I’ve not been sleeping particularly well recently. Something to do with being in the middle of a global pandemic plus some other personal stuff going around and around in my head at night. I’d run out of my usual podcasts so went searching for something new and interesting.
Why did nobody tell me about The Queen Podcast? Hosted by Rohan Acharya and Queen archivist and documentarian Simon Lupton, the podcast is joined by Queen superfans (and comedians) John Robins and Sooz Kempner and tracks the Queen discography album by album, side by side, track by track.
See what a fool I’ve been…
I was something of a Queen fan when I was growing up. Here’s a photograph of my bedroom wall (I have pixelated my brother’s friends to preserve their anonymity). At least two walls were dedicated to Queen posters, calendars and pages cut out from magazines.
I got into Queen because of my dad. When The Works came out in 1984, my Dad loved the song “Radio Ga Ga”. He bought the album on cassette and I played it endlessly.
The following Christmas I bought him Greatest Hits so that I… sorry, obviously, I mean he could listen to more of the band. I played it endlessly.
I spent my pocket money buying up the back catalogue on cassette. Every trip to Galashiels, I would visit John Menzies and race to the music section to learn what other albums were available. Many of the older albums were available for £3.99 (about £12.50 today).
I tried to buy them in chronological order. I bought Queen (1973) and Queen II (1974)—probably my favourite Queen album and the only one I owned simultaneously on vinyl, cassette and CD. I bought Sheer Heart Attack (1974) from a friend at school who hated it. A Night at the Opera (1975) was a revelation—”Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously, but I loved, loved, loved “The Prophet’s Song”. I bought A Day at the Races (1976) while on a Scripture Union camp in Whitley Bay. For my 15th birthday I asked for A Kind of Magic (1986) and had to convince my Mum that the magic reference was to do with the film Highlander and nothing to do with witchcraft (true story). I went on the bus to Hawick twice to buy The Miracle (1989) because it had sold out by the time I got there… even though I had pre-ordered it and Our Price, the record store, had messed up the orders.
Before I left for university, the last song I played at home was “Leaving Home Ain’t Easy” from Jazz (1978). One of the first things I did at university was join the Official Queen Fan Club. I treasured my fan club newsletters and especially the exclusive booklet detailing every global Queen release.
On 20 April 1992, I was one of the lucky 72,000 who attended The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at (the old) Wembley Stadium in London.
I started to play guitar because of Brian May. I have a copy of his guitar, manufactured by Burns, in a case under my bed. I have a BHM Digitech pedal. I have two Vox amps. To say that Queen had an impact on my life is an understatement.
Was it all worth it?
Was it all worth it? Oh yes, absolutely. I was introduced to so much great music in so many genres. There is something there for every mood, every occasion. I love their entire back catalogue—Freddie Mercury era, anyway—yes, including Hot Space (1982).
Even now, although Queen II is my favourite album, I still feel like A Kind of Magic (1986) is my Queen album, in the same way that Tom Baker is my Dr Who. It’s the one that was released after I became a fan.
Listening to this podcast, I feel like I among friends. I feel like I am listening to people who understand my teenage years, who also poured over the albums and wrote down the lyrics and obsessed on everything Queen.