A band called Queen and music that shook England

September 14, 2022

Here’s a story that recalls the “seismic” changes that happened in England at a time when a musical revolution shook up British society.

One day, in 1977, the band Queen was in Wessex Studios in London to work on a new album, when the Sex Pistols happened to be booked to record in the same place.

Queen was said to be doing its sixth album, News of the World, which would yield “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” — further solidifying the band’s success after the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1975.

‘God Save the Queen’ single art sleeve.

The Pistols, meanwhile, had just released “Anarchy in the UK” in 1976, dropping the bomb that was punk rock, and causing major bands like Queen itself to take notice.

The next scene, as Queen’s then roadie Peter Hince recounted, had the Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious gloating at Queen front man Freddie Mercury:

“Sid Vicious stumbled in, the worse for wear, and addressed Fred, ‘Have you succeeded in bringing ballet to the masses yet?’ Fred casually got up, walked over to him and quipped: ‘Aren’t you Stanley Ferocious or something?’ and took him by the collar and threw him out.”

Photographs courtesy of facebook/queen and facebook/sex pistols
Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

Whoa, Freddie Mercury standing up to Sid Vicious!

The context is, Mercury was gay, and Vicious was a scruffy junkie. Both are dead, but in their heyday, their lives intertwined beyond the studio incident.

Mercury was credited for having thought of his band’s name. He recalled in a past interview: “It’s very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It’s a strong name, very universal and immediate. I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.”

Queen the band was everything its name implied: At its peak, its lead singer ruled the stage with drama and bombast, a musical monarch whose performance at Live Aid in 1985 had the crowd of 70,000 in Wembley Stadium under his thumb.

The Sex Pistols in 1977: Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones

Vicious’ band, on the other hand, drew worldwide attention with the release of its second single, “God Save the Queen” — whose controversial lyrics (“God save the queen/The fascist regime… She’s not a human being/And there’s no future/And England’s dreaming…”) led to the songs getting banned by the UK’s national radio and TV agencies.

The Sex Pistols, along with The Clash, led the punk revolution that reawakened the rebellious spirit in contemporary music.

Queen in the 70s (from top) John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor.

Its power and influence would reach the Philippines, where young, aspiring musicians would likewise form their own bands, such as Betrayed, Dead Ends, Urban Bandits (“No Future sa Pader” echoes the nihilism in “God Save the Queen,” which was originally called “No Future”).

As early as 1979, in fact, Chickoy Pura, Nitoy Adriano, Boy Matriano, Flor Mendoza, and Jun Lopito would form The Jerks after hearing cassette tapes their friends sent from abroad.

All this reminiscing — the band Queen, the song “God Save the Queen,” punk rock — leads us to the UK which is in transition with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

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