Harry Potter Store

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Wizarding World Flagship

Largest selection of Harry Potter goods and services in the world located at 935 Broadway, New York, NY 1001.

On June 3rd 2021 a new immersive retail emporium opened its doors. Located in the Flatiron District on 23rd Street and 5th Avenue the only store of its kind in the entire world! Harry Potter New York features three floors covering everything from apparel to sweets; two virtual reality experiences with separate admissions too. There is no entrance fee to the store itself. There are many items available that fall into the range of children’s pocket money. Keychains, Pins/Badges, Magnets, Lanyards, Re-usable bags, Pens/Pencils and much more offer a dizzying array of Potter adorned goods for all would be wizards and witches.

These pen and bookmark sets from The Noble Collection are $12 each.

Give yourself at least 1 hour to look around the entire store. I spent 90 minutes on my first visit! There are amazing details at every turn. You will discover some imaginative photo ops as well including measuring yourself against Game Keeper and Holder of Keys, the Giant Hagrid!

Look up above the displays of Potter knickknacks to discover actual props used in the films as well as relics for each Hogwarts House: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw each have banners, tri wizard trophies, and other items of interest plus video displays of famous members from Harry Potter to Draco Malfoy to Luna Lovegood!

Artifacts from the Harry Potter Films on display throughout the store!

3 Floors:
The Gallery—“Chaos At Hogwarts” Virtual Reality Experience.

The Street—Atrium, Butter Beer Bar, Confectionery, Hogwarts Houses, Soft Toys and Games, Wands.

The Cellar—“Wizards Take Flight” Virtual Reality Experience, Books, Dark Arts, House Of Minilima, Jewelry, Personalization, Robes & Knitware.

Advance timed tickets are available now for the VR experiences on the Harry Potter New York website for $34 each, and tickets to the virtual reality experience include access to the store.

As of this writing the store still has a virtual queue that requires you get to the shop early to scan a QR Code posted outside to obtain a timed entrance ticket on your phone. There is no fee.

Sorting The Hogwarts’ Houses

Allowing fans of all ages to immerse themselves into this magical space begins with a gorgeously detailed main floor which is circular. First you enter the entrance atrium, with Dumbledor’s pet phoenix Fawkes suspended from the ceiling on invisible wires welcomes would be wizards and muggles (non-magical creatures) alike.

A plethora of New York exclusive merchandise including Phoenix T— Shirts, hoodies, Owl Mugs, and Christmas themed exclusives are on display for purchase.

As you enter the circular Hogwarts Castle replica pathway you will find one section after another offering everything that will light up all visitors regardless of age. An even larger version of Fawkes carved from wood sits sentry on a rotating pedestal. As you stroll around you can enjoy this magical creature from every photo worthy angle.

There are separate cubby hole style departments. Honey Dukes candy store offers chocolate frogs including a large animated one displayed above as a welcome to this wonderful area. Bright and colorful with black and white checkered floors this is sweet tooth heaven. Every confection from the books and films are available here.

Each Hogwarts House has its own section with knitted scarfs, hats, gloves, banners, keyrings, water bottles adorned with each house crest.

Exploding bon- bons, and Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans can be purchased. A wall chart lists every flavor from Banana, Black Pepper, Candyfloss, Rotten Egg, Earthworm and Earwax to Cinnamon, Green Apple, and Vomit! I will have to pick some up come Easter time!

You can purchase New York exclusive label Butterbeer in glass bottles and mugs or steins. A bottle of the sweet cream and butterscotch fizzy drink is just $6. A separate Butter Beer bar offers a $10 souvenir cup which was sold out on my visit.

There is a lamp post that animates the Wizarding World logo to beckon fans to the character wand section. Every single wand is here. Many of these wands can be personalized downstairs on the cellar level with a favorite spell or your name. The Golden Snitch Wand is an exclusive item! The wands are $38 each.

Minalima

The London based art studio now has its first US shop inside the Harry Potter Flagship in the Cellar. This company designed the graphics for all of the Harry Potter Films. Adjacent to the Books section you will find $5 cards with lenticular art reproductions of their art for the Wizard’s newspaper The Daily Prophet. Journals, stationery, and all matter of printed art including prints of artifacts from the films. Wallpaper and gift wrap adorned with The Marauder’s Map and Sirius Black’s family tree are available too!

You can discover the history of this company displayed proudly on its covered walls. At the back of the shop is the fireplace from Four Privet Drive stuffed with Hogwarts letters!

BOOKS

The arched entrance has giant sized replicas of spell books and histories of magic. Look closely and you will see a certain Gilderoy Lockhart’s bestseller! The beloved series about life during 7 years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have NYC Harry Potter gold foil stickers on their covers for those completist collectors. Different languages, Country of Publication with variant covers are on the gorgeous shelves. Hardcovers, Paperbacks, and Box Set Editions are available. Look up to see every title in the series flying above!

That Which Must Be Named

The Dark Wizard is referred to as he who must not be named. Cleverly the section of Personalization is called the opposite. House Robes, Tri-Wizard Tournament Jerseys, Trunks, and Wands can be personalized.

Tri–Wizard Tournament Jerseys, Hogwarts Trunks, specified Wands, and Robes can get Personalized with your initials or last name.

Wizard World Associates

The staff of the Harry Potter store did not pay me to endorse their business. I write this section and all other sections of this article because I felt strongly they deserve this attention. Daniel assisted me in their Personalization area.

Every associate was wonderful answering anything I needed and were super courteous, happy to help and thrilled to be a part of this Potter adventure.

The exterior has a Wizarding World banner hanging from a Wand!
A magical clock with resting Dragon adorns the shop as well on the outside.

See you at The Harry Potter Store, New York!

New Records

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As we approach these last weeks of 2021 I wanted to let my readers know about some of the best albums released this past year; the albums to be released here at year’s end! Misfits have a healthy selection of records to choose from long running classic groups like Cheap Trick and Iron Maiden to more recent offerings from Mastadon and Dark Throne.

Music has been such a wonderful way to relieve the daily worries concerning the ongoing Corona virus pandemic. Despite the worldwide shortages contributing to changing release timelines for records things have been getting better.

Life here in New York City has been much more back to normal with the re-opening of Broadway shows and Movies. Concert venues also came back to life; proof of vaccinations required.

Best of 2021

Here is a list of some of the best rock/metal albums released in 2021….not definitive in any form…just my opinion alone. This year has 8 weeks to go. ABBA just released its first new studio album in 40 years! Here are my faves so far:

Alice Cooper’s Detroit Stories marks the veteran rocker’s 21st solo release. Proudly made in Detroit this collection features classic hard rock from the motor city where this genre of music was birthed. This recording hails the long awaited reunion the surviving members of The Alice Cooper Band! A solid heavy rock record from old black eyes.

Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu is another double album from the British heavy metal legends continuing their journey into progressive territory. Single “The Writing On The Wall” has a southern flavor never heard before on any previous Maiden record. The music video for this track and second single “Stratego” are both animated in the style of the 1981 cult film, Heavy Metal, and are both amazing visually, musically, and sound like nothing else in this expanding catalog of now 17 releases! The last 3 songs on this extremely satisfying platter are all written by bassist/founder Steve Harris–“The Parchment”, “The Death of the Celts”, and “Hell On Earth” all run 10 plus minutes. Maiden are the most epic band in all of Heavy Metal. In my opinion this record is probably the band’s best to date. Incredible for a band whose current line-up reunited back in 2000 and is proving to be its best.

Cheap Trick’s In Another World was ready for 2020 but delayed until now. It was worth the wait. The power pop legends’ 20th album is their best to date. Hard rocking like 1977 in 2021 is no cheap trick but a delightful treat to listen to track after amazing track. “Light Up The Fire” is a scorcher; “Another World” envisions how bright the future could be in that ballsy balladry Robin Zander still delivers like he is only 20, in this world he is in his 70’s! Their cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” closes out the set. Strongly recommended.

AC/DC’s PWR UP gave us all hope upon its release. Dedicated to the late Malcolm Young who co-wrote every track and whose rhythm playing gave the band’s sound its backbone is all over this great album. For decades they have been rock’s diehard battery. This remains true here. Featuring the smash single “A Shot In The Dark” it never lets up. You will feel energized until the final notes are played. Arguably the band’s best promo videos have been created for this album. “Demon Driver”, “Witch’s Spell”, and “Mists of Time” are for my money the best trifecta in their glorious history. Let there be rock!

Helloween’s eponymous release that features the reunited German power metaller’s best work of the past decade will get you of of any doldrums transporting you into heavy metal revelry. From the opener “Out For The Glory” to “Indestructible” you will be amazed.

Mastadon’s Hushed and Grim is just another solid outing from these metallers from Georgia. Their blend of brooding dark themes and strong melody flows well here. “Pain With An Anchor” sets the tone followed by “The Crux” which just pulses away giving the proceedings a vitality it never loses. Following a concept record about Moby Dick and their prog breakthrough “Crack The Skye” this is their epic Tool inspired masterpiece.

Greta Van Fleet’s The Battle At Garden’s Gate is a great prog rock album. “My Way Soon”, “Heat Above”, “Age Of Machine” and “Broken Bells” are epic tracks. Recorded in Nashville this sophmore effort suffers no jinx. Great follow-up to their debut.

Weezer’s Van Weezer brings the world River Cuomo’s long gestating metal record with a strong tribute to late great Edward Van Halen!

Accept’s Too Mean Too Die was released back in January and remains one of the year’s crowning metal achievements. Featuring the track and video “The Undertaker” brings back all the reasons we still love Accept.

The records on this list are among the best of 2021. In the New Year records are coming from Scorpions, Saxon, JohnSix & The Creatures, and Ghost. 2022 will hopefully be the return of concerts/tours.

Thank you my dear readers for visiting Evan’s Gate!

Rock’s New Old Heroes

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As the USA recovers from Covid-19 there are a couple of new releases from today’s finest rock bands to provide a much needed experience of joy.

Weezer and Twenty One Pilots are today’s new/old rock heroes. Sure Weezer has some great back catalog; Twenty One Pilots’ catalog is fewer titles but growing well.

Okay, Weezer has been around over 30 years, but remain vital as ever. Alright let’s start with the newest Weezer platter….

Van Weezer is just the right album for Summer 2021. Vocalist Rivers Cuomo had been wanting to contribute this type of modern rock n roll that salutes his love for eighties metal and hard rock.

Hero is a standout single that is on par with great Foo Fighters tracks.

Blue Dream uses the actual tab from Ozzy’s Crazy Train! And the song is totally original.

There are many flourishes of Eddie Van Halen’s playing style throughout the record hence the title Van Weezer.

The entirety of the set’s thirty minutes is pure cathartic release of why rock fans never stop wanting more no matter their age.

Twenty One Pilots have spent their Covid time recording the follow up to their concept epic Trench.

The new one is titled Scaled and Icy to reflect isolation and the scaled back way of life everyone has endured.

Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are a great duo. On the current set singles like Choker return them to their earlier form on records like Vessel.

Do not let the surface happy pop sound fool you. The lyrics are just as complex and probing as any Tyler has done previously.

Good Day opens the set with the declaration that it’s hard to believe that today is good. Singing out is the best way to bring joy. Mr. Joseph does just that. He sounds a lot like Mika which is a great thing.

Both albums will provide plenty of happiness this Summer!

Greta Van Fleet

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The Battle At Garden’s Gate is the second studio album from a band which had been on their first world tour when Covid-19 struck.

The Battle At Garden’s Gate on Lava Republic Records

Instead of complaining about the abrupt halt to their goals they spent time reflecting on what had happened to them and to their world.

Josh Kiszka; Jake Kiszka; Sam Kiszka; Danny Wagner wrote new songs they recorded in Nashville. The result is a much more complex set of tunes in which these young musicians did something quite amazing. They found their sound. Perhaps not a signature yet but still an audible gust that sets them apart from their peers.

Tracks like My Way Soon and Heat Above revel in the freedom of making music and being able to hit the road where you can make your own rules. It’s not for nothing the band’s earlier hit was called Highway Tune.

Age of Machine displays a new side to this group. A progressive component that lifts Josh’s vocals to new heights. I think his vocals have set them apart as genuine stars in the making.

His brothers Sam and Jake form a guitar sound that is all their own. You hear a chord progression that is Greta Van Fleet’s unique stamp. A mix of progressive rock with melody rooted in 1960’s psychedelia. Not a simple feat.

Producer Greg Kurstin (Foo Fighters) has brought out something deep in their arsenal of heavy melodic soft but hard edged rock that was there on the debut Anthem of the Peaceful Army but now is on the March with opuses like Broken Bells and Built By Nations.

This album is highly recommended. With the pandemic starting to lift let’s hope we can see these guys back on the road soon.

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David Bowie Icon

David Bowie ICON; Published by ACC ART Books; 181 Pages. http://www.iconicimages.net; http://www.accartbooks.com; Picture Editing:
Stephen Reid, Daniel Rachel
and Carrie Kania
Interviews and Text:
Daniel Rachel and Carrie Kania; Project Editor:
Carrie Kania; Publisher, ACC Art Books
James Smith
Editor
Susannah Hecht
Design
Craig Holden
Production
Stephen Mackinlay

Photographs by
FERNANDO ACEVES
BRIAN ARIS
PHILIPPE AULIAC
ALEC BYRNE
KEVIN CUMMINS
CHALKIE DAVIES
JUSTIN DE VILLENEUVE
VERNON DEWHURST
GAVIN EVANS
GERALD FEARNLEY
LYNN GOLDSMITH
GREG GORMAN
ANDREW KENT
MARKUS KLINKO
GEOFF MacCORMACK
JANET MACOSKA
TERRY O’NEILL
DENIS O’REGAN
NORMAN PARKINSON
MICK ROCK
JOHN SCARISBRICK
STEVE SCHAPIRO
BARRY SCHULTZ
RAY STEVENSON
MASAYOSHI SUKITA
Introduction by
GEORGE UNDERWOOD

This is the finest collection of photographs you will ever find depicting perhaps the only singular rock icon to rival the visual power of Elvis. From the very start of his career David Bowie wanted to become a star. He did not covet rock stardom. No. He aimed higher. We should all be grateful.

The editors at ACC make clear this is not a complete set. That would encompass thousands of pages.

What we have in our hands with this tome is a representation of fine rock photography from 25 of the most legendary artists in this field.

If there is one common thread running through these pages its the sessions for each studio record being seen without their final texts or titles.

David Bowie represented so many different avenues of creativity it’s impossible to pigeonhole him into any category or frame. Every picture in this book will leave you with an impression that is yours alone to decipher.

For this is the goal of a genuine artitst. To keep you guessing. To keep you wondering. To leave you utterly astonished.

The team that made this book possible attempted a seriously daunting feat. They got a group of the world’s finest photographers to contribute their best work to a singular project.

This work shows the many sides of David Bowie from his debut through his glam starpower to his thin white duke class and the many projects that drove his creativity and genius.

This resulting coffee table prize is a success. If ever there was a time we needed art of this caliber it’s now at the end of 2020.

Right Place, Right Time

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Abrams; 379Pages; Now available

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.

John Lennon 1980 Playlist

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John Lennon: 1980 Playlist by Tim English
Independently published; 245 Pages.

Tim English is a noted authority on musical plagiarism. He has been in the Chicago Tribune and on BBC Radio 2.

His research is expertly presented here as a playlist divided into the four seasons that make up a year.

In this case the year is 1980. The creative rebirth of John Lennon and the tragedy of his death in the same year.

If you think you already know everything about Mr. Lennon you will be gobsmacked when reading this book. You will discover so much about the former Beatle you did not understand.

Why John Lennon stepped out of the music business for five years was the birth of Sean. He took on the new role of house husband. Today we accept this role for men as normal. In the 1970’s this was considered strange.

Mr. English informs his readers of all the music being released during John’s absence.

The tempermant of an artist is fragile. For a while John Lennon was musically set adrift after the sixties. The long shadow of The Beatles had to be accepted by him. He knew his solo work would never compete with that legacy.

We discover why The Beatles became rock’s most influential group. We find John struggling to find his next chapter.

Among the artists that made John want to record again are Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen.

He stayed on top of every musical shift in the seventies. He loved Donna Summer. Blondie were his favorite group. Along with The B-52’s, The Pretenders, and Elvis Costello, new wave caugh his fancy as well.

Artists like John Lennon absorb the culture around them like a sponge. Their taste becomes eclectic. What they want to express musically is an exacting process.

Double Fantasy took several years to create.

This book provides the rest of the missing pieces. It’s a journey music lovers should take. You may find yourself learning how to be a better listener. Your musical taste will be much improved too.

Bon Jovi/ 2020

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Originally set for release on May 15, 2020 was a completed album with a breadth and depth of songwriting, titled for a challenging and pivotal election year.


Bon Jovi’s 2020 released through Island Records.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Along with all of America, Jon found himself unexpectedly experiencing a world-altering coronavirus pandemic, followed quickly by the staggering events of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing national movement for racial equality.

He knew there was even more to say about 2020. Writing from a home studio, two new songs were born: “American Reckoning” and “Do What You Can” encompass these events and made the album a complete body of work.  

Well known for his extensive philanthropic work, Jon spent the initial quarantine days and weeks with his wife Dorothea helping feed those in need at their JBJ Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. 

Later, the couple opened a Food Bank on the East End of Long Island to meet the food demands of the in-need population there. 

I had the privilege of meeting Jon Bon Jovi by chance at The Armory Art show in New York city.

I expressed my thanks to him for all of the good works. Also how much I was looking forward to his new album.

Not knowing the tour and album would be postponed made me think about all we as a people are facing together.

Without further ado, 2020 is a musical salve for a genuinely pivotal year. These 10 songs bristle with equal doses of joy and despair.

Addressing the pandemic, mass shootings and racial justice the music remains on a remarkably even keel throughout.

Bon Jovi has crafted a meaningful record that enables its listener to reflect on all that has happened to us while looking forward to the future.

Track List:

Limitless (Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon, John Shanks)

Do What You Can (Jon Bon Jovi)

American Reckoning (Jon Bon Jovi)

Beautiful Drug (Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon, John Shanks)

Story of Love (Jon Bon Jovi)

Let It Rain (Jon Bon Jovi)

Lower the Flag (Jon Bon Jovi)

Blood in the Water (Jon Bon Jovi)

Brothers in Arms (Jon Bon Jovi)

Unbroken (Jon Bon Jovi)

Tonight iHeart Radio will broadcast a special album launch for 2020. The band will play select songs from the new album plus Bon Jovi classics.

Flash Gordon’s Alive!

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Origins Of Swashbuckling In Outer Space

Before I delve into the legacy of Flash Gordon…

Buck Rogers is a fictional space opera character created by Philip Francis Nowlan in the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., subsequently appearing in multiple media.

Without Buck Rogers there would be no Flash Gordon. First appearing in 1928, the character of Anthony “Buck” Rogers was the first to feature space exploration! As it paralleled the latest advances in technology of the early twentieth century, the space hero would take to alien worlds to defend Earth from certain peril.

The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929. 

Later adaptations included radio in 1932, a film seriala television series (in which his first name was changed from “Anthony” to “William”), and other formats.

Buck Rogers was the inspiration for other comic strips:

 Tom Swift (1930-1937), Brick Bradford (Central Press Association, 1933-1987), Don Dixon and the Hidden Empire (Watkins Syndicate, 1935-1941),  Speed Spaulding (John F. Dille Co., 1940-1941),  and  John Carter of Mars (United Feature Syndicate, 1941-1943).

The adventures of Buck Rogers in comic strips, movies, radio and television became an important part of American popular culture. It was on January 22, 1930, that Buck Rogers first ventured into space aboard a rocket ship in his fifth newspaper comic story Tiger Men From Mars.

The Buck Rogers strip was popular enough to inspire other newspaper syndicates to launch their own science fiction strips.  The most famous of these imitators was Flash Gordon (King Features Syndicate, 1934-2003).

I did not discover this about these 2 serials until I created this entry for Evan’s Gate!

In the 1980’s NBC-TV premiered “Buck Rogers In The 25th Century” based upon the feature film of the same name that appeared in theaters. Starring Gil Gerard as Buck and Co-starring in the series were Erin Gray as crack Starfighter pilot Colonel Wilma Deering, and Tim O’Connor as Dr. Elias Huer, head of Earth Defense Directorate, and a former starpilot himself.

Buck Rogers will get its own entry in this blog at a future date. You just cannot celebrate a Flash Gordon Anniversary without providing this necessary background.

The Buck Rogers movie served as a pilot for a potential TV show. Released a year before Flash Gordon in 1979, the box office was good enough for NBC to hire creator Glen A. Larson (Battlestar GalacticaBuck Rogers in the 25th CenturyQuincy, M.E.The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew MysteriesB. J. and the BearThe Fall GuyMagnum, P.I. and Knight Rider.)

The television series lasted two seasons. The actors strike of 1980 disrupted production. When it returned the show was revamped with new characters and format. The 1980-81 Season was to be its last.

Fun fact: Larry “Buster” Crabbe” made a cameo appearance on the Buck Rogers TV series!

Serial Start For Flash Gordon

Serial adventures were a staple of the American cinema from the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Each week a chapter would appear in theaters. The ending was usually a cliffhanger. Our hero would be caught in some sort of death spiral that left viewers wondering how they would manage their escape.

These serialized adventures were provided as an added attraction at theaters. They did a lot with small budgets.

Based upon various comic strip characters of the day, those serials produced one character in particular that has stayed around for over 70 years—Flash Gordon. A comic strip created by Alex Raymond in the 1930’s influenced the adventures of Batman, Superman, Captain Kirk, and Luke Skywalker.

I saw the original movie serials on Channel Thirteen, a Public Television station here in New York during the 1970’s. The re-runs coincided with the release of Star Wars in 1977.

Later on I discovered that Star Wars creator George Lucas was a fan of Flash Gordon. He inquired about the rights with King Features but found out the expense was beyond his means. Movie fans got a space fantasy filled with characters inspired by Flash Gordon.

I had been enthralled by science fiction and fantasy since the re-runs of Star Trek. Then Flash Gordon appeared and then Star Wars. I could not see the direct lineage of these series until much later.

Summer of 1977 marked movie history being made. George Lucas’ Star Wars changed the popular culture. Becoming at the time the highest grossing movie of all time, its success would lead to the first Star Trek movie in 1979 and Alien in that same year! In fact Alien won the Visual Effects Oscar over Star Trek. And of course launched another franchise.

Then came a big budget European feature film of Flash Gordon announced in the pages of American fan magazine, Starlog. Italian Producer Dino DeLaurentis with Director Mike Hodges created a unique vision of the comic book hero.

The Italian film legend Federico Fellini turned down an offer to direct Flash Gordon.

Putting together an all-star European cast with two unknown Americans as Flash and Dale was an unusual contrast not unlike Star Wars. There were many European stars wearing masks in both pictures.

For example British TV/Film actor and Bodybuilder David Prowse wore the Darth Vader costume for Star Wars; British TV star Peter Wyngarde (Department S, Jason King) wore a mask as General Klytus in Flash Gordon. Mr. Wyngarde’s voice is heard while Mr. Prowse gets dubbed by James Earl Jones.

But I digress. Back to our main focus. The cast of Flash Gordon—

Max Von Sydow (“The Seventh Seal”, “The Exorcist”) was Emperor Ming The Merciless; Timothy Dalton (James bond) was Prince Barin; Brian Blessed (Black Adder) was Vultan; Ornella Muti was Aura; Mariangela Melato was Kala; Peter Wyngarde (Jason King) was Klytus; Richard O’ Brien (Rocky Horror) was Fico; Topol was Dr. Hans Zarkov; Melody Anderson was Dale Arden; Sam J. Jones (“10”) was Flash Gordon.

Coming Of Age

As a gay kid in the 1980’s there were a lot of stimulating images in film. What I mean is that there were lots of films featuring shirtless guys on their posters. “Beastmaster” is a good example.

“Flash Gordon” was a singular phenomena. There are no sequels. At the time it cost $70 million which would probably be over $200 million today.

At the time of release the picture had a PG rating. There are scenes with graphic violence and sexual connotations but nonetheless there was no PG–13 back then in 1980. The blood shown on screen was blue and green.

I loved this film for its tremendous effort to capture the spirit of the original serial. Now seen in rich color of every shade and hue. The skies of Mongo were a awash in red, blue and orange.

It was important for the film to keep to the universe Alex Raymond created in the 1930s. The only update was making Flash a football player for the NY Jets, Dr. Zarkov was a NASA scientist, and Dale is now a travel agent.

On the left is Charles Middleton as Ming in the 1930’s; On the right is Max Von Sydow as Ming in 1980. From B&W to Color Ming remains the same.

As a kid I was ignorant of this paradigm. It’s important to note the exoticism worked both ways in the film. Princess Aura seduces the blonde/ blue-eyed Flash Gordon as her object of exotic desire.

This was strong stuff for a pre-teen gay kid! Then you had Sam J. Jones shirtless in the execution and resurrection scenes, wearing nothing but a pair of PVC briefs!

On the left is Buster Crabbe; On the right Sam J. Jones. Both versions have Flash Gordon bare chested while facing punishment.

A ton of art was created for the film and some of it just for promotional purposes. Unknown to me at the time how many posters exist is incredible. Released globally there were images used in various countries to target specific audiences based on region.

Lobby Poster Art

All I knew then was the poster for American release was brilliant. Then I found a small copy of the art in a full page ad in Playbill magazine. I cut it out and put it on my wall. The name AMSEL was signed on Ming’s cloak.

The film’s Tagline, all in caps, PATHETIC EARTHLINGS…WHO CAN SAVE YOU NOW?

Who was underlined to stress that Flash is the hero.

The lightning bolt logo with planet Mongo at its center was an American market image. The font with its Red/Yellow/Orange coloring was brilliant. In Europe as well as in the opening titles the name is stylized in the mode Alex Raymond had used. You see it in the Italian promo posters we saw earlier in this entry.

Also note how Ming is so large like Darth Vader was for the Star Wars posters with Flash and Dale in a similar pose like Luke and Leia!

Instead of a fleet of X-Wing fighters you get a fleet of Hawkmen swooping down in an almost 3-D effect with Vultan’s cloud kingdom seen in the background on the right side of the frame.

All of his works are signed AMSEL with floating periods on either side of his name.

Richard Amsel was a prolific artist who attended the oldest school of Art in Philadelphia. After graduating he went on to create the poster art for films like “The Sting” and “Chinatown”. Following “Flash Gordon” he designed the art for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”!

He also designed album covers including Bette Midler’s Divine Ms. M.

For full bio of his life and works plus an animated slideshow of his iconic poster art click here: https://www.richardamselmovie.com/

He had an association with TV Guide for 13 years producing over 40 covers. A portrait he did of Lily Tomlin hangs in The Smithsonian. His final movie poster was for “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”.

The collage seen below is just a small sample of Amsel’s TV Guide covers. His first was an image of Lucille Ball upon her retirement from TV and show business.

I put up two of my favourites: All In The Family, Alice, and Richard Chamberlain in Shogun, a mini-series that aired for a week on NBC.

Notice the placement of the cast of Alice and All In The Family is similar to his placement of characters in his film poster work for Flash Gordon.

Richard Amsel died of AIDS in 1985 at the age of 37. I mourn him today. I had no idea he was one of the many awful casualties of that pandemic. His work is amazing.

Critical Reaction To Flash Gordon

The film found appreciation with some film critics, such as The New Yorker ‘s Pauline Kael. Kael described Flash Gordon as having “some of the knowing, pleasurable giddiness of the fast-moving Bonds…The director, Mike Hodges, gets right into comic-strip sensibility and pacing“.

She also stated the movie was “Like a fairy tale set in a discotheque in the clouds.” 

On their syndicated TV program Siskel and Ebert were giving films a Yes or No at that time before their now iconic thumbs up or down.

Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune did not care for it. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it a borderline Yes vote citing the fun comic book nature of the movie.

Visual Effects

In homage to the serial chapters of the 1930’s the film version was produced in strong primary colors and utilized Chroma Key effects.

Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a visual-effects and post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on colour hues (chroma range). The technique has been used in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture, and video game industries.

All of the space craft were done this way. Flash Gordon riding a Hawkman rocket cycle was also accomplished with this method as seen below. War Rocket Ajax, Vultan’s Cloud City and Flash with the Hawkmen approaching Mingo City are all Chroma Key images.

Favourite Scenes

The lavishly produced feature included giant set pieces adapted directly from the pages of Alex Raymond’s work partly as homage and because the formula worked!

I love the film as much as Rocky Horror loyalists. I can quote dialogue from any scene. This section brings us to my favourite parts of the film. A bit tricky because I really do enjoy all of it. Here goes…

In The Court Of Ming The Merciless at the point in which are trio from Earth first encounter all the ‘breeds’ of Mongo. This set is enormous. Ming’s throne looks like the inspiration for the Iron Throne on a certain HBO series.

Each ‘breed’ of Mongo gets introduced. Gathering in Court to present their tributes to the Emperor we see rivalries between Hawkmen and Treemen as the two groups argue over who stole their tribute!

Awaiting Ming’s first appearance in the film are assembled Hawkmen, Arborian Tree Men, and assorted races.

The image seen above is a fish-eye view of the court. Unknown to me as a kid but later appreciated as a film student that Flash Gordon utilized the Todd–AO camera system. At the time of filming in 1979 this was the state of the art widescreen format. Everything about the film is grand scale for a timeless adventure.

The Palace of Prince Vultan and his Hawkmen.

Initiation on Arboria where Prince Barin rules his treemen there is a rite of passage that all youth must experience. Within a warren of hollow tree stumps lives a beast in which the initiate must reach all the way in full arms length. If you choose the wrong path the beast will bite injecting the victim with deadly venom. The result is pain so awful the victim begs for death. Barin forces Flash to take this test in order to live.

Above in this gallery a view of Arboria against the colorful skies of Mongo, at the left bottom a birds eye view of Flash and Barin as they begin their duel, and on the right the beast that resides within the stump.

The Screenplay

Lorenzo Semple Jr.

The dialogue in Flash Gordon was purposefully done in a tone of high corn. Movie fans always call it camp.

Having written King Kong for Dino DeLaurentiis, Lorenzo Semple Jr. was then asked to write the Flash Gordon script.

The Batman TV series of 1966 was also written by him. The camp humour of that show was revived in Flash Gordon.

To this day every fan of this movie can quote dialogue. The language is comic book affectation in my opinion.

Ming The Merciless scolds those pathetic earthlings, Flash, Dale and Zarkov: “….If you had any inkling of who or what is out here you would have shuttered from it in utter terror!”

Ming The Merciless

Lines like, “We only have 14 hours to save the Earth” could only make sense in an over the top fantasy.

“What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching?”
“You’re a hero. Can’t you see that? Are you sure you don’t want a kingdom of your own?”
“Klytus, are your men on the right pills? Maybe you should execute that traitor?”

Original Soundtrack Music By QUEEN

Flash Gordon is the ninth studio album and first soundtrack album by the British rock band Queen, released on 8 December 1980 by EMI Records in the UK and in February 1981 by Elektra Records in the US. It was one of two film soundtracks that they produced along with Highlander. It is the soundtrack to the science fiction film Flash Gordon and features lyrics on only two tracks. 

Following the success Queen had with Flash Gordon two other notable rock groups contributed to movie soundtrack albums: Toto’s music was featured in “Dune” and AC/DC’s music was heard in “Maximum Overdrive”.

This was unusual at the time. Rock groups were not generally commissioned to score films.

I walked out of the cinema with the Queen music in my head. Following a trip to a furniture store I went to a local record shop to pick up the album. Dropping the needle onto this record was such a joyful moment for me.

Then to find they had included the dialogue from the film throughout the record was such a bonus. And the package for this record was so different from all of Queen’s previous efforts. It included an insert with a full colour image of Ming on one side and the lyrics for Flash and The Hero plus album credits on the other in red and yellow.

Seen above are the inner sleeve of the soundtrack featuring images of Queen on on side and the international cast on the other with a die cut in the center that lines up with the custom label featuring the logo.

For whatever reason the American version of this record did not have the die cut hole. The center was left intact so you lost the custom label peaking out effect.

Years later DJ Vanguard released a special re-mix of the single Flash.

On what turned out to be Queen’s final American Tour with Freddie & John in the Summer of 1982 Flash opened their shows followed by a performance of The Hero at the top of their setlist.

Flash Gordon Memorabilia

From the original 1930’s film serials to the 1980 feature to today the Flash Gordon franchise has produced a large array of collectibles.

In the 1930’s there were tin wind–up toys of spaceships from Flash Gordon and miniature figures in tins.

In the decades that followed numerous Sunday comic strips were published weekly. Comic Books, Toys, Figures, Posters, Trading Cards, Candy, Mugs, T-Shirts, Keychains, Magnets, and on and on and on.

Above are images of collectibles relating to the Flash Gordon franchise. On the Top Left are Flash and Ming figures with fold out Vultan’s Cloud Palace backdrop from Biff!Bang!Pow!

On the Top Right an early Pop-Up Book.

On the bottom Left a Lionman figure from Mattel based upon the Filmation animated series in 1979 on NBC.

Middle Right is a Viewmaster pack with 21 stereoscopic images also from the cartoon. And the bottom Right is a volume collecting Sunday comic strips of Flash Gordon now published by Titan books. There are 4 volumes in this series.

Flash Gordon books and magazines have been published over the past 70 years. In this gallery seen above notice the Mad Magazine clone Crazy with its parody of the movie!

The 1980 movie spawned several comic book adaptations, a novelization, poster books, and recently a graphic novel from Dynamite press called Zeitgeist.

Both DC & Marvel have published Flash Gordon comics at some point.

Archie Meets Flash Gordon in New Crossover One-Shot. Archie Comics has announced a new crossover one-shot with Flash Gordon, that was to hit comic shops back in June of this year.

The selection of pins seen here have been licensed by Vice in the United Kingdom.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction is a term used to describe a huge amount of creative writing available to the American public in the early nineteen-hundreds. Termed “pulp magazines” because of the low quality paper used between the covers, these publications proliferated in the nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties and beyond.

Flash Gordon was the subject of several pulp series sold in drugstores and book shops. The gallery seen below features some of the covers published. There were even Flash Gordon Flip-books! There the small sized books that you flipped pages fast to create the illusion of motion! Checker books’ collections of Alex Raymond strips in full color featured The Ice Worlds of Mongo.

Toys + More Collectibles above and below

A pinball machine showed up in game arcades which I got to play several times. It had Queen’s music! The Atari Game Cartridge was less exciting somehow, Mattel sold a toy rocket ship for kids.

Titan Books published a 4 volume set collecting Flash Gordon comics from Alex Raymond to the present day.

There was even a Flash Gordon Colorforms Set! Along with Silly Putty and Yo-Yos Colorforms were a 1970s staple kids toy.

The 1979 NBC Saturday morning series was licensed to comics, figures, and lunchbox/thermos sets.

A comic book adaptation of Flash Gordon was published by Golden. The price was $1.95

There was also a program sold at select theaters for the film. I found it years later at a Horror/SciFi Convention.

40th Anniversary of Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon Movie featuring the music of QUEEN

STUDIOCANAL is excited to announce the new 4k, Ultra High Definition restoration of Mike Hodge’s cult classic FLASH GORDON (1980), in honour of the film’s 40th anniversary.

 Flash Gordon was scanned from the original 35mm negative to produce 4K files. Over 500 hours of manual restoration repaired serious damage that included image instability, scratches, and intermittent flicker.

The sound was scanned from the original track negative and underwent restoration to improve issues ranging from audio drop-outs throughout the feature and during reel changes, digital clicks and optical distortion.

The film was colour graded for theatrical, home entertainment and 4K HDR release, using previous digital releases and 35mm prints as a reference. In line with the Director’s vision and the original 35mm cinema release, VFX work was applied to remove the strings in all scenes where visible. This restoration was approved by Director Mike Hodges in May 2020 and will include the first 4K HDR Dolby Vision master of Flash Gordon.

This Fall a new coffee table book will be published called Flash Gordon The Official Story by John Walsh.

Click here for Pre-Order information: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/667683/flash-gordon-the-official-story-of-the-film-by-john-walsh/

The End?

Originally there were to be 3 Flash Gordon movies to form a trilogy. Sam J. Jones had a falling out with the movie’s producers. The box office in North America was disappointing. At a cost of $70 million (a huge amount in 1979/80) and a paltry $20 million take in America no sequels were made.

While the irony is not lost on me that Flash Gordon up until this movie had multiple chapters including the short lived NBC cartoon, I think the movie is even more appealing because it is the only one of its kind.

A short-lived live action series appeared on the SyFy Channel. Dispensing with the former image of Ming as a caricature of Asian villainy he appeared as a bland modern CEO in an alternate dimension.

Another animated series also appeared on Cable television with less than encouraging results. Flash Gordon went into dormancy again.

The chroma key special effects. The model space ships. The glitzy costume design. Queen’s trademark sense of corn/camp are all part of the 1980 film’s lasting appeal.

This movie has become a true cult classic. Appealing to sci-fi/ fantasy geeks around the globe many of whom dress up as their favourite characters for ComicCon and Halloween.

I have seen the film at least 100 times. It’s my favourite cult film.

Seth Macfarlane, creator of the animated series Family Guy is a fan. His comedies, Ted & Ted2 featured Sam J. Jones and Flash Gordon. Comic book artist Alex Ross loves the movie and also proclaims Queen as a favourite band.

Family Guy episode with the Hawkmen. The Ted movies were packaged with Flash Gordon.

Alex Ross art above for the Blu-Ray of Flash Gordon; The Ming Wants You art came with the disc.

There is talk in recent years of a Flash Gordon reboot with CGI effects but time will tell if this becomes reality.

All I know is that this work combined two of my favourite things: Flash Gordon and QUEEN.

This Fall boss Fight Studio is releasing figures of Flash and Ming to celebrate the 40th Anniversary; Movie posters for the 40th Anniversary Edition.

There is a new documentary called Life After Flash now streaming on Amazon Prime. It tells the story of actor Sam J. Jones’ sudden stardom followed by years outside show business. It will be one of the many extras on the upcoming blu-ray sets.

This was the theatrical movie poster for the documentary, Life After Flash.

Thank You Dear Readers! And Thanks Flash!

The multi-hued skies of Mongo.

“Keep your feet on the ground, put your hand on your heart, lift your head to the skies, and the world’s for your taking. Yes, you’re a Hero!”

“My life is not for any Earthling to tinker or take…”

Band of Misfits

Featured
Queen formed in 1971. Their debut album was released in 1973. Several major labels turned them down. For 20 years Queen were: (L)—(R): Roger Taylor, drums/vocals, John Deacon, bass, Freddie Mercury, Lead vocals/piano, and Brian May, Guitar/vocals

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.

This was not the original Times ad but the graphics are the same. Queen played Madison Square Garden in early July for Hot Space. The set list was fantastic. The live album Queen On Fire Live At The Bowl from Milton Keynes, U.K. is my favourite Queen live album—not on vinyl in US yet.

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.

Hot Space cover designed by Freddie Mercury. Like a Warhol silkscreen.

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 Deacon on 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 by John 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.

Brian May, Paul Rodgers, and Roger Taylor. Queen 2.0

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.

Queen+Paul Rodgers released a studio album, The Cosmos Rocks. There was a live album too.

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.

Queen 3.0 has become the juggernaut that fans across the globe celebrate. The show has finally gone beyond the original line—up!

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.

This image of the Classic Queen Line—Up on the Rolling Stone 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.

The Queen studio album catalog is seen here. All 15 LP covers. The final album with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon was Made In Heaven released in 1995. It blows my mind how all of their records are now iconic.

Waxing Rhapsodic

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.

The sterling pound coins feature the band’s instruments and their logo. The piano has three keys shaded to mark the notes in Bohemian Rhapsody. Above you can see all 4 packet designs. A mini poster and full colour images and text about Queen are included. The coins are a singular design with the Queen on the back of each.

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!

To see this mobile phone created clip click here: https://youtu.be/7LcLqIHzNkY

This Fall two new books will be published: Neal Preston’s Queen photos from their Tours and The Treasures of Queen.

2021 marks the group’s 50th Anniversary.

Don’t stop them now!

Dear Readers

Thank you for reading my blog! To all my new readers, Welcome!

More Queen band features to come. Next week I will continue my posts featuring my photography.

Stay well! Wear a mask.