The good news is that Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ became the number one song in the UK on November 29, 1975, and it stayed there for nine weeks. Although Queen were already famous, the song made them superstars.
The song took three weeks to record, and was like nothing that came before it. Written by Freddie Mercury, it contained multiple parts that he worked on for years. After the intro, the song is a ballad. A guitar solo follows before it become an opera. The song finishes as a rock song with a killer riff thrown in for good measure.
When the band planned to release it as a single, they were shot down by the record company because they thought that, at nearly six minutes long, no radio station would ever play it. So, they gave a copy of the song on a reel to reel tape to a DJ friend of theirs. He only played sections of the song at first, but his listeners demanded to hear the song in it’s entirety. He finally played the track 14 times in two days, during his show even though it had not been released. When it finally did get released, well… the rest is history.
The bad news is that Freddie Mercury passed away on November 24, 1991.
Given the close proximity of the two events on the calendar, I thought this would be a good week to dedicate a playlist to Queen. The playlist contains songs by Queen, as well as songs by artists who influenced Queen (The Beatles, Elton John, Elvis and Tears For Fears), and artists who Queen influenced (David Bowie, Nirvana, Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins).
As a bonus, I have also included their set list from Live Aid, which was memorialized by the film Bohemian Rhapsody.
The Bank Nightclub
When I was a kid, I listened to some Disco in the 1970s. Partly because it was on the radio all the time. And, partly because my parents listened to it. Every adult I knew (except my grandparents) owned a copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack on vinyl. My parents and their friends always listened to it, when they had parties. But, in the summer of 1979, everyone got sick of Disco and revolted against it. As a new decade began, I just moved on to the next thing – New Wave and MTV.
Fast forward to 1993. I had just graduated from college and moved to a northern suburb of Philadelphia with my girlfriend. She was a real party girl, so we used to go to all of the cool nightclubs in center city Philadelphia. One of them was called The Bank, which funnily enough, was a renovated bank. It wasn’t the best nightclub in Philadelphia, but if you stayed long enough you would hear tunes like ‘Girls And Boys’, or ‘Fool’s Gold’, or even ‘Blue Monday’. There was usually just enough good music to make you stick around and order one more round.
The best part of The Bank was actually a little upstairs room tucked away in the corner. It had a tiny bar, several small tables and a modest dancefloor. There was a giant bookcase along one wall full of 1970s board games and puzzles. The walls were covered with 1970s movie posters and pictures. The room was called The Leisure Suit Lounge, and the DJ played nothing but Disco. When I first went into the room, I couldn’t believe how long it had been since I heard the tunes being played. I liked it straight away because it reminded me of my childhood and how much I really liked Disco. (There, I said it.) Even though it was the height of Grunge, I started buying and listening to Disco CDs again.
During the past 25 years, musicians, DJs and journalists have consistently returned to Disco, citing it as a major influence. Rather than being remembered as just a cheesy fad, lots of people now regard the more quality Disco as the music that moved the needle from Funk and Soul to Hip Hop and House.
This week’s playlist is a sample of what I remember being played in the Leisure Suit Lounge.
Have a great weekend.
This stuff is starting now…