Brian May discusses ‘losing Freddie’ with Johnnie Walker
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Brian is currently promoting the rerelease of his remastered 1998 sophomore solo album, Another World. Filming an exclusive new video from Tenerife he dived back into his and Queen’s early days and revealed how one of the UK’s biggest bands of the early Seventies had a huge influence on them when they toured the US together, just when Queen was starting out. The movie Bohemian Rhapsody previously gave a glimpse of those heady days, but Brian also opens up about the enormous and difficult personal sacrifices that he made – and whether he has any regrets. Scroll down to watch Brian’s video
Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis features on Another World as a personal tribute from Brian to the band and lead singer Ian Hunter. The Queen star revealed how their early tour together changed the way the band thought about performing and how he, personally, thought about his life.
He said: “Mott the Hoople were a great influence on us. They were our mentors in a way. We’re just starting off as a rock group. We have so many big ideas. We have songs, we have presentation ideas, etc. But we’ve never been on tour, so we go on tour, very luckily supporting Mott the Hoople, who are a big band in those days. In fact, they should have been bigger if they hadn’t broken up. I think they would have been like the Stones or whatever.”
As well as the extraordinary music, Queen have always been known for their incredible stage-craft, the way they shape as show and lead the audience on a journey. Some of that was learned from their fellow British band.
Brian said: “I mean, we had big ideas. Even then, we were precocious boys. But I remember watching Mott the Hoople burst onto the stage and the whole audience would erupt because it was just engineered that way.
“I say engineered because you do you work on an audience you want to make contact. You don’t just stroll on and plink away and hope something will happen. At least we don’t. You know, you have that opportunity to excite, to impassion, to inspire an audience. And they did that. They would go on and go….and the whole place would errupt.
“And Ian Hunter as a pianist, not many people can do it as keyboard players, but he would do it with… Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. And it was All The Way From Memphis, and when the guitars came in like this, I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do’. Again, a big inspiration to me.”
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Despite all the inspiration, Brian also recalls struggling on that first US tour, and questioning whether this was what he wanted to do with his life. Moot the Hoople’s Ian Hunter laif it all out bluntly for him.
Brian said: “Miserable old sod he is, but I love him dearly. He once gave me great advice. We’re in the middle of the tour. I think we’re in Memphis, Tennessee. My jaw is dropping my eyes are wide open. I’ve never seen anything like this. It was mayhem. It was like… I don’t know how to describe it, it was like indulgence personified. It’s like, you imagine a rock tour to be, the gig, the hotel, everything, and I sat down with Ian late at night and he said, ‘Brian, are you enjoying this’ and I went ‘Yeah, I said it’s…I’ve never experienced anything like this’.
“And he says, ‘Are you missing your home life at all?’ I said, ‘Well, actually, you’re right.’ So I said, ‘I miss the things around me. I miss my things, I miss my people and everything’. He said, ‘Brian. If you miss your things and your people, you’re in the wrong business’.”
Brian added: “So that’s the advice which I didn’t take. Luckily. I persisted, but it is a hard business, you know, when you take on being a rock musician for real. You have to say goodbye to your home life for quite a long time. So all your stuff that you thought was essential to you, all the things that you that make you feel secure. All the people who give you support. You have to say goodbye.
“And in those days, even more so because you couldn’t communicate. When you’re on the road, you couldn’t phone home. We couldn’t. I couldn’t afford to phone home when we were first out there.
“So do I regret it? No, of course, because it gave me my life. It’s been an incredible life, and it’s opened the doors to so many other things.”
Hunter, himself, quit Mott the Hoople in 1974 and the band’s fortunes soon declined. He continued to release solo material and was reunited with Brian as recently as 2019 when they both played on stage at Deff Leppard’s induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
BRIAN MAY’S ANOTHER WORLD IS OUT NOW
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