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Celebrating some musical giants…

Royal Mail Queen Minisheet FDC

This is another blockbuster of an issue. I never saw myself as a Queen fan, but this issue inspired me to listen to their Greatest Hits and it turns out I liked more of their music than I thought! They’re such a talented band, with an interesting back story too.

This is a big issue, with stamps, minisheet, retail booklet, prestige stamp booklet and collector’s sheet!

An interesting story…

‘Back in May 1982, Queen were on a ’69 date tour to promote their album “Hot Space” which, despite containing “Under Pressure” their collaboration with David Bowie, was not the success they had hoped.

As Mike Alexander, I was the host of the weekly Rock Show on Radio Aire and was invited to go to the Dragonara Hotel in Leeds to interview the band. Freddy didn’t do interviews which I knew. He had a four octave singing range but also four additional teeth which gave him an overbite that he had been bullied at school about. So he rarely talked in public. I also was aware John Deacon, their bassist, was also a shrinking violet. I would have loved to have chatted about the creation of the wonderful bassline on “Under Pressure” but he wasn’t up for talking.

However Brian May and Roger Taylor were and when I met them, they suggested instead of recording our chat in a hotel room, we decamp to our radio station to do it properly. This, I began to learn, was typical of them. Getting it right defined them.

So we did, by sneaking out the back of the hotel and driving to the station where I sat down in our largest studio and recorded a conversation to promote the gig and the LP. They were real enthusiasts about their music, genuinely pleased people wanted to hear what they were doing and absolute gentlemen with everyone they met. Lots of bands and artists get too big for their boots.

Not Queen.

So as a band, they richly deserve this accolade of being celebrated on stamps. British icons that remain grounded. Not easy. Brian and Roger recently recorded a version of “We Are The Champions” for the NHS. Brian asked Adam Lambert their singer what he’d do to change the lyrics. Adam decided only one word should be changed from Freddie’s original lyrics “We” became “You”. They recorded that separately from their locations across the world and it has become a hit all over again.

That is the essence of Queen. Decency.’

by Martin Alexander.

Did you know….?

  • Freddie Mercury designed the Queen crest, using the astrological signs of the four members: two Leos, one Cancer and one Virgo. Despite this, Freddie claimed not to believe in astrology.
  • Brian’s guitar is over 200 years old. He and his Dad built it from scratch, using the wood from a 200-year-old mantlepiece.
  • The videos for ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Spread Your Wings’ were both shot in Roger’s backyard.
  • The band only released ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ as a single because Michael Jackson suggested they do so (after dropping by backstage at their LA show).
  • Freddie Mercury was completely confident in his performance, his singing and playing abilities, but he was not confident in his piano skills and feared playing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
  • Roger Taylor almost never joined Queen; he was offered the chance to join Genesis but refused.
  • ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ was composed in the bath. Mercury even had the piano brought to Bath so he could carry on developing his idea!
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