I grew up in a musical household. Lots of records and tapes lying about, music constantly played in the car and kitchen. My Mum was a screaming Beatles fan, my Dad favoured folk music in various guises. Both of them enjoyed rock music, Status Quo and the like, but it was an album sleeve with black and white concentric circles that caught my eye. I snaffled it, and took it upstairs to my little portable record player. The first shock, which I guess is the right word as I was only about 9 or 10 at the time, was the picture spread across the gatefold sleeve. I can remember blushing, and feeling a little naughty, but it only served to heighten the expectation as I lowered the needle into the leader track on the LP.
I sat, baited breath, as the needle crackled along the track until a strange sound issued forth. It sounded like a man but not singing anyway I’d previously heard, a strange warbling noise in a strange language. The track was Mustapha, the album was Jazz, the band was Queen.
And that’s how it started. I spent the rest of the day playing that album over and over and over. The next day I pestered my Dad to get him to take me to the library so I could see if they had any other albums by this ‘new’ band. They did, and I returned home having borrowed The Game, and Queen II. I decided to play Queen II first, and was immediately convinced that I had the wrong group. Aside from the bloke singing it was a different sound altogether, heavy and dark, hardly playful, but I checked the album sleeve and it was the same people. The Game was next, and again it sounded different. Bouncy, pop songs, big booming bass on a couple of tracks. I was getting more confused by the minute, except for the fact that I loved every single dark, bouncy track I’d heard.
I now own every Queen album on both vinyl and CD. I own two copies of Greatest Hits I and II, with one of each in a gold boxset (supposedly never to be touched until I caught a nephew playing them – we’ll miss him). I have several singles, most of the videos but no t-shirts. I never saw them live and I still get a tear in my eye when Freddie Mercury, addressing the rumour that the band was to split at a gig recorded at Wembley in 1986, says “We’ll stay together until we fucking well die”. I produced and hosted a tribute show on our local hospital radio when he passed away. I still have most of the “My Greatest Hits” tapes I made up, featuring my favourite album tracks like Sleeping on the Sidewalk, ’39 and Stone Cold Crazy. I joined the fan club.
My name is Gordon McLean, and I am a Queen fan.