Forty years ago when a young London quartet called Queen headlined the venerable Rainbow Theater there, recording the performance on audio and film was a daunting task, both technologically and financially. Live recording was much more art than science then, with no do-overs, no digital tricks, nowhere to hide. Not that this tightly rehearsed band, comprised of singing drummer Roger Taylor, gifted guitarist/singer Brian May, shy bass player/ singer John Deacon, and unforgettable frontman vocalist Freddie Mercury , needed any augmentation: after two studio albums and a trial-by-fire legendary US tour supporting lovable Mott the Hoople, Queen was ready to reign over the Rainbow Theater as headliners for the first time in late March 1974. They were so impressive in concert that when they booked the same venue in November later that same year to premiere their third studio album Sheer Heart Attack , Queen had to add a second night.
Apparently in the mid-1970s you could go into a British cinema to watch a forgettable Burt Reynolds movie and also see the entire Queen concert before the main attraction, yet the audio tapes from none of the three nights at the Rainbow were ever released until now, four decades later. By including the entire March Live at the Rainbow ’74 show on disc one and the November performances on a second disc, you can actually witness Queen’s rapid ascent to the throne of rock royalty.
Yet Roger Taylor reveals here In the Studio that all was not well with the rock royal family.The guys were flat broke without knowing where the money was going. And Brian May confesses that all was not well with his health, either. May contracted hepatitis while on tour in America, requiring hospitalization. But while recording Sheer Heart Attack in London over the Summer of 1974, May collapsed with an even more life-threatening chronic condition that nearly killed him. Find out in this week’s In the Studio interview.- Redbeard