Queen share rare 1975 footage of Freddie Mercury covering Elvis Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock'

5 December 2023, 10:35

Queen have recently revealed rare footage of the band performing Elvis Presley's timeless classic 'Jailhouse Rock' from a concert in 1975.
Queen have recently revealed rare footage of the band performing Elvis Presley's timeless classic 'Jailhouse Rock' from a concert in 1975. Picture: Queen Official YouTube/Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

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Queen knew how to rouse an audience.

The operatic rock band, fronted by the imitable Freddie Mercury, could control a crowd like no other band in the history of rock music.

We're all aware of his "ey-oh" exploits which became world-renowned after Queen's now-legendary performance at Live Aid, which stole the show and solidified the band as one of the greatest ever.

Not only was it Freddie's endless on-stage charisma that engaged audiences however, it was also the band's conveyor belt of classic anthems that had crowds gripped.

It was a sure-fire bet that after 1978, Queen would finish their concerts with either 'We Will Rock You' or 'We Are The Champions'.

Prior to then, the four-piece would consistently call time on their shows by covering a rock 'n' roll classic.

Queen would play Elvis Presley's timeless 1957 number 'Jailhouse Rock' for the encore of their concerts, as Freddie called the King of Rock 'n' Roll one of his foremost influences.

Now, in the latest episode of YouTube series, Queen: The Greatest Live, they've unearthed rare footage of them performing the song from a gig in 1975.

Queen The Greatest Live: Jailhouse Rock (Episode 42)

The cleaned-up, recovered footage shows Queen giving it some serious welly, performing 'Jailhouse Rock' during a concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon on Christmas Eve in 1975.

Freddie was a lifelong fan of Elvis Presley, having first heard his music whilst attending boarding school in Bombay during the 1950s.

Recalling in Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words (Mercury Songs Ltd), the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' composer admitted it was Elvis who encouraged him to pursue music in the first place.

"When I was little I was in the choir and I just liked to sing. I would copy Elvis Presley songs, then I suddenly realised that I could actually write songs and make my own music – call it a natural gift, or whatever."

So it was fitting that his future band would rile up the crowd for the final hurrah at their shows with the raucous 'Jailhouse Rock'.

Roger Taylor recently reflected on their encores, admitting: "On Jailhouse Rock, we could go a bit mad…", and the proof is in the pudding here, with Freddie stripped down to his pyjamas by the looks of it.

"I would copy Elvis Presley songs," Freddie said when he was young. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)
"I would copy Elvis Presley songs," Freddie said when he was young. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns). Picture: Getty

In 2021, Brian May said: "I think it's impossible to have been a kid at that time and not been influenced by Elvis."

"Freddie in particular though, of course. He was one of Freddie's great heroes. For me, his guitarists were a great inspiration. Scotty Moore was one, James Burton the other. So, yeah, Elvis was definitely an influence."

There was a clear influence from Elvis Presley in Queen's magnetic stage presence, but it filtered into their music too.

In 1979, Freddie wrote 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', which was a direct tribute to Presley in the wake of his tragic death two years earlier.

"It's Freddie's tribute to Elvis in a way," Brian confirmed recently. "Freddie was very fond of Elvis."

Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Official Video)

Around the time 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' came out, Freddie said he even styled his vocal performance on Elvis.

"My voice does sound a bit like Elvis Presley's on 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'. That wasn't something I was trying to do, naturally, it was pure coincidence."

It's all sung rather low, so then you soon come close to Elvis, especially with such a 50s-type song."

I don't mind telling you that my girlfriend thought it was a cover song, but that is absolutely not true. I wrote it… while taking a bath," he casually admitted, saying he wrote the US number one hit within ten minutes.