Freddie Mercury's scathing response to the UK punk movement revealed: "Load of rubbish!"
20 October 2023, 15:10
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Queen's music couldn't have been further from the punk movement.
In fact, the youth-propelled backlash of punk music and its iconography was very much seen as an antidote to bands like Queen.
But Queen and their arsenal of songs that merged rock, opera, and unbridled theatricality was starting to be seen as snooty and elitist by segments of the youth population.
Nowadays, the likes of 1975 number one hit 'Bohemian Rhapsody' for instance - in all its ambitious and pompous glory - is considered one of the all-time greatest songs to ever come from a British artist, and rightly so.
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As the decade unfolded, kids were in search of new meaning amidst the backdrop of political and economic turmoil, and punk music was the answer.
No longer were musicians beholden to actually having to learn an instrument, they could just thrash out three chords on a guitar and vent down a microphone.
What came of it was a cultural explosion that shook the foundations of music, art, politics, and society at large.
However, Freddie Mercury wasn't too enamoured by the punk movement, saying their ideals were a "load of rubbish".
In the most recent episode of Queen's long-running YouTube series, Queen The Greatest Live, an unearthed video interview sees Freddie reflect on his own performance, and how it differed from the punk scene.
Throughout the interview, the iconic frontman dissects his desire to entertain, and how seriously he took his profession.
Asked about his interaction with the crowds that come to see Queen, Freddie replied: "I have to win them over or it's not a successful gig."
"It's my job to make sure I win them over and make them feel they've had a good time. That’s part of my role, part of the duty that I have to do."
"This cliché of saying, ‘Oh, you have them eating from the palm of your hand’ – I just feel that the quicker I do that, the better, because then I feel I can manipulate them or whatever."
"But it's all to do with me feeling in control as so that I know that it’s all going well."
Queen The Greatest Live: Freddie Mercury - Part 2 (Episode 35)
When Queen became a certified stadium rock band, Freddie said it took his and his Queen bandmate's performances up to another level.
"I’m very frivolous, and I like to enjoy myself. And what better way than on stage in front of 300,000 people?"
"I don't like to go on stage sitting on a stool. I'm very volatile and I like to actually put a song across," he admitted. "It's all part of showbiz and theatre, and that's another side of me."
Performing to thousands upon thousands of adoring fans every night was where Freddie considered his best work to come from.
On the other hand, he couldn't quite understand why punk bands insisted on keeping their audiences niche, harnessing the power of community in smaller venues
Freddie revealed: "I think everybody wants to be successful. I don't care what they say. I know there was a fashion with the punk movement or whatever."
"They said, ‘Oh, we want to play to the small audiences because we're being intimate' and all that. Load of rubbish!" he spat incredulously.
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"Everybody wants to play to the biggest audiences. I want to play to as many people as I can and the more the merrier. My music is not channelled into any category. I want everybody to listen to it."
"Music is for everybody, it’s an international language. Music is limitless, you know," he continued.
"And that's the way it is. So as far as I'm concerned, I like the whole world to listen to my music. And I want anybody and everybody to come and listen to me and look at me when I'm playing."
It's no secret that Freddie wasn't an overt supporter of punk music and its associated members, likely because he and Queen were very much the target of their vitriol.
There's the infamous scenario where he got one over on his punk detractors, namely the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious when both bands occupied the same studio during a recording session.
After a smirking Vicious snapped at Mercury saying: "Have you succeeded in bringing ballet to the masses yet?", Freddie reportedly called him 'Stanley Ferocious' and dragged him out of the studio by his collar like a naughty school boy.