Monday, 31 May 2010

Thanks to this explains which songs were played when...

Saturday 28th March 1970: Sour Milk Sea play at Wardour Street, London, and break up afterwards, leaving Freddie without a band.

Saturday 9th May 1970: Smile play at the Imperial College in Kensington, London. That'd be their last concert. Later, Tim Staffell would quit.

Saturday 27th June 1970: At some point between 9th May and this date, Queen were founded by Freddie, Brian and Roger, who'd been friends for a while. Smile had a concert booked for this date, which was played by Queen instead (using the name 'Smile' as flyers were already printed) at the City Hall in Truro, Cornwall, England. Roger's friend Mike Grose was the bassist. The only original song in the setlist was apparently Stone Cold Crazy.

Saturday 25th July 1970: PJs, Truro. The third concert Queen ever played and last with Mike Grose. Another Roger's acquaintance, Barry Mitchell, would replace him. Liar was, reportedly, already in the set-list, but no more original songs.

Sunday 23rd August 1970: First concert with Barry. Over the past month, the founding members had rehearsed more original tunes which would be added to the set during this period: Keep Yourself Alive, Great King Rat, Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll, Son and Daughter and Hangman.

Saturday 31st October 1970: Halloween night, and Queen were honoured to play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool (the legendary place where The Beatles started). Coincidentally, exactly five years after that, Queen would release Bohemian Rhapsody as a single.

Friday 8th January 1971: Queen played at the Marquee Club in Soho for the first time. That venue would be very important in their early concert days.

Saturday 9th January 1971: Last concert with Barry Mitchell, at a College in Surrey.

Friday 19th February 1971: First post-Mitchell concert, held in Haringey, North London. Jesus could've been in the set-list as they'd rehearsed it with Barry and had a month to polish it after he left. Bass player was now a bloke called Doug (surname uncertain).

Saturday 20th February 1971: The band played in SW London as an opening act for Yes.

Sunday 21st February - Thursday 1st of July 1971: Between these dates, there were no concerts played. The reasons being, they were all busy with college, busy enough for Doug to call it quits. They auditioned John Deacon to be the bassist and another bloke to play rhythm guitar; the latter didn't get the part, but John would complete the line-up and that's how Queen would be for their entire career.

Friday 2nd July 1971: First concert with John Deacon, perhaps at the same College in Ewell they'd played the previous year. The Night Comes Down was probably added to the set around this time.

Saturday 17th July to Saturday 21st August 1971: Roger's mum arranged a tour around the county of Cornwall in South England. They all travelled in a van and had their equipment there. During these concerts, John get to know the band a lot better and turned 20. Many of the songs were later recorded on the first album.

Sunday 22nd August to Tuesday 5th October: No concerts during this period. Brian met up with a friend who got them their first recording session, which was held on one day (presumably Saturday the 18th of September) at De Lane Lea Music Centre.

Wednesay 6th October 1971: Concert at the Imperial College in London.

Thursday 9th December 1971: Queen play at an indoor pool in Surrey, with awful results. They wouldn't get another gig until New Year's Eve in South London and then four weeks after that at a College in Bedford. The band wasn't yet a full-time job so concerts were occasional.

During 1972 there were few concerts but the first album 'Queen' was recorded.

Performing in a marquee

This is quite a well known image of Roger playing with 'Reaction' somewhere in Cornwall. Looks like theyre under canvas....but where was this gig exactly???

UPDATE 3/6/10 Richard Prest of Kernow Beat has just contacted me and drawn my attention to an interview with members of The Reaction that is on his helps explain the image...

Roger left Truro in October 1967 to enrol on a Dentistry course at the London School of Medicine. He didn’t return until the summer of 1968, when The Reaction staged a series of gigs dubbed the “Summer Coast Sound Experience”, which took place in a friend’s marquee on various beaches across the West Coast shoreline.

“I remember playing gigs on the beach”, says Ricky Penrose. “The life savers took us across in a jeep. Sand used to get in all the equipment. It was bloody awful”.

“We played on a beach”, recalls Mike Dudley, “with power running 200 yards on a single cable from a farmhouse somewhere, completely unearthed, completely unsafe, all from a generator with it’s associated hum. And it rained a lot that summer! … We did quite a few gigs, got a few hundred people into the marquee and had a lot of fun. It was a captive audience if we went to somewhere like Perrenporth – people had nothing else to do”.

“There’s a wonderful photo”, adds Mike, “of us playing in a marquee, labelled ‘A disastrous booking in a thunderstorm at Trevellas Port.’ Which was close to St. Agnes where I lived. That was September 1968, and it features me wearing disgusting floral flares. We never got very psychedelic. We had a homemade light show with oil-and-water bubbles swirling around, but that was it”. Ricky Penrose agrees: “Yeah, we had dreadful flowery trousers. The worst thing about them was the look you got when you stopped for petrol”.

UPDATE 9/6/10: Ricky Penrose says he was nearly electrocuted that night. Thats him on the left.

Thanks to for this list of Smile concerts

Smile was the band Roger formed with Brian May in London. They knew Freddie at this time but he was in a different band...

summer 1968 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
summer 1968 Smile Flamingo Ballroom Redruth UK
summer 1968 Smile Imperial College London UK
26.10.1968 Smile Imperial College London UK
31.01.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
27.02.1969 Smile Royal Albert Hall London UK
28.02.1969 Smile Athletic Club Richmond UK
15.03.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
28.03.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
29.03.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
18.04.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
19.04.1969 Smile Revolution Club London UK
31.05.1969 Smile Whisky A Go Go London UK
19.07.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
13.09.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
14.09.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
18.10.1969 Smile College Union Watford UK
01.11.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
06.12.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
13.12.1969 Smile The Marquee Club London UK
31.01.1970 Smile Imperial College London UK
24.04.1970 Smile Eel Pie Island Twickenham UK
09.05.1970 Smile Imperial College London UK

Whats interesting about this list is that it seems Smile played their first listed gig in Truro and then went on to play PJs a total of ten times - as well as the Flamingo in Redruth...

So Queen, with Freddie Mercury played 13 times in Cornwall and Smile, with Tim Staffell, also played 13 or 14 times...BUT strangely this fact is not celebrated in any public space and we're talking here about the second highest selling UK act after the Beatles...

UPDATE: 3/6/10 Will need to check accuracy of those Summer 1968 performances...Roger was playing with Reaction in the Summer of 1968 - did Brian May and Tim Staffell also come down that Summer??? Not according to the biogs which all say that the first Smile gig was at Imperial College supporting Pink Floyd.

UPDATE: 5/6/10 There is an advert in the West Briton for two gigs on the 17th and 18th of April 1970 that are not in this list...

UPDATE: 12/6/10 Just had some correspondence with Mark Blake who is working on what sounds will be an excellent book due out in October. Apparently Richard Thompson who was part of the Smile entourage remembers watching the moon landings in Roger's house on 21st July in 1969.

Smile - Doin' Alright

This is the one Smile song that Queen also recorded. The Queen sound is already evident in this 1969 recording. See lower down the blog for the Queen version...In some ways the Smile version is better...less reverb!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Queen-Seven Seas Of Rhye (RAREST VIDEO 74)

This was Queens first hit.

Queen - Seven Seas Of Rhye [Top Of The Pops]

The only copy of their first performance on TOTPs is not in great condition.

Queen - Doing All Right (Queen Infancy-Early 60's 70's)

This is Queen playing an old Smile song. Some of these Smile songs would have been played on the Cornwall tour.

Queen - The Beginnings [Smile]

This film is the earliest film of Brian and Roger performing together in 1969 as Smile in the Albert Hall. The song is Step on Me, and the film is by Douglas Pudifoot.  The singer is Tim Staffell.

The chords are intro: G F#m etc verse: D  D/C#  F#m  Em G chorus: D A G F#m Em guitar solo is over: Bm F#m F Em x2 then F Em

April Lady - Smile (Pre Queen)

Another Smile song. Probably their weakest in my view.

Verse Bm A G A F#m Bm G A E x2ish chorus E G A A x4

Thursday, 27 May 2010

A list of the earliest Queen concerts (1970 and 1971)

Sat 27th June - UK, Truro, City Hall (bass Mike Gross)
Sat 18th July - UK, London, Imperial College (bass Mike Gross)
Sat 25th July - UK, Truro, PJ's Club (bass Mike Gross)
Sun 23rd Aug - UK, London, Imperial College (bass Barry Mitchell)
Fri 4th Sept - UK, London, Swiss Cottage Private School (bass Barry Mitchell)
Fri 16th Oct - UK, London, College of Estate Management Hall (bass Barry Mitchell)
Fri 30th Oct - UK, St Helens, College of Technology (bass Barry Mitchell)
Sat 31st Oct - UK, Liverpool, Cavern Club (bass Barry Mitchell)
Sat 14th Nov - UK, Hertford, Ballspark College (bass Barry Mitchell)
Sat 5th Dec - UK, Egham, Shoreditch College (bass Barry Mitchell)
Fri 18th Dec - UK, St Helens, College of Technology (bass Barry Mitchell)
Sat 19th Dec - UK, St Helens, Congregational Church Hall (bass Barry Mitchell)

Mon 18th Jan - UK, London, Marquee Club (bass Barry Mitchell)
Sat 9th Jan - UK, Ewell, Technical College (bass Barry Mitchell) (setlist)
Fri 19th Feb - UK, London, Hornsey Town Hall (bass Doug Bogie)
Sat 20th Feb - UK, London, Kingston Polytechnic (bass Doug Bogie)
Fri 2nd July - UK, Surrey, College (bass John Deacon)
Sun 11th July - UK, London, Imperial College
Sat 17th July - UK, Penzance, The Gardens
Mon 19th July - UK, Hayle, Rugby Club
Sat 24th July - UK, Wadebridge, Young Farmers Club
Thu 29th July - UK, Penzance, The Gardens
Sat 31st July - UK, Truro, City Hall
Mon 2nd Aug - UK, Hayle, Rugby Club
Mon 9th Aug - UK, St Agnes, Driftwood Spars
Thu 12th Aug - UK, Truro, Tregye Hotel
Sat 14th Aug - UK, Culdrose, NCO's Mess, RAF Culdrose
Tue 17th Aug - UK, Truro, City Hall
Sat 21st Aug - UK, Truro, Tregye, Carnon Downs Festival
Wed 6th Oct - UK, London, Imperial College
Thu 9th Dec - UK, Epsom, Swimming Baths
Fri 31st Dec - UK, Twickenham, Rugby Club

The Record Collector Jan 1996

Tracked down a copy of The Record Collector 1996 and rescanned the adverts that appeared in that article. The small print should be just legible especially if you click on the picture. Does any one have any original printed versions of these adverts? The West Briton is microfiched in Truro library. I'll go see what I can find...

Driftwood Spars

This image is from Jacky Smith nee Gunn's excellent book from 1992. Roger already had a reputation in Cornwall it seems.

UPDATE 7/6/10 This advert appears in the West Briton immediately above another less showy advert for Queen playing at Hayle Rugby Club...I will scan and upload both ASAP

Tregye Concert

Interesting...I've found another poster relating to the Tregye Concert...Not as 'revealing' as the flyer...And the Queen name is virtually illegible...

UPDATE 7/6/10 There is a lot in the West Briton 1971 about the Tregye concert...mainly upstanding members of the community complaining about the noise and that kind of thing...but its quite entertaining. Will upload soon.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Some contemporary pics

These pics are of locations that relate to Roger Taylor's own biography: the top image is of the road where he lived as a teenager and the bottom is of his primary school. I'm trying to do more research on these locations so I can put them on a map.

Rik Evans

I ve been in touch with Rik Evans too. He was able to explain that PJs, a music venue that Smile and Queen played in on more than one occasion was on a site where New Look is now. I wonder if anyone has any pictures of this venue as it was then...

The entrance to PJs would have been on the side of the shop looking up the hill...

UPDATE: 6/6/10 Spoken to Pete Bawden (the eponymous PJ) who said that PJs had been an Army Drill Hall that had fallen into disrepair and was leased to him at a knocked-down rate. Later it became a Tescos and a 'C and A' before becoming 'New Look'. Hoping to meet him soon so more information to follow.

Jacky Smith nee Gunn

Jacky is the president of Queens Official International Fan Club and has been since the early 80s. This is a book she wrote in 1992, and it has the blessing of the band - so is more accurate and includes memorabilia owned by band members  - especially Brian May.

Queen: The Early Years

This book by Mark Hodkinson is a good account of how Queen were formed, and where they lived and played in the early days. The author is not a fan, though, and is very keen to point this out!

Poster from 1971

According to QTED this concert was  - partly - arranged by Rik Evans of Penrose Marquees, who supplied the canvas that covered the walled garden where the bands played. He has pointed out to me that Brewers Droop was Mark Knopfler's band and so there were more than one soon-to-become-very-famous acts performing that day.

Rik also assisted Roger Taylors preQueen band perform at Trevellas Porth and Perranporth: two local beaches.

Postcard from Freddie Mercury, 1971

This postcard came up for sale at Christies recently. It was written by Freddie Mercury from a cottage in Devoran just outside Truro.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Borrowed from 'Queenpedia':

With a ready-made network of contacts back home in Cornwall, Roger Taylor also secured regular gigs for Smile. Among those he sought out was Peter John Bawden, ex- guitarist with Cornish band the Staggerlees (backing band for singer Dave Lee on two singles for Oriole in 1963), who'd recently founded his own Club, PJ's, in Truro. The gigs were coming-home events for Taylor.

“Those weekends in Cornwall were highlights of our time with Smile, because everyone used to make so much fuss of us there”, Tim Staffell told Mark Hodkinson. “It became a great social thing with lots of drinking sessions”. The camaraderie also extended to Mike Dudley, Roger's old friend from the Reaction, who would often join the band on stage. “It was fairly easy to play for a couple of hours after knowing each other for years and years,” he recalls, but as Smile developed, eventually mutating into Queen, Mike's guest spots dried up: “It happened for one or two summers, and then the third it didn't”.

Smile's adverts in the 'amusements' section of Truro's 'West Briton and Royal Cornwall Gazette' were prone to London-style hyperbole: “Beautiful sounds once again from Smile”, promised one; “The fantastic, beautiful Smile”, added another. Did these descriptions fit the band? “Hardly”, admits Tim Staffell. “That was probably more to do with what was being smoked than anything else. Or probably not. That was significant, you know. Smile wasn't a drug band at all. I've no idea what happened in Queen, although I suspect the old nose candy turned up a bit. That's not to say in Smile we didn't have the odd smoke now and again, but compared with some of the things I got into later on - you know, 'Can someone carry me out of the door, please' - it was quite an innocent, clean-cut little outfit. If the drugs squad had asked Brian to turn out the pockets of his cardigan, I can assure you that they have found nothing”.

Further advertiser's license took place on 28th March 1969, when Smile played their debut at PJ's, billing themselves as a “Tremendous London Group” who had “appeared at top clubs, the Revolution and the Speakeasy and have recently broadcast on Radio 1's “Top Gear” Smile had indeed played the fashionable nightspots mentioned (and would continue to do so), but on Radio l? It's difficult to imagine exactly what would have been broadcast on 'Top Gear' in March 1969, given that Smile's debut recording session was still four weeks away. Such an event would have been important enough to have made at least a small impression on the band's lead singer, but Tim Staffell suggests the ad was a ruse. Although 26 years have passed since the alleged broadcast, 'Top Gear's presenter, John Peel, is similarly adamant that it never took place. “They didn't record a session, of that I'm certain”, he says. “But it's worth pointing out that in far flung comers of the country, it wasn't uncommon for bands to make these claims”. Just to make sure Peel checked his alphabetically catalogued personal record/acetate collection, and no such disc exists there.
Freddie Mercury finally received his wish to join the band after his own outfits - Ibex, Wreckage and Sour Milk Sea - ground to a halt. When the last of these acts disintegrated in early 1970, he jumped at the chance to fill Staffell's shoes. “I left Smile because I was beginning to be seduced by the way the Americans made music”, recounts Tim. “There is a radical difference to the way English people do it. Around 1970, I bought one album which completely changed my attitude towards music and that was Ry Cooder's first album”. (The self titled; Ry Cooder LP was released on the Reprise Label in 1970). “That was a real catalyst. I suddenly decided against English rock and the way it works”. Speaking to Laura Jackson, he added: “Whereas I left Smile for my own reasons, in one sense I was moving out of the way, and the birth and evolution of Queen were a natural outcome”. Quote from Freddie Mercury set… “Thank God I moved aside!”… Or something similar!

While Freddie matched the power of Tim's voice, he couldn't even attempt to follow his bass playing, and it took two men to replace him. Mike Grose, a friend of Roger's from Truro (no relation to the Reaction's Johnny Grose – but I thought they were brothers!), became the second new member of the band, and Queen's original bassist.

Smile played their last gigs in Roger's home town of Truro, and their mutation into Queen is documented in adverts placed in the town's West Briton' newspaper. Although the name change had occurred a short while earlier, on 27th June 1970, at a gig at the town's City Hall, they were billed - for contractual reasons - as Smile. On 25th July, at “PJ's”, they were advertised as “Queen (formerly Smile)”. Queen's London debut took place the weekend before, at Imperial College, on the 12th June 1970.