Queen could be releasing a lost tape of one of their first gigs

8 February 2021, 12:14

Queen in 1973: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deacon
Queen in 1973: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deacon. Picture: GettyMichael Putland/Getty Images

Brian May isn't sure whether the wider world should hear how "rough" they sound, however.

Queen have found a recording of one of their very first gigs - and are considering an official release of the tape.

Brian May recently rediscovered the recording, which chronicles one of the group's shows at Imperial College London, in the early 1970s - and he and Queen drummer Roger Taylor are still pondering whether to let the world hear the tape.

He told Classic Rock: “We’re debating what to do with it. A few years ago we’d have felt very protective and thought, ‘Nobody should hear this because we’re very rough.'

“But now, in the position that we are in our lives, we feel forgiving. We’re not ashamed of where we were at that time. It was us against the world.”

Although the guitarist doesn't specify when the tape was recorded, it's known that the four musicians - May, Taylor, Freddie Mercury and Mike Grose, who played bass before the arrival of John Deacon the following year - performed their first ever show billed as Queen at Imperial College on 18 July 1970.

More: When exactly did Queen play their first gig?

Roger Taylor and Brian May unveil a plaque marking the first ever Queen gig at Imperial College, March 2013
Roger Taylor and Brian May unveil a plaque marking the first ever Queen gig at Imperial College, March 2013. Picture: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

One of the reasons May isn't sure about issuing the live recording officially is that he stills feel protective over his late colleague Freddie Mercury.

He went on: “Freddie had all the will and charisma and passion but he didn’t have the opportunity to harness that voice yet.

“Which makes me hesitate a little bit, because I’m not sure Freddie would be that happy hearing himself at this stage.

“But strangely, if he were alive and sitting here at this moment, he’d probably be the same as me, ‘Oh darling, we were kids!’"

Barry Mitchell, who played bass with Queen in 1970 and 1971 just before the arrival of John Deacon, considered Mercury to be the "weak link" in the band. "Freddie at the time didn't have great command of his voice," he recalled in 2018. "His singing was a bit off and a bit squeaky sometimes.

"The music wasn't my kind of music. I didn't see it progressing. But you couldn't have foreseen what happened. He developed his voice, he got his technique right, and we all know what his voice ended up as."

While 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Queen, May has revealed that the half-century wasn’t something that he and Roger Taylor wanted to celebrate.

He said: “Everybody else can celebrate it if they want. We’d rather just celebrate being here and being alive.”

Talor added: “We didn’t want to draw attention to how f****** ancient we are.”

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