Freddie Mercury Retrograde-in Bohemian Rhapsody
With the 2018 release of British-American joint venture produced by 20th Century Fox, New Regency, GK Films, and Queen Films’, Bohemian Rhapsody, Pindify’s Larry Dvoskin recounts his meeting with the legendary Freddie Mercury.
My Bucket List with Freddie Mercury
“Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?”
by, Larry Dvoskin
A lot of people are talking about the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie portraying the life of Freddie Mercury and Queen—the legendary band he fronted. I met Freddie Mercury and got to jam with him. Bucket list item- check! It’s a strange feeling to evolve from being a fan of Queen, to meeting one of your idols, open for said band and having them view you as a colleague—and even climbing onstage to play some music with them.
When I first started out in the music industry, I was like every young wannabe musician, dreaming of fame and fortune in the music world. I played with several bands that produced albums and toured—before becoming a professional songwriter and producer. These days I work with an exciting an innovative music and media digital platform called Pindify. I am simply a Paul Revere telling all my friends about Pindify and their goal to help 300,000 musicians earn $3,000 per month—monetizing their creativity and passions by publishing their exclusive content to Pindify—and earning a percentage of the subscription fees from their fans and followers. It used to be easier for musicians to make a living than it is now—which is why I am passionate about the potential for Pindify to revolutionize music and level the playing field for new talent just starting out. Streaming, declining album sales, the fractured attention span of young people all contribute to how hard it is to make a living doing what you love. It used to be different. Here’s my story.
Long ago in a galaxy far away I played keyboards in a group named ZENO that was signed to EMI records. We opened for Queen in Newcastle, England. It was a stadium full of about 80,000 people. The show was somewhat of a disaster for us as our road crew stopped at every pub along the motorway from London to Newcastle (about a 10 hour drive), so our crew failed to appear with our equipment.
Thankfully, the Queen roadies were so professional and accommodating they allowed us to use much of their “headliner” backline equipment- drums, amps, etc.
My first encounter with Brian May of Queen was when he came up to me hours later—and apologized for not seeing ZENO’s set. Brian is a towering figure compared to my five foot 10 inch height- so looking up at him backstage shortly before Queen were ready to hit the stage, after a full day of bands in between, and I thought to myself “what is he nuts?” We went on at 12 noon, he goes on at 8pm. “Why on Earth would the headliner care about the least important band?” But that was my first impression of the integrity and class that the QUEEN family inhabited. This top down management style was impressive and Brian wanted me to know that every band opening for them, every musician sharing the stage was family, was important.
Queen of course- were brilliant. Freddie was a one of a kind. I watched him leap off speakers, doing a somersault whilst hitting a high note in mid air without losing his pitch. This is highly unusual for someone to keep a note on pitch without their feet being on the ground. But that was Freddie.
Another surprise was my electric piano. I had brought it with me to practice in my hotel room and it was one of the only pieces of equipment we owned ourselves and played during our set opening for Queen. Somehow, with all the confusion, we forgot it in Newcastle. The following week we got a call back in London that the Queen road crew found my piano, brought it back to London with Queens equipment, and they let us know they put it into our storage locker at Easyhire, the same music storage facility they used. We didn’t even know it was missing! How did they know, locate, open and safely return my piano? Amazing!!!!
Then there was the end of tour QUEEN party. For many normal citizens this might have been the party of their lives, but for Queen I imagine it was just another night out. The event was set on the rooftop gardens of the Mark and Spencer department store in Knightsbridge London. It was a who’s who of London’s music and hipster scene. Everyone who was anyone was there, or was desperately clawing their way to get onto a list to be there.
The elevator to the roof was one of those old fashioned, hand operated types with an accordion-like metal gate, and hand operated crank controls. A beautiful girl operated the elevator in one of those vintage elevator operator outfits you’d see in an old black and white Hollywood movie. As we went up and got a closer look we suddenly realized the girl was naked. The outfit was body paint, perfectly done from head to toe. This was the first of many surprises over the course of a wild and crazy evening. As we entered the party we noticed several large glass terrarium like structures which appeared to have giant writhing snakes in them, that upon closer inspection were naked men and women wrapped in exotic and erotic performance art poses.
Those were the days when record companies and bands went all out spending money. Not just on themselves but on their entourage of family and friends. The party had every type of food imaginable at tables and carving stations along each wall. Lobsters, premium steaks, every type of food and beverage were served in decadent abundance. It was a who’s who of UK rock royalty from members of not only Queen, but The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cliff Richard, and many others.
My ‘bucket list’ moment with Freddie Mercury came when I was invited up to play keyboards with a rotating all star jam band. Freddie sang, Roger Taylor of Queen on drums, and I believe- the events are a little fuzzy, John Entwistle of The Who on Bass, or was it Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones on bass…? You get the idea. We did the corniest of cover tunes- “Knock on Wood” with Samantha Fox, a former topless page 3 model in the UK tabloid “The Sun” singing a duet with Freddie. The whole thing was uproarious if that is even a word?
These days, as I work with Pindify.com inviting my fellow musician friends, managers, groups, writers, artists, and photographers to join as members I think of how it is indeed still possible to live your dreams. To imagine something so impossible and implausible and to make it a reality. I am the living example.
From driving around Dumont, New Jersey smoking pot and listening to Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack” album to having the honor even for one special night to play music and share the stage with Freddie and Brian, as the lyrics to “Over The Rainbow” simply state “the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true.”