Thursday, 28 April 2011

Classic Song 37 - The Cowsills "Indian Lake"

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

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