I would not suggest Freddie Mercury was ever subdued on stage, but by the time I saw Queen perform in early 1977, rock ‘n’ roll’s over-the-top ship had circumnavigated the globe a few times.
So Freddie’s leotards, while perhaps unsettling to everyone in the audience — men, women and teenage boys and girls, for reasons individual and varied — weren’t that over-the-top.
I was reminded of this while listening to this week’s episode of Let It Roll and recalling my single Queen concert (February 1977), a recollection that led me to another contemplation, of the first four rock concerts I ever attended.
With all that in mind, I present to you “The Freebird Yeller’s Top 5 List of ‘70s Rock ‘n’ Roll Performers or Bands More Over-the-Top Than Queen, 1974-‘75.”
Here they are, Google them if you don’t believe me, and please keep your comments brief:
1. Elton John 11/74: Cape and giant hat shaped like an upside-down lampshade stolen from Liberace’s living room; multi-colored mohair outfit first encore.
2. Kiss 11/74: Gene spews his blood and breathes his fire.
3. Black Oak Arkansas 11/74: James “Dandy“ Mangrum in his white tights, Freddie’s only close competition for the leotard look (quadruple bill with Kiss and two others).
4. Jethro Tull 1/75: Have Codpiece Will Rock.
5. Alice Cooper 4/75, chased by a spider, his and his ex-band’s nightmare
Honorable Mention — Gregg Allman and Cher 5/75, performing a duet in matching costumes, on Cher’s television variety show.
Special Award for Showing All These Amateurs How It’s Done — Mick Jagger, on tour with the Stones 7/75, riding atop a giant inflatable condom that sprung from a trap door in a stage shaped as a lotus flower.
Good night and please drive safely.
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.