirror its predecessor’s, The San Remo. Constructed a year after The San Remo, The Eldorado is a product of renowned architect Emery Roth, whose buildings are visible all along this stretch of Eighth Avenue. Its location, at 300 Central Park West is located near the reservoir.
Art Deco Twin Towers Rise Above Central Park West In Pre-War Grandeur. This is my favourite building.
The commercial corridor has declined over the past year. Several stores closed. A movie theater shut down. The Barnes & Noble bookstore is moving to a different location on Third Avenue, a much smaller space.
Restaurants have built outdoor dining areas on the street. The ones who had outdoor tables to start are expanded now. All servers wear mask.
The Metropolitan museum of art announced a return date of August 29, 2020.
Walking down any avenue you cannot avoid passing people. Wearing a mask is really the only thing you can do to protect yourself. Remaining indoors is only an option during horrid spells of excessive heat. As of this writing we are having our worst heat of the season.
New York City has proceeded with caution. This enabled us to flatten the curve. Now there are over 30 states with out of control numbers of virus cases. This did not have to happen. Wearing a mask is not a partisan issue. The largest problem now is re-opening the schools.
Will New York City survive? Can we invent a new economy? Do we really need to depend so much on tourism?
The retailers in our area include H&M, Best Buy, Staples, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. Independent shops are mainly services like shoe repair and dry cleaners. A major re–think must be done. New York City is not really as interesting a place as it was in the 20th Century. The internet is a powerful tool but this tech has ravaged our urbanity. If every corner is a fast food chain what is so special about living here? It seems in the past 20 years people have raised children without imagination. Just staring down at screens is Huxley’s Brave New World come to dystopian reality!
In the past 2 weeks I have witnessed a solitary officer and his car guarding a statue of Columbus in Central Park and 3 police vehicles in front of the Met museum with lights on. It was not clear to me what had happened accept perhaps a kid was playing in the fountain. We have collectively lost our marbles during this stressful time.
I have theorized our police are dispatched in groups like street gangs. This can never result in positive outcomes. We need to change how our city is protected.
People are in heavy denial. Understandably the shock of this time is powerful. But I have thought from the start that nothing will come back quickly. I do my part by wearing a mask. Such a simple thing.
I have seen horrifying results of people who think they cannot wear a mask and not get sick. The sacrifice is small yet people are unwilling in so many cases.
My photography continues in the coming weeks of Covid Summer 2020. These were just thoughts I have had while being out enjoying the weather.
Stay healthy dear readers. No matter what polls say, Vote this November!
Over the past 3 months I have been taking walks around my neighborhood. This includes Central Park. Afternoons have been mostly hot and humid. A lot of sunscreen has been applied to protect myself from ultraviolet radiation. I read a wonderful article today in the paper that shows what a car free future could do for city living.
A 30 year old died of Covid today. He went to a Corona party. The statement he gave upon arriving at the hospital was that he thought it was a hoax. Tragic and absurd.
I always wear a mask. I discovered charcoal filtered masks this week. Even if this pandemic ended tomorrow I would still wear a mask. Filtering out air pollution is important. All of the people who live along side me in New York who wore masks long before Covid are true visionaries. They were much more aware of potential crisis.
During the Summer of Covid I have found that these walks do me good for both mind and body. Seeing people doing activities is reassuring. The outside is safer than the indoors.
I am grateful my school years were not affected by something of this magnitude. It was challenging enough during those days without a pandemic. People will adapt to survive.
Continuing my galleries of images taken during my daily walks around the city I hope you can relax a bit from the new challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century.
Beauty Is Everywhere
Everyday is different. You can visit a space each day. The presence or absence of people, the changing conditions of environment always create a new experience.
Nature is never boring…
The trees in Central Park are treasure in plain sight. Admission is free. The newly planted landscaped tree line in front of the Metropolitan museum is a joy to walk through each day. The reservoir has Geese and Ducks.
The park is filled with paths that stretch out in front of you. It’s tempting to want to try them all in a single day. That would be impossible. Unless you want foot injury.
The neighborhood streets have become like a suburb. On weekdays there is so little noise I feel calm in ways I did not think possible in the city. Sorry suburbanites, city living wins out!
In The Neighborhood
If you are not familiar with New York than you do not know it is probably the closest to European any American city gets in terms of culture, easy walking, and largess of services.
Back To The Park!
Although I have walked streets around our neighborhood I prefer park walks. I have found out during these strange times the greenery is calming. I love finding images throughout my outings.
I posted my first ELW Gallery about a month ago! Time flies even in a pandemic. Here is a brief update from New York City….
July 10, 2020—New York Phase III—Outdoor Dining Began this past Monday. Indoor Dining was cancelled. All events in the city are off through September.
A few words before presenting my second gallery of photos from the city that now sleeps. Yes, there are more cars again, more people not concerned enough about Covid.
The young will pay a hefty price for their natural feelings of invincibility.
Our politicians are challenged on more than just the Covid front. Race and Justice are now exposed again.
People are justifiable in their needs during this crisis.
I have walked almost every day to keep sane myself.
New Yorkers need more physical space.
I hope my photos of a mostly empty Central Park help you to escape as I did for a little while…
Welcome to the second gallery of photography featuring images of a newly quiet New York City.
As I stroll around the park, walk down 5th Avenue, and any number of differing paths I note a strong feeling of loss. There is also feelings of hope and escape from a newly quieted city.
As a trained photographer you see the world around you with new eyes every day. During this period of extreme crisis this ability is heightened. The next set of images was taken from the July 4th Holiday and beyond.
Architecture of Central Park
I always take notice of details that seem to be missed by people busy with every activity except looking. The interior of the park has gorgeous designs both natural and man made.
Tropical Storm Fay Is Pounding The City Today: 3 Inches Of Rain Expected. We need it badly.
The year was 1979. A pre-adolescent boy who was collecting his first records discovered a mail-order music club. Offering 14 LP’s for a penny as their introductory hook was too good to pass up. When the records arrived I opened up the albums with great anticipation.
I was always eclectic in my tastes for music. There was Waylon Jennings, Aerosmith, Jackson 5, and Queen among the selections. The record with the biggest impact was Queen Live Killers, a gatefold 2 LP package with a collage of full color images from their European and North American Tour in support of their Jazz record.
There on full display was Freddie Mercury in tight black PVC pants and jacket (shiny like leather) with his jacket open to reveal a bare chest. Unknown to me at the time was the cabaret style he was doing. This was a new image for him in 1978/9.
All I know is the first time I saw an image of Freddie Mercury was a poster from their ‘Opera’ Tour. His penchant for stripping onstage thrilled me to no end. Onstage in candy stripe shorts and red suspenders with the band’s logo in the center of the poster. My eyes popped out of my head like a cartoon wolf.
Although years later I heard how much the band disliked the mix of the record I felt strongly it was a great representation of their live sound. I loved how they played a medley of hits too.
I was taken aback by how different the songs sounded in a live setting. Nothing like the studio engineered layers of over dubs or multi-tracked vocals.
Except for a brief spell following the release of their bio-picture, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I have never lost interest in them. That brief interlude was caused by too many kids finding them based on their parent’s tastes. Hey, that’s life!
For many years it was hard to find any Queen memorabilia in the states. I know this sounds crazy to the listeners of today. There are websites. Obviously there is the Queen Online Store which always has a great selection of Queen everything.
Back in the 1980s in America after their popularity fell away we had record stores and rock t shirt stores. Freddie Mercury’s most dramatic transformation into gay clone in 1980 was not appreciated by a largely straight audience.
Despite the huge success of The Game in ’80, the band ended their decade long relationship with Elektra records. The label released a Greatest Hits album in 1981. At the time it felt like rock fans were putting Queen out to pasture. Their Elektra years were ending.
‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by bassist John Deacon borrowed heavily from Chic. Becoming the best-selling single in Elektra’s history it topped The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’, which gave the band an idea that funk rock was gaining traction in America.
The fact that Queen were in Munich, Germany enjoying the nightlife a bit too much influenced the next platter a lot. Freddie Mercury without stating it officially was out to anyone with two eyes, especially if you were gay.
What happened next was a mix of bad timing and trends that would exile Queen from the USA until well after Mercury’s death in 1991. In fact when he died I remember a news anchor stating there was bad news for fans of Queens. Queens? That was how out of touch our media were with Mercury’s death.
Rolling Stone magazine was never particularly kind to Queen. Freddie’s Obit was a single page in an issue with Michael Jackson on the cover. He was not an American star. I felt that kept the band’s mystique intact.
‘Hot Space’ was the final record owed to Elektra. The band never conformed to what their label wanted especially when it came to album covers. The label’s demand for a band photo was ignored for years. Greatest Hits has a portrait of the band taken by Lord Snowden. It has become an iconic image. The label got their wish granted by contractual obligation.
Freddie Mercury had a brief friendship with Michael Jackson. Mr. Jackson was a huge Queen fan. He was the impetous for releasing ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ as a single. Queen had a #1 hit with it. The new direction was clear for at least Freddie Mercury and John Deacon.
Freddie and John developed a friendship over the years based upon a mutual love for Motown music. The divide in Queen was clear. Brian loved heavy guitar driven music. Roger was into Punk then New Wave. Swaying him into drum techniques outside of traditional rock was done.
In the early days when they were in college the members of Queen were united in their dreams of rock stardom. As they grew in stature with the the rock audience experimenting with different sounds became a reality. Roger Taylor’s ‘Fun It’ was funky and danceable. This song in particular made me think it was not such a big deal for the band to express more of a funk beat in 1982.
Freddie’s single, ‘Bicycle Race’ actually incorporated rap within the track. Both songs were on Jazz. That title was a huge deal. A band that mixed every musical element in its music now titled a record for a specific genre. However, being the academically minded nerds that they were the name also meant calling the collection by a moniker that had many facets to it. Like the name Queen itself.
Change is inevitable. Every band faces it. Fortunately for Queen they were a big band by the time they grew out of their excessive 1970s persona. They could not be pigeonholed. Freddie Mercury never believed in doing anything by half-measure. He took every idea to its maximum. This attitude created amazing songs and music videos. The latter would compound their loss of popularity in America.
As a gay kid Queen were my idols. I bought every album as they were released starting with the #1 Game record. The video for the song, ‘Play The Game’, revealed a cropped haircut and mustache for the first time. I loved it. American fans hated it.
When ‘Hot Space’ came there was no doubt in the band’s new look and direction. Funk, dance, and disco were now emphasized. Even Brian May’s guitar was absent on some tracks, most notably the single ‘Body Language’ by Freddie Mercury. Pushing sexual boundaries the explicit video got banned by MTV. The sales dropped from the prior ‘Game’ LP and the tour proved to be the last in America with Freddie and John.
Throughout the 1980s I knew it was uncool to love Queen. I could understand why they lost their mojo with America. Homophobia was rampant. Conservatism was in power. New Wave and Heavy Metal dominated. Pop music developed new icons Madonna, Prince, and Duran Duran. Queen were the past, a relic of the 1970s. Despite releasing more records that hit #1 throughout the world, the USA would never allow them back into the Top 10. From Hot Space, ‘Body Language’ was the highest charting single in the US at #11.
Everywhere else in the world Queen kept selling records and tours. This was painful to me because I knew I missed my only chance to see them in concert with Freddie and John.
Back tracking here. In the 1970s I was a kid. Every Sunday I read the Times’ Arts section. There were ads for Broadway shows, movies, and rock concerts. I noticed that Queen played the Garden practically every year.
Then one fateful day following the debut of ‘Hot Space’ the Arts section had a full page ad for QUEEN Live In Concert with Special Guest Billy Squier at Madison Square Garden! Their faces appeared across the page in the Warhol—inspired, Freddie designed graphics of the album.
I begged my parents to let me go see them. Nobody would take me. Back in the early 80’s tickets were like $12! Still in that time parents were not keen on their kids’ love of rock music. I have never gotten over the disappointment of missing this tour.
The opener was Billy Squier! I still love his music. Back in 1982 I was mental for both Squier and Queen. In the 1970s, Thin Lizzy, Styx, and Journey opened for Queen.
It proved to be their last here until Paul Rodgers joined them decades later in the naughts.
America ignored A Kind Of Magic and The Miracle. Both albums were enormous sellers around the globe even hitting # 1 in several countries like the UK, Japan, France, New Zealand, Australia, and Netherlands. The Magic Tour of 1986 became a record called Live Magic. The Tour and record followed Live Aid in 1985.
‘Magic’ was also partly the soundtrack for the fantasy film “Highlander”. Like “Flash Gordon” before it loved by Queen fans, loathed by others. The American sitcom “The Goldbergs” actually did an episode that featured Highlander and one of its stars, Clancy Brown who was now a regular on the series.
I never lost my love for music, especially Queen. They were misfits. Remaining so throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The critics never really appreciated them. Only after the death of Freddie Mercury from bronchial pneumonia brought on by HIV/AIDS in November 1991 had the press expressed any love for him. Freddie was a Jimi Hendrix fan. He understood how much an artist’s value increases upon death. He lived life his way. A true rocker.
Being a gay kid in the 70s was amazing and scary. There were so many great looking boys. And the hippie 60’s had a lot of left over guys who sported long-hair. And going shirtless was part of street style. And rock stars were no exception.
Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and every other frontman have appeared shirtless on stage. Then along came South African born Freddie Mercury! He took the image to a completely different level. He performed a striptease!
Loving Queen was difficult. I had my first rock music tee featuring the band from 1977. Wearing it to camp one day I got called a faggot. The group had become stigmatized by straight kids who hated Mercury’s effeminate posturing. The rock press had a field day with his sexual escapades. The worst magazine coverage for any artist I have ever seen was Creem, a rock rag from the 1970s and ’80s.
They did a story on Queen that was not a story. It was just the magazine hating Freddie and Queen. Anti—gay comments filled their coverage. Truly shocking to me.
Queen made their only appearance on American TV live on SNL’s Season Premiere with Host Chevy Chase. He hosted remotely from LA as a joke. Today this would be protocol. Danny DeVito introduced Queen. Performing 2 songs: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” a #1 hit in America and “Under Pressure”. Freddie’s voice was in the low register only. Years later I read he was recovering from a cold when the band appeared on the show. This was not a good time for them.
Back to their transformation from 1970s glam to 1980s pop. Following the commercial failure of Hot Space which still went Gold in America, the band signed to Capitol Records in North America. They even recorded for the first time in Los Angeles. ‘The Works’ album featured all the trademarks of their sound with Brian’s guitar blaring and Roger’s drums more upfront. Then another music video did them more cultural harm.
John Deacon’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ was made into a video that parodied the British soap opera Coronation Street. It featured the band in drag! Not Freddie’s idea. In the USA once again MTV banned them. Momentum killed.
Although the album was a return to form with hard rockers like Brian May’s ‘Hammer To Fall’ the top ten eluded them in America. Roger’s anthem ‘Radio GaGa’ peaked outside the top ten stalling at #16.
I still believe Queen were ignored. Punished for Freddie’s unapologetic gay image. Other British bands from the 1970s did not suffer this fate—Genesis released pop music—Pink Floyd went pop—and The Who also went pop. Rolling Stones released a cover of the song ‘Harlem Shuffle’ which was totally their worst.
Why was Queen singled out? Strong expressions of gay sexuality were taboo in the states. Despite being multi–faceted Queen had only the one face in America. Flamboyant is code for gay. Liberace had the straight audience believing what they wanted to believe. Freddie did not suffer fools.
I went to Giants Stadium to see Pink Floyd, Genesis , The Who, and Rolling Stones on separate tours during the ’80’s. Their music was not very good at the time. It was crazy to me that Queen did not tour here. My theory was that Freddie’s HIV status prevented them from playing here. Sad but true.
In my teenage years I knew many people who were either indifferent to my love of their music or could not get into it. And a lot of the time gay people fit their stereotype with a love for disposable pop or dance tracks. I can tell you the Hot Space CD was on a jukebox in a gay bar.
The Queen album most likely to be on any jukebox was Greatest Hits. Unfortunate since I always thought they had great songs that were never going to be hits. No doubt about the high number of singles/hits in their catalog. Later in this blog post I have listed my all–time favourite Queen songs.
Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, and Twisted Sisted were all influenced by Queen. The lead vocalists of those groups wore even more make-up than Freddie! Yet since they were hard rock/metal Americans accepted them. The make-up bands of the period were largely from America. Paradoxically this is also when the biggest make-up band ever, KISS, took their make-up off!
Unknown at the time that Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) were in the crowd that saw Queen open for Mott the Hoople at New York’s Uris theater on Broadway, it makes perfect sense.
Until the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley stadium few Americans understood just how much Queen had influenced the heavy bands of the 80’s. The line-up featured England’s Def Leppard, America’s Guns N Roses and Extreme alongside Elton John, George Michael, and David Bowie. Eclectic to the end Queen also invited Freddie’s main influence, Liza Minnelli to the proceedings. He got so much ridicule from the press for loving Liza as well as Hendrix.
I believe today that Queen got into my marrow, my DNA because their image and music were original. Upsetting the status quo was part of their appeal. Decades after his death the film of his life was a blockbuster. He kept the mystique. Proving that no other rock performer could rival him, Queen became paragons of rock music. Today their legacy has grown in leaps and bounds.
Taking them into my heart has kept me alive too. Queen have a few explicit anti—suicide songs. Mercury admitted in his final days that the image he worked so hard to build became somewhat of a monster to his personal life. Becoming less active, meeting a man named Jim Hutton who became his partner until the end was his ultimate goal.
For the first time since reading several biographies about Freddie I understand why ‘Somebody To Love’ was a personal favorite. Love is what we all need to survive. Take a listen to the many tortured love ballads he wrote and performed. His delivery is genuine. That’s also why it touched me so deeply.
I think it’s why I met my beloved husband Brian. I love him more than anything. He has made my life the best possible. Our mutual love of music with great singers has created a bond.
Here for the first time I have compiled my list of personal favourite Queen tracks. B-Sides and rarities are not included here. They are taken from the 15 studio albums released from 1973—1995.
My Favourite Queen songs of all-time
My Fairy King by Freddie Mercury on Queen
Great King Rat by Freddie Mercury on Queen
Liar by Freddie Mercury on Queen
Nevermore by Freddie Mercury on II
The Fairy—Feller’s Master Stroke by Freddie Mercury on II
Ogre Battle by Freddie Mercury on II
The March of the Black Queen by Freddie Mercury on II
Seven Seas Of Rhye by Freddie Mercury on II
Doing Alright by Brian May & Tim Staffell on Queen
Lily of the Valley by Freddie Mercury on II
Now I’m Here by Brian May on Sheer Heart Attack
Brighton Rock by Brian May on Sheer Heart Attack
Killer Queen by Freddie Mercury on Sheer Heart Attack
Bring Back That Leroy Brown by Freddie Mercury on Sheer Heart Attack
Stone Cold Crazy by Mercury, Deacon, Taylor, & May on Sheer Heart Attack
Flick of the Wrist by Freddie Mercury on Sheer Heart Attack
Misfire by John Deacon on Sheer Heart Attack
Bohemian Rhapsody by Freddie Mercury on A Night At The Opera
‘39 by Brian May on A Night At The Opera
The Prophet’s Song by Brian May on A Night At The Opera
You’re My Best Friend by John Deacon on A Night At The Opera
The Millionaire Waltz by Freddie Mercury on A Day At The Races
White Man by Freddie Mercury on A Day At The Races
You and I by John Deacon on A Day At The Races
We Will Rock You by Brian May on News Of The World
We Are The Champions by Freddie Mercury on News Of The World
Sheer Heart Attack by Roger Taylor on News Of The World
Fight From The Inside by Roger Taylor on News Of The World
Spread Your Wings by John Deaconon News Of The World
It’s Late by Brian May on News Of The World
My Melancholy Blues by Freddie Mercury on News Of The World
Jealousy by Freddie Mercury on Jazz
In Only Seven Days byJohn Deacon on Jazz
Dead On Time by Brian May on Jazz
Dreamer’s Ball by Brian May on Jazz
Don’t Stop Me Now by Freddie Mercury on Jazz
Dragon Attack by Brian May on The Game
Play The Game by Freddie Mercury on The Game
Rock It (Prime Jive) by Roger Taylor on The Game
Don’t Try Suicide by Freddie Mercury on The Game
Another One Bites The Dust by John Deacon on The Game
Flash by Brian May on Flash Gordon soundtrack
The Hero by Freddie Mercury on Flash Gordon soundtrack
Football Fight by Freddie Mercury (Instrumental) on Flash Gordon soundtrack
Battle Theme by Brian May (Instrumental) on Flash Gordon soundtrack
Staying Power by Freddie Mercury on Hot Space
Dancer by Brian May on Hot Space
Back Chat by John Deacon on Hot Space
Action This Day by Roger Taylor on Hot Space
Put Out The Fire by Brian May on Hot Space
Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie on Hot Space
Las Palabras De Amor (The Words Of Love) by Brian May on Hot Space
Machines (or Back To Humans) by Brian May & Roger Taylor on The Works
Radio GaGa by Roger Taylor on The Works
Keep Passing The Open Windows by Freddie Mercury on The Works
I Want To Break Free by John Deacon on The Works
Hammer To Fall by Brian May on The Works
Is This The World We Created…? by Brian May & Freddie Mercury on The Works
Man On The Prowl by Freddie Mercury on The Works
One Vision by Queen on A Kind Of Magic
A Kind Of Magic by Roger Taylor on A Kind Of Magic
One Year Of Love by John Deacon on A Kind Of Magic
Pain Is So Close To Pleasure by John Deacon & Freddie Mercury on A Kind Of Magic
Friends Wil Be Friends by Freddie Mercury & John Deacon on A Kind Of Magic
Don’t Lose Your Head by Roger Taylor on A Kind Of Magic
Princes Of The Universe by Freddie Mercury on A Kind Of Magic
Breakthru by Queen on The Miracle
The Invisible Man by Queen on The Miracle
Rain Must Fall by Queen on The Miracle
Scandal by Queen on The Miracle
Was It All Worth It by Queen on The Miracle
Innuendo by Queen on Innuendo
I’m Going Slightly Mad by Queen on Innuendo
I Can’t Live With You by Queen on Innuendo
Ride The Wild Wind by Queen on Innuendo
The Show Must Go On by Queen on Innuendo
In 1995 Queen released Made In Heaven which re-worked some of Freddie’s songs from his solo debut Mr. Bad Guy. The record featured Mercury’s final songs. “A Winter’s Tale” was his last composition. The lyrics described Montreaux, Switzerland in his final days. The list of my all-time Queen songs continues below with the band’s posthumous release.
Mother Love by Freddie Mercury & Brian May on Made In Heaven —This was the last track he recorded.
A Winter’s Tale by Freddie Mercury on Made In Heaven
Queen Retired—Legacy Grew
My least favorite Queen album, Made in Heaven, was followed by years of inactivity. Then in America TV commercials began licensing their hits. LA Gear used We Will Rock You; Diet Coke used I Want To Break Free; Mountain Dew used Bohemian Rhapsody even copying the now iconic promo clip. These are just a few examples.
From 2004—2009 Queen added Paul Rodgers of Bad Company to their line-up. He was one of Freddie’s favorite singers. In the 1960’s he fronted Free. In the 1980’s he fronted The Firm with Led Zep’s Jimmy Page.
The Queen+Paul Rodgers tours would return Queen to North America for the first time in 20 years! I never missed a show in New York. However, this line-up never played The Garden.
American Idol, a talent search reality series would enable a meeting that was pure fate. Adam Lambert, an American youth who was also out auditioned by singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Queen are his favorite group. Idol invited Brian May and Roger Taylor to perform with the show’s 3 finalists for its season finale. Adam came in second but in my opinion he really won.
Eventually Queen would announce touring with Adam Lambert fronting the group. It was made explicit that he would never replace Freddie Mercury. For the past decade now known as Queen+Adam Lambert touring the globe again.
And this line-up brought Queen back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since Hot Space! The setlist celebrated the band’s live at the Rainbow concert in support of Sheer Heart Attack. They opened with II’s ‘Procession’ and Sheer Heart Attack’s ‘Now I’m Here’.
Adam Lambert has released new solo records while touring with Queen. He sang ‘Believe’ at the Kennedy Center Honors bringing Cher to tears!
His presence on stage is truly a sight to behold. Bringing back the flamboyance of Mercury without mimicking his moves. Adam’s voice is his own unique stamp. He can sing any Queen tune. He has a new album out now called Velvet.
The shows proved so successful that Queen returned to celebrate their News of the World album next time around. Complete with Frank the Robot in full mascot mode. Opening their shows with ‘We Will Rock You’ like they did in 1977. Brian May performed his solo against a backdrop of stars fitting for an astrophysicist.
Their current tour is centered around the global success of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” which tells Freddie’s story. Albeit with a completely incorrect timeline of events to create a cohesive cinema narrative.
In Freddie’s brilliant words it has been no bed of roses for Queen. For 20 years, 1971—1991, they reigned with the same line—up of 4 creative songwriters with extremely different personalities. Fans felt proud of their achievements.
Then the untimely death of Mercury from AIDS in November 1991. Queen ended. I always thought they could continue if the right elements fell into place.
Elton John performed with them during a final concert as Queen. Mr. John sang ‘The Show Must Go On”. He encouraged Brian and Roger to find a way. He said of their catalog of hits: ‘it must be like having a Rolls-Royce in the garage that you cannot drive anymore.”
Having them back today means so much to me. I want Queen to go on forever…
In my lifetime I have not played another artists music as often as Queen. They have rescued me many times with their life affirming works.
I have many other favourite music groups: Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Judas Priest, Styx, and Elton John.
The Queen sound is unique and original. Their music is not rock nor disco nor black nor white. It’s Queen music.
The Queen catalog has sold over 300 million records worldwide. They are tied with The Allman Brothers Band at #52 on Rolling Stone’s list of Best Artists.
In England Queen Greatest Hits is the top selling record in British music history. Greatest Hits II is #10.
The Queen studio album catalog seen below does not include The Cosmos Rocks. That album featured Paul Rodgers.
Today the world is quite different then the early 1970’s. The band’s legacy has become it’s own cottage industry. The Queen Online website is updated every day. The Online Store has a line of goods that any fan would enjoy.
The Royal Mint in the U.K. has issued Queen coins in sterling; The Royal Mail will issue Queen stamps on July 9th, 2020 featuring 8 album covers including The Game and News Of The World and a set of 4 concert images from their world tours plus a proper band portrait as seen below.
Queen become the third British band to receive this honour following The Beatles and Pink Floyd.
Queen have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They were inducted into the songwriters hall of fame and most recently were given a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” became the highest grossing bio picture of all–time. Rami Malek won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury.
The film won a Golden Globe for Best Picture.
On YouTube Queen+Adam Lambert released a new version of their classic “We Are The Champions” called “You Are The Champions” to help raise funds for Covid—19 relief workers via The World Health Organization and U.N.
Drummer and Vocalist Roger Taylor’s daughter appears in the video. She is a nurse!