Let's talk about musical influences.
Not mine, but those of the late Freddie Mercury.
Back in October of '83, I spent a few great weeks
at the old Record Plant recording studios in LA
(before the complex burned down, obviously).
I was hired by Capitol Records to add stacked group
vocals to about a dozen Alfie Zappacosta bedtracks,
which had been cut a couple of months or so
before that by Alf and Ed Thacker at
Metalworks, back in Toronto.
Once I arrived at LAX, I cabbed straight to the
infamous Sunset Marquis, where I'd be staying
until my job was done. Having already been at the
Marquis for a few months, Alfie welcomed me to
his home-away-from-home, as well as beautiful,
downtown LA with a drink from the minibar.
He then decided my hair was far too normal
looking. He totally mussed up, then covered
my hair with hairspray(!!), and sat me in
front of a large mirror. I looked like
a narc... with Sting's 80s hairdo.
So when I first met Freddie, John, Roger and
Brian of Queen, I felt like a small time, provincial,
wannabe-rockstar tourist... withering in the presence
of one of my favourite groups, as they arrived - one by
one - in identical white stretch limos, and were instantly
whisked inside the 'Plant', and down the long hallway to
their studio... which was right next to Alfie's mix room.
As they approached their studio doorway, I had a chance
to say hi and make their acquaintance, just before they all
disappeared for the rest of the day and night, recording
various vocal and instrumental overdubs for their
in-progress and soon-to-be-released
tenth album, The Works.
As it turned out, I spoke with Brian, John and Roger
numerous times after that, either inside the Record Plant
walls or at the restaurant next door. I'd usually see bassist,
John Deacon, in the little commissary, on the phone to his
wife in England (as they'd just had a baby, I believe). I
spoke with Brian May (and his keyboard programmer,
Torontonian, Fred Mandel) about his multi-Vox AC30
guitar rig, which was visible through the open studio
doorway. I never met Mack, their producer, but I did
yack with drummer, Roger Taylor quite often, as he
spent a lot of his downtime, mastering his enviable
pinball skills, and didn't seem to mind being
quizzed by a narc with a bad Sting hairdo.
Unfortunately, I only spoke with Freddie once,
when he greeted me, as I was walking past him
(and his two identical bodyguards), in the long
and winding, old Record Plant hallway.
He said, "Lovely day, isn't it"?
I replied, "Sure is, man".
His twin bodyguards stood their silent ground,
as I totally forgot to ask Freddie the question
that's been plaguing my mind, ever since:
"Were you influenced, vocally, by The Cowsills,
whose dense, multi-part group vocal arrangements
on hits like "Hair", "The Rain, The Park, & Other
Things", not to mention "Indian Lake", sound at
times to me like templates for your stunning,
often one-man group vocals for "Killer
Queen", "Bohemian Rhapsody" and
countless other Queen songs?"
Though it's probably a good thing I didn't
ask him my burning question, I still have this
most likely misguided notion that Freddie
WAS, indeed, inspired by The Cowsills.
I mean, I've yet to be proven wrong.
Here's "Indian Lake", featuring the vocals
of pretty well the entire Cowsills family.
But first, here's me and Bob Rock,
back in October of 2008, at the
CBC Studios in Toronto.
Mozz the Elder