Category: long post

George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun”, August 1, 1971

From the Concert for Bangladesh of course. You can see at the beginning how nervous George was! Not only his first solo performance, his first concert appearance at all since 1966, featuring his first performances of his own compositions ever – but here, also for the first time on stage, vulnerable and stripped down to an acoustic guitar. George’s little smile as the audience reaches out to him is priceless.

His duet partner, Badfinger’s Pete Ham, later revealed that they hadn’t even rehearsed! “George just wanted to keep it simple,” he said. After George told him the chord changes, Pete ducked into his hotel room to listen to the version on Abbey Road a couple of times, and that’s all there was time for! 

The result: magic. And beauty and joy and, yes, sun, sun, sun! Here it comes!

(Mi pequeña, está toda bien!)

(Note that by the time you come across this post, the video may have been taken down. It happens. Here’s the YouTube search for you to find another version. Worth the extra clicks!)

“The night I introduced Chrissie Hynde to Joan Jett,” by photographer Donna Santisi

“I met Chrissie in April 1980. The Pretenders were playing their second concert, at the Santa Monica Civic. I was already a huge fan. It was also Joan’s first performance at the Whisky with the Blackhearts. After their show, I took Chrissie upstairs to meet Joan. Chrissie was sisterly with her, giving her advice. 

“At one point, they start dropping their pants to compare the black and blue marks they got from their guitars.” 

(Below, Chrissie pulling off Joan’s pants!)

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“Joan would let me photograph anything I wanted. But I had just met Chrissie and she was more guarded, so she wouldn’t let me take the photo.”

(Below, Donna Santisi photographing the bruises Joan got from playing her guitar!)

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(Top two photos and story source here. Bottom photo source here.)

Richie Havens – Here Comes The Sun (1971)

The first time that most people had ever seen or heard Richie
Havens wasn’t at Woodstock. It was when they saw Woodstock the movie.
That’s the thing about Woodstock.
Only a relative handful of people knew much about what happened there – and there
was nothing resembling a consensus on even the basics – until long after the
fact. 

So not in 1969. Not even necessarily 1970. For a lot of people, it wasn’t
even until well into 1971, when Woodstock was awarded the Best Documentary
Oscar in April and the film was subsequently re-released into theaters with a much, much
higher profile than before.

As a result, quite a few of the performers featured in the
film had their chart peaks and released their best-selling albums not in 1969,
not in 1970, but in 1971.
These included performers as varied as Joan Baez, The
Who, and Melanie, among others – like Richie Havens.

Richie been kicking around Greenwich Village since the 50s, when Beatnik poets were still the biggest draws in the local clubs. He wasn’t the first act
scheduled to appear at Woodstock. He was simply the only one there at all
by the time the crowds were
starting to get restless, and promoters were already afraid that the whole thing
was about to get away from them.

The legend is that he played the better part of three hours
as staff kept pushing him back on stage to keep the crowd occupied, and
that having sung every song he knew (including “Handsome Johnny”, already on
its way to becoming a standard), he was left to make something up on the spot,
riffing on “Freedom” over the base of “Motherless Child”.

While the reality is somewhat less dramatic than the legend,
what we saw in the film was jaw-dropping. It translated into chart success in 1971,
with by far his highest charting album, Alarm Clock (peaking at #29; his next album
peaked at just #55, with no others after that breaking into the Top 100), and the
one and only charting single of his long and distinguished career in the spring
of 1971, a glorious cover of
“Here Comes The Sun”.

Richie’s version is so different from The Beatles that there’s
really no point in arguing which is better. They barely seem like even the same song, but I’m glad we live in a world where we have both. I think it’s also safe to say that even if we’d never had The
Beatles version, Richie’s version would have been a hit on its own.
He packed an incredible amount of music into
his 72 years, and this one is one of the true gems.

This live version has an even shaggier charm than the
version on Alarm Clock, and if Woodstock the movie taught us anything, it’s that
the best part of any Richie Havens performance isn’t his soothingly ragged
voice, or the relentless innovation and drive of his open-chord strumming, but
the pleasure of watching him play and sing.

“Here Comes The Sun” spent 14 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart,
peaking at #16 on May 21, 1971, just about a month after Woodstock won its
Oscar. Even more than that one, this is the version you need to hear…and see.

TURN IT UP! Joe Walsh with The James Gang, “Walk Away”, 1971

The James Gang was one of those bands that hit so much harder live than on their studio records that it’s almost impossible to believe that they’re the same guys. Their two 1971 albums offer the perfect contrast, Thirds (a solid but tame record from whence comes this glorious single), and James Gang In Concert, recorded in May 1971 at Carnegie Hall and released later that year.

I’m surprised the hall was still standing when they were done. It’s the loudest slab of vinyl I’ve ever put on a turntable – even with the volume turned all the way down, the racket coming straight out of the needle scraping through the grooves unamplified was flat out unbelievable. Very much in keeping with the ethos proclaimed in the liner notes of the previous year’s James Gang Rides Again“Made Loud To Be Played Loud.”

This performance from Germany’s Beat Club, first aired July 24, 1971, somewhat splits the difference between the civilized, if still loud, studio band, and the utter savages (in a good way!) of James Gang on stage. Surely you’ve already pressed play, and heard Joe Walsh absolutely ROAR into this thing. If all you know of him is what you’ve heard on the radio or with the Eagles, you’re in for an eye-opening, and ear-opening delight.

I had once thought of this song as a pleasant bit of science fiction. The MAN in the song is the one who wants to talk about his feelings and where the relationship is going, while “you just turn your pretty head and walk away.” Riiiight. Because that’s how men are. Just won’t shut up about relationships.  ‾\_(ツ)_/‾

Well, maybe Joe really IS that way, because the song sounds pretty damn persuasive, and other than being a little condescending, it’s not especially mean, which automatically sets him above most men of the day.

(1971 was the first great year for a wide swath women artists in classic rock, but women as a lot were alas still not faring well at the hands of male writers. Still aren’t, either, which is a story for another day.)

I actually started rethinking this song when I read what Stevie Nicks had to say about Joe Walsh, whom she describes as “the great, great love of my life.”

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She said of their breakup: “It nearly killed me. We had to break up or we thought we’d die. We were just too excessive.

We were busy superstars and we were doing way too much drugs. We were really, seriously drug addicts. We were a couple on the way to hell. 

But there was no closure. It took me years to get over it — if I ever did. It’s very sad but at least we survived. 

He was the one I would have married, and that I would probably have changed my life around for a little bit, anyway. Not a lot. 

[my note: the fact that she concedes that she’d have changed only a little bit, and only “probably”, suggests that she’s maybe not exaggerating the rest.] 

There was no other man for me. I look back at all the men in my life, and there was only one that I can honestly say I could truly have lived with every day for the rest of my life, because there was respect and we loved to do the same things. I was very content with him all the time. That’s only happened once in my life. 

This man, if he’d asked me to marry him, I would have. There was nothing more important than Joe Walsh — not my music, not my songs, not anything. He was the great, great love of my life.(more here)

So on top of being better at relationships and rocking harder than you might have thought, he’s also a terrific technical guitarist, and a hilarious storyteller. I heard him tell a story on the radio in 1988 or so, involving him and George Harrison, that I’ve never seen documented, but I dropped everything I was doing to listen. 

I even remember exactly where I was – in the back room of the bookstore I managed in Washington, DC, way past time to go home, but I didn’t want to miss the end of the story during the long walk to my car.

This is paraphrased, but it’s pretty damn close. I started telling this story to everyone within earshot right away, and you’ll get why. 

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(btw, I don’t have a picture of Joe and George together, although they shared a stage a time or two. There are quite a few pictures of Joe and Ringo, though – not only did Joe play in some editions of Ringo’s All-Star Band, they’re married to sisters! Marjorie and Barbara Bach, so yeah, they’re brothers in law.)

Anyway, Joe said that the one piece of advice he gives every guitarist trying to learn the instrument, “Learn to play every song The Beatles ever did, and sound exactly like they did. Doesn’t matter if you hate The Beatles or don’t want to sound anything like them when you’re done, because once you can play everything they played, exactly the way they sounded, you can do anything that it’s possible to do on a guitar.”

Well, there was one song that was vexing him, the very last one that he still couldn’t figure out – “And Your Bird Can Sing” from Revolver. When he finally got it, he was beside himself. He called up George Harrison to make sure he was home (both fellas were living in Los Angeles at the time), said, “Stay there, I got something you gotta hear!” 

He packed up his amps and his guitar, drove over to George’s house, and started setting up. “What is it?” asked George. “Just wait,” replied Joe, and kept setting up. 

When Joe finally unleashed a note-perfect “And Your Bird Can Sing”, George fell out of his chair laughing. “How the hell did you do that?” “Well, it took me long enough to figure out,” Joe said, “so I was going to ask YOU how YOU did it.”

George said, “The way *I* did it was John and me playing in unison, and then double-tracked! I can’t figure out how you did it by yourself, even though I just saw you do it!” 

Well, Joe was left feeling pretty good about himself, managing to sound like the equivalent of four Beatles guitarists all by himself, if a little exasperated to have spent so much time figuring out something that he should have known better than to try – but he did it anyway. THAT’s Joe Walsh for ya.

I hope you’ve already hit play AGAIN on that blistering take on 1971′s “Walk Away” up top, because Joe really was killing it that year. There’s more to him than you probably think, too, so if you’re into the heavy guitar thing, you should definitely do some exploring.

Led Zeppelin fans in particular, I’m looking at you. Joe and Jimmy were friends from Jimmy’s days in The Yardbirds, and it was Joe who said, man, you’ve gotta quit monkeying around with that Telecaster. When you’re ready to rock, switch to a Les Paul – and indeed, Jimmy bought his first Les Paul (known as “#1″) from Joe in 1969, for $1200, which Joe says he flew out to hand-deliver to Jimmy. Says Jimmy, “Joe brought it for me when we played the Fillmore. He insisted I buy it, and he was right.”

(btw, nifty pic from Joe’s Twitter feed of him and Jimmy hanging out after LZ’s February 12 show at The Garden in 1975!)

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I wouldn’t want to say that Led Zeppelin’s approach to live jamming was necessarily influenced by James Gang, but I’m saying that they were similar and Joe got there first. LOL And seriously, if you dig live Zeppelin, you NEED to know more about live James Gang and early solo Joe.

(More details about #1 than anyone but a gearhead would want here, here, here, and here, but hey, maybe you’re a gearhead!)

To give you a head start for exploring more James Gang and early solo Joe, I’ll add one more video, from 1972, “Turn To Stone” featuring Fanny’s Jean Millington on bass absolutely slaying dragons on this monster. As Joe told Rolling Stone,

“Turn to Stone” was written about the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War and the protesting that was going on and all of that. It’s a song about frustration. Also, I attended Kent State. I was at the shootings. That fueled it, too. In those days it felt like the government’s priority was not the population. They had an agenda that was about something other than doing what was necessarily good for the country.

A few years later [in 1980], I decided to run for president myself. [Ed. Note: Walsh pledged to make “Life’s Been Good” the new national anthem.] I thought it’d be a great idea and I had fun with it. And the reason I did it is because there was, and there continues to be, a very apathetic attitude toward voting. There’s a total separation between the federal government and the people. So running for president was an attempt on my part to get people to care enough to go vote. But people just don’t bother. And that’s why it’s not working.

TURN IT UP!

Oh what the heck, and one more from July 20 1971, from the French TV show Pop2, “The Bomber” (from 1970′s Rides Again) which includes a quick little nod to “Beck’s Bolero” along the way.  (Well, technically I suppose, Ravel’s “Bolero”, and indeed, Ravel’s estate made them remove the reference from initial pressings of the album!)

And another note for LZ fans: Joe does some crazy stuff with his bare hands at around 2:30-3:30 going into “Bolero” that Jimmy did with a violin bow. THAT’s Joe Walsh for ya.

TURN IT UP!

“I sold my first strap to the amazing ROBERT PLANT 1971!” by Jan Nicolas. “I had been working in leather for a while before I started making straps.  I had a few beautiful ones hanging in my studio/office.  Led Zeppelin were in town at the Continental Hyatt ‘riot’ House Hotel.  My friend Linda and I used to spend weekends hanging out in the coffee shop to star gaze.  In the evening, they had a line winding through the lobby to accommodate all the people who wanted to meet Rock Stars.  

“This was a pretty quiet Saturday afternoon, and I grabbed a strap that I thought would suit RP and we found him hanging out in the lobby with body guards, groupies and photographers.  

“I was so shy, that my girlfriend had to call him over to look at the strap.  He loved it, he paid $100 for it and gladly posed for a photo.  Happily, one of the magazine photographers was a friend, and took this picture for me.  I was still in high school, and I was  completely overwhelmed when Mr. Plant cuddled right up to me for the picture.  Now, it is my all time favorite.”

More here. My edits to the pictures she posted, but do click through for more of her amazing story.

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Only John would have gotten the kind of reaction he did. Not just compared to Paul. Compared to anyone.

The reaction to his death had everything to do with John’s unique connection to us, and ours to him. 

People gathered spontaneously by the hundreds and thousands around the world from the moment they heard the news on December 8, 1980.

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On the day of his memorial, December 14, over 100,000 people came together outside his home in New York alone. 

Every radio station in New York went silent for 10 minutes (not just rock stations, either: every station) as did other stations across the country. 

Individuals around the world went silent, too. I certainly did, and so did many of my friends.

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Here are some of the reasons that I believe that only John’s passing touched us this way, and why it still touches us.

 

John was OUR Beatle.

When John & Yoko moved to New York in August 1971, they never went back to England again.

More than that, John fought be here. Almost from the moment he arrived, the US government was trying to throw him out. Constant FBI surveillance, deportation hearings – it took years of battles for him just to be able to stay here at all.

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The pictures of them walking to and from court (above, in March 1972) weren’t just staged for publicity. You can find hundreds of pictures of John & Yoko walking around New York, because that’s what they did.


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Their address, first in Greenwich Village, then near Central Park, were public knowledge. The night of December 8, 1980, John did what he usually did. He stopped to talk to fans who had been waiting for him outside his home. 

Even if you didn’t live in New York, it was very much in your mind that if you wanted to meet John, you knew you could. It was easy.

Which is also how John came to such a sudden end. John was vulnerable because he chose to live vulnerably.

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The Imagine album was released 9/9/71, the single released 11/11/71

And look at the songs: “Imagine,” “Power To The People,” “Instant Karma (We All Shine On),” “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” “Give Peace A Chance,” “All You Need Is Love” – nobody else could have written even one of these, much less all of them.

It’s easy to point to John’s hypocrisy (which John talked about as much as any of his critics did) and the fact that he was generally a blowhard with an opinion about everything and just roll your eyes, but the fact is that he genuinely aspired to a better world in a way that resonated with us.

It resonated with the people in power, too. The US government in particular was terrified of him. That’s why starting in 1971, John was constantly under FBI surveillance, and under the constant threat of being thrown out of the country.

Portions of the FBI’s files on John were kept secret until 2011 because the government said the information about John’s surveillance endangered national security!

If you’re interested, you finally can see John’s complete FBI files here, and can learn more about it in the film The US  vs John Lennon.

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It wasn’t until 1976 that John was granted permission to stay in the US. Below, showing off his shiny new green card.

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I could go on at length about the depth and breadth of his fundraising and activism – not just anti-war, but also racial and gender equality, education (including leading a protest march for free speech for high school students!), criminal justice reforms, and much more.


The US government’s fear of John Lennon was very much rooted in reality, and we loved that about him. He was speaking for us.


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The non-album single"Power to the People" was released March 22, 1971.


Remembering the way that John inspired us led to headlines like this one: “DEATH OF A HERO”


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You can see the way that this still resonates when, in 2013, the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India led 600 guitarists to gather in Darjeeling to play “Imagine” together, in both protest and hope.

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John’s connection to us was also intimately personal.

Inspiration, out there, is one thing. John wanted more than that. Or you could say, he wanted less. As far as he was concerned, the world had more people wanting to be leaders than was good for us. 

Instead, he wanted to touch us. 

More than the other Beatles, maybe more than any musician ever, John opened himself to us.

There was the literal nakedness of theTwo Virgins album, and these famous portraits by

Annie Leibovitz

taken the very afternoon that John was murdered.

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More important, there was also the emotional nakedness. 

On Plastic Ono Band he dismantled his stardom as he howled out isolation, abandonment, and pain, side by side with songs of wounded tenderness and simplicity. It’s easily among the most personally revealing albums ever released by anyone.

Of course, he’d been doing this since the beginning, even if it wasn’t until later that he explained to us just how very desperate he felt when he wrote songs like “Help!,” “I’m A Loser,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” and others. While other rock stars were making drugs look cool, John was the first one I ever heard sing about the harrowing fear and and chaos they caused him, in “Cold Turkey.”

What he showed us when we got close wasn’t always pretty, including on 1971′s Imagine. The vision of the title song is right up against his confession of being a “Jealous Guy” who causes pain, and his undisguised anger at Paul in “How Do You Sleep?” 

He quickly apologized to Paul, both privately and publicly, admitting that his anger ultimately had nothing to do with Paul, that it was all in John’s own head.

And that’s the thing. Some people thought of John as a saint. John didn’t.

It wasn’t (and isn’t) always easy being a fan of John’s. He could be cruel and violent, he was unfaithful to both his wives and a terrible father to his first son, he let drugs and alcohol get the better of him, and much more.

He finally figured out that he couldn’t be a rock star and be the kind of man he wanted to be, so he quit. 

It’s easy to forget now, but he only headlined two concerts, both of them benefits, in 1971 and 1972. He played a few songs on stage with Elton John in 1974, but that was it for live shows. A few albums of course, but after some famous (and infamous) detours, he cleaned up, got into therapy, and became a full-time dad – the first time many of us had heard of such a thing.

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Not that he’d gotten everything together by the end, not at all – but he was definitely moving in the right direction for once. He seemed happy, in some ways, for the first time in his life. 

One of the final songs he recorded after his long hiatus said it was like he was starting over, and it was clear that, even more than his recording career, he was talking about his life

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And we were watching it happen, because he lived in the open, still walking the streets of New York. 

So there really was that strange extra sense that you get when a friend or neighbor suddenly passes, a confusion, almost like, “But he was just here. I was just talking to him.”

It’s still almost inconceivable that any celebrity was that accessible, either emotionally or physically, in real life, but John Lennon was. 

John’s passing also reminded us that The Beatles were HIS band.

On one level, this is simply, literally true. John had a band already. The others joined it.

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John wasn’t the best musician in The Beatles, though. He wasn’t even the best guitarist.

Whether he was the best writer is irrelevant. He and Paul created magic together, and they also challenged each other to be better writers on their own. Paul was more driven and ambitious, but even Paul was very clear: they all looked up to John.


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John’s death also meant that there would never be a Beatles reunion. Sure, we knew it was never going to happen really, but we could still talk about at least a one-off concert at some point down the line, right? 

But now, no. 

So there’s a sense in which, when John died, The Beatles died too.

Frankly, to many of us, it felt like the 60s had finally died too.


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Mourning John Lennon 

Please note that I’m not placing John’s murder above assassinations like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Kennedys. 

John himself would say that his death was no more important than any of the people of color singled out for killing by American police, “security” guards, and vigilantes, or the mass shootings taking place every day in America for no apparent reason other than that they can.

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The glasses John was wearing when he was shot, photo by Yoko Ono 

Again underscoring how ultimately insignificant to the world John himself would acknowledge his death to be, this is still only a small look at the scale of our response to it at the time. 

We reacted more strongly to John Lennon’s death than we would have to anyone else’s, because he was more a part of our lives.

Not necessarily because he was our favorite Beatle. Ultimately, not even necessarily that he was a Beatle at all.


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John Lennon wanted to connect to us, personally, intimately, deeply, and he did. 

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John Lennon, 1971. Below, Strawberry Fields in Central Park, NY

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Stevie Nicks in Hawaii with George Harrison and their mutual friend Bob Longhi, 1978, by Mary DeVitto.

I found this photo while looking for more information on an earlier photo of Stevie and George that I reblogged from @musicrunsthroughmysoul, along with this amazing story from Stevie, via Fleetwood Mac News:

“The photo was taken by my best friend, Mary (DeVitto),” Stevie explains. “She had given me a copy of it a long time ago, and I had it made into an 8 x 10 and put in a little frame. When I go on the road it goes right on my makeup mirror, so before I go on stage, whether it’s with Fleetwood Mac or me in my solo career, the three of us are looking back at me and that has been my inspiration every single night. 

There’s lots of nights where you kind of go, I wish I didn’t have to go on stage tonight, I’m tired, I don’t feel like doing it, and I look at George Harrison and look at Longhi and look at me and I go, well, you just have to, because it’s important, it’s important to make people happy, so get out of your chair, put on your boots and go out there and do your thing.”

The two musicians were having fun coming up with lyrics together in Hana. “We were writing a sort of parody of ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ but we were writing ‘Here Comes the Moon’,” she continues. “Longhi was saying, ‘you guys are writing about the moon instead of the sun,’ and I said, that’s because by then we were all such night birds.

“I had met George before that at a record party in Mexico in Acapulco for ‘Rumours.’ Longhi saw George all the time. He drove me and my friend Sara and Mary to George’s house in Hana. And we just hung out and wrote and sang and talked. I had been famous for not even quite three years and we were talking with George about being famous and what it meant and what you had to give up.”

And here’s “Here Comes The Moon”, a song you might have missed, but truly shouldn’t! From his 1979 album, George Harrison.

soundsof71:

misscherrylikesthediscourse:

pseudo-euphoria:

iwannabeadored:

soundsof71:

Dancing barefoot: Patti Smith, 1975, by Bill King

Ummmm yall? The source for this is a foot fetish wiki??? Hello??????

ok feet

Look, my process is 1) see a picture I like, 2) look for the biggest, clearest source I can, 3) find out everything I can about when and where it was taken, and by whom, plus maybe a germane quote from either photographer or subject, 4) edit it if I think I can improve it, and 5) post with credit for the photographer and source, and note if I’ve changed it substantially from how it was originally posted. Sometimes this takes hours, sometimes days or weeks.

I probably first found a tiny version of this on Pinterest, with no details or photographer credits (typical, and aggravating af, although thanks for setting me on the hunt), and kept looking until I found the best version I could, tracked down the photographer and date, and shared all that with you. 

Citing sources doesn’t imply approval of everything on the site the picture came from, but hey, my thanks to the freaks who are so carefully preserving the artifacts of our shared musical heritage. Preservation? Maybe call it pervs-ervation, but you’re welcome for the awesome picture with proper credits.

Although I tag “barefoot” because there are often unusual circumstances at play in photos with bare feet, nothing more to it than that… my main reaction to seeing all this is a) love to everyone who interacts with my posts, and b) wondering if we should all go upvote Patti’s feet. That score just doesn’t seem right to me.

Freddie Mercury and Jane Seymour at Fashion Aid, 1985

So a while back, I posted some pics of Freddie Mercury, Jane Seymour, and Boy George at Fashion Aid, November 5, 1985 at The Royal Albert Hall. Organized by Bob Geldof following Live Aid, the guest list was just as impressive in its own way – Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Kate Bush, Michael Caine, Ringo, George Michael, Zandra Rhodes, and many more.

Which made me wonder, were there more pics of Freddie and Jane in particular out there that I hadn’t found yet? OH YES THERE WERE!

(With lipstick on Fred’s cheek?)

AND THEN I FOUND THE VIDEO!!!

It turns out that the climax of the event was a faux wedding between Fred and Jane! In it, you can see that Freddie is not only shirtless but BAREFOOT as he sweeps Jane off her feet, into his arms!

You’ll see other celebs, as well as the full orchestra and choir who are dressed no less spectactularly.

This really is some pretty wild stuff. Sources for all this here, here, here, and here, all of which I did some additional editing on. Almost none had credits, but I’m thinking that most of if not all photos are by Dave Hogan.

Note that some of the sources I linked to just above had a LOT more photos in case you want to build a Freddie Mercury-Jane Seymour wedding album of your own!

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” BY JOHN DEACON. 

(The picture sleeve released in Yugoslavia in case you were wondering.)

John Deacon. That fluffy fella third from the left, seen at Ridge Farm in 1975, where the band was working on A Night At The Opera

Here’s another of him, via discodeaky (whose outstounding blog, these days known as @doktordyper, you should definitely get to know if you don’t). 

Fluffy.

He didn’t just play bass, though. When he happened upon a Wurlitzer electric piano (the Wurlitzer EP-200, NOT a Fender Rhodes as if often misidentified; they actually sound nothing alike), he asked Fred about it, who scoffed. “I refuse to play the damn thing. It’s tinny and horrible and I don’t like them. Why play those things when you’ve got a lovely superb grand piano?”

John’s response? “I took it home and I started to learn on the electric piano and basically that’s the song that came out, you know, when I was learning to play piano.“

(Quotes via songfacts, Wurlitzer detail via queensongs.info.)

The song we’re talking about is “You’re My Best Friend.” The first song he wrote when he was teaching himself to play the electric piano. 

And since Freddie refused to play the Wurlitzer, JOHN played the piano on the record that we know and love. 

He also layed down a righteous bassline (not at the same time, mind you), and the fact is, as often as we talk about John writing this really terrific song (the second single from the album), I almost never hear anyone talking about how well he PLAYED on it, too.

Not bad for a first try!

So, from the 40th anniversary re-release of A Night At The Opera, here’s the backing track for “You’re My Best Friend”. It includes some lovely vocals and some of Brian May’s sweetest guitar work (5 layers of rhythm, plus the lead, running through the legendary Deacy Amp, designed and built by John in 1972 and finally released commercially in 2010 – you can buy it online, at deacyamp.com!), but this stripped down version allows you to really hear what John was doing on piano and bass. 

TURN IT UP.

Freddie conceded that John was able to get a distinctive sound out of the Wurlitzer, but he was still having none of it. Not only did he ONLY play it on a grand piano in concert, in the official video release, we do indeed see Deacy at the piano, but it’s a GRAND PIANO, and NOT a Wurlitzer!!! Seriously, Fred was having NONE of it.

Whatever, man. It’s a heckuva track. Maximum Deacy, and don’t you forget it.

And in fairness to Fred’s dislike for the Wurlitzer, he slays this song vocally. The 1975 black nail polish look is also killer. 

By the way, John played keyboards on other tracks (notably “Another One Bites The Dust”), as well as guitar now and again (especially on his own songs for Hot Space), and really, that’s his story in Queen. Doing what he has to, and doin’ just fine, thanks for asking.

And fluffy.

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