It’s not too often that I publish personal blogs and this is only my second, but I wanted to write about my day with Freddie.
At a very young age I asked my dad how too much love can kill you? So young in fact that I have no memory of it.
I grew up listening to mostly metal, prog rock and classic rock with both parents fans of the genres. My dad was always a huge Queen fan, while my mum fell asleep at one of their concerts. Terrible, I know.
I had always been an unknowing fan of the music growing up, liking most of the popular songs as a child and forgetting that some of the songs I liked were even by them (e.g. You’re my best friend). It was almost impossible not to love Bohemian Rhapsody, I recall seeing the video clip in pre-school and hearing some of their songs at primary school discos and sporting events.
I got into more of their material when I started to sing in high school falling in love with songs like Somebody to love and You take my breath away. I even had the opportunity to sing Bohemian Rhapsody with a choir and full band behind me during a lunch time concert in high school. It always saddened me to know that I would never have the opportunity to see them live, like many other bands I love.
I was always a fan of Queen, and I was intrigued by Adam Lambert on American Idol, both my parents and I loved his performances on the show. It still never occurred to me that I would ever have the chance to see them live.
In 2012 when the announcement was made, I started to plan a trip to the UK to see them perform with Adam Lambert at Sonisphere, which was cancelled before I had made any concrete plans. I had to wait another 2 years until the tour came to Australia, where after attending the show with my family, I immediately bought tickets to the second show in Sydney the following night. The second night saw an impromptu guest appearance by Lady Gaga during Another one bites the dust. It was after seeing them live that I really felt a strong connection to the band and I started to explore much more of their back catalogue.
This weekend my partner and I went to Switzerland for a Black, Avantgarde metal show that he really wanted to see, so I made a request to stop in at Montreux so I could visit the Freddie Mercury statue.
Walking along Lake Geneva I looked out over the water to the snow capped mountains, swans are floating by, and it really was like a landscape painting in the sky… All of a sudden the songs A Winter’s Tale and It’s a beautiful day made so much more sense. It really was so quiet and peaceful, tranquil and blissful. There’s a kind of magic in the air, what a truly magnificent view…
My day in Montreux was much more than just seeing a statue. After a quick Google search I found out that I could visit the Queen Studio Experience in the famed Montreux Casino – yes the one Deep Purple wrote that song about.
The casino was reopened in 1975 with the newly equipped Mountain Studios, which was owned by Queen between 1978 and 1995 where they, and many others recorded a number of their albums including their final album Made in Heaven.
Brian May and Roger Taylor opened the Queen Studio Experience on 2 December 2013, the exhibition was humble yet powerful, free to enter, asking only for a donation to the Freddie Mercury Phoenix Trust. I walked into the main room of the exhibition to find myself alone with Freddie’s voice roaring through the speakers singing It’s a beautiful day, my eyes welled up with tears. I will admit that I still struggle to listen to Made in Heaven with dry eyes, and being in not only the city, but the studio where it was recorded was quite overwhelming.
The exhibition was filled with stories and information about the recordings, including how Under Pressure came to be. The cabinets were filled with merchandise from Brian May’s personal collection and also included hand written lyrics by Freddie, Brian and Roger. There was a set up of what the studio looked like back when they recorded there with both original and replica gear from the band.
There was a mini theater playing an excerpt of their documentary Days of our lives, where Brian and Roger spoke about the time they had spent in Montreux. There was also a replica of the sound desk where the album was recorded. You could play around with the mix for two songs off the album and stand in the spot where Freddie last stood to record these songs, and more tears were shed.
Montreux has such a rich musical history, from the Montreux Jazz Festival and Mountain Studios alone, a lot of magic has been created in this beautiful place.
I highly recommend a visit to Montreux if you ever have the chance.
Lyrics from A Winter’s tale have been used to describe Montreux.