26 01 24
Gallery Queen performed @ Hammersmith Odeon, London “Crazy Tour”
26 01 24
Gallery college days with Freddie Mercury”

28th December 2018 – The Following Article Was Published: Harrogate man: “My college days with Freddie Mercury” – By The Newsroom 📰

FIFTY YEARS AFTER HE WENT TO ART COLLEGE WITH ROCK STAR FREDDIE MERCURY, A HARROGATE MAN IS LOOKING BACK AT THOSE HEADY TIMES – AND HOW HARROGATE WAS THEN.

Paul Humberstone, 70, still puts his talents to artistic use in Harrogate; he is one of only a handful of traditional signwriters nationwide who still use the old techniques of hand painting signs and gold leaf on commissions from the likes of the Old Bell Tavern, Daleside Brewery and Welcome to Ripon.

But he started to learn his trade at Ealing Art College in 1968 where one of his best friends was Freddie Bulsara – or Freddie Mercury as he was to be known after forming the rock band Queen in 1970.

By sheer accident, Paul’s flat when he was a student all those years ago became the centre for Freddie’s earliest dabblings in the rock and pop world.

Paul, who lives in Harrogate but has his traditional signwriting and creative artwork workshop in Sharow near Ripon, said he and Freddie quickly became good friends even though the future international superstar struggled with the Harrogate youngster’s accent.

The talented father of four and grandfather to three said: “Me and some friends from Harrogate Art College, as it was then on Victoria Avenue, had to pick another college for the fourth year of out studies, so we decided to go to Ealing. As we were walking around the college, which seemed massive, we passed an open door which turned out to be full of young women. We saw a bloke with black hair, the only lad in the whole classroom and we thought ‘lucky boy’. A week later the same lad walked into the graphics room and said he was bored and had managed to change courses. It was the first time we met Fred.”

At that point Freddie wasn’t the fully-formed flamboyant character who inspired the recent movie Bohemian Rhapsody by X-Men director Bryan Singer. There were a few clues, however, Paul said.

“He was a private person and quiet until the subject of music came up, then he changed… often saying, ‘I’m going to be a legend darling!’ We never believed it. He was such a nice character always singing, but not loud. He adored Jimi Hendrix and played air guitar on the rulers at college.

I would say on a personal level Fred and I got on well, though he probably couldn’t understand my northern accent. But he did try and we always had a laugh with him. I remember a little touching moment when we were sharing a joke together and he looked at me and just said very quietly ‘oh Harold you are a one.’ It was a bit like comedian Dick Emery but with pathos.

We all thought Fred was a bit effeminate; he spoke with heavy lisp. But he had girlfriends at the time. We never knew about his really private life or were even that bothered about it.”

As for the recent movie about Queen’s early years starring Rami Malek as Freddie, Paul has seen it and enjoyed it with a few reservations. He said: “I thought it was a good film. The actor playing Brian May was excellent. But Roger Taylor was far too beefy and the actor playing Queen’s first bassist Tim Staffell was nothing like him. The worst bit in the movie was when they showed Fred drinking a pint… He was always a ‘spirits only please darling’ man.”

These were exciting times for Paul, living in London in the late 1960s in a flat in Addison Gardens, London W14 with fellow student Chris Smith. It soon became the place where Freddie would hang out, just around the corner from another flat which was occupied by, among others, future Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

But Paul always felt the pull of the north and came back to Harrogate, even producing an atmospheric book of photographs at the time called ‘Sulphur, Sunshine & Lace: Impressions of Harrogate’.

Then, as now, the town’s gems which Paul shot in grainy, artistic black and white, were the expected – Valley Gardens, the Royal Hall, the Hales Bar and Farrah’s Toffee Shop.

“I was back up in Harrogate at Easter time in 1968 where my family lived in Franklin Road and I’d brought my college 35mm camera. It was a warm sunny day and I wandered around, just messing about really. Back then nobody in Ealing went to Yorkshire. When they saw my photographs, my college friends were amazed that in the soot-covered grimy landscape covered in smoking chimneys up north there could be such a beautiful place as my town of Harrogate. I think my book caught some of Harrogate’s charm.”

Paul and Freddie pictured below and the third picture, The two are with The Wreckage

26 01 24
Queen crowned the most loved UK band of all time by ‘The Guardian’

5 July 2005 – Queen crowned the most loved UK band of all time by ‘The Guardian’

Twenty years after they stole the show at the original Live Aid concert, and 14 years after the death of Freddie Mercury, Queen have been crowned the most popular UK band of all time.

The group have overtaken the Beatles and Elvis Presley as the artists who have spent the longest time on the British album charts.

According to the compilers of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and Albums, Queen have spent 1,322 weeks on the chart, compared with the Beatles’ 1,293 weeks.

Roger Taylor said, “I’m staggered by the news. We were always incredibly ambitious. But we never expected to see a list that read Queen, then the Beatles, then Elvis.”

The band’s first number one album, ‘A Night at the Opera,’ came out in 1975. But James Bradley, the assistant editor of the Guinness book, said Queen’s achievement had taken a comparatively short time: Elvis Presley first charted in 1956 and the Beatles first made the chart in 1963.

Queen’s two greatest hits albums, the first of which spent 450 weeks in the charts and sold more than 4m copies, have accounted for much of their success. Endorsements from newcomers such as the Darkness have contributed to steady album sales, and the West End show We Will Rock You has also kept the band in the public eye.

Here’s the UK top 10:

1 Queen (1,322 weeks)
2 The Beatles (1,293)
3 Elvis Presley (1,280)
4 U2 (1,150)
5 Dire Straits (1,136)
6 Simon and Garfunkel (1,114)
7 Madonna (1,032)
8 David Bowie (1,005)
9 Elton John (989)
10 Michael Jackson (966)

Source: The Guardian, 5th of July 2005

22 01 24
I don’t think we even realized that Freddie is a bit of a genius

I don’t think we even realized that Freddie is a bit of a genius, really; a pretty eccentric kind of genius. And you wouldn’t have thought it if you met him in the street or in Kensington market around 1970. You’d just thought, ‘A strange guy… obviously thinks he’s a rock star.’ But he had an incredible belief in himself, incredible drive, and he stood for no-nonsense. 

Nothing would ever get in his way of achieving what he wanted to achieve. So I take that as an example even now because we’re all people-pleasers, aren’t we? We think, ‘Oh, I like to do this but I don’t want to do that because that might upset this person.’ 

Freddie was never like that. He said, ‘I want to do this, I’m going to do this. If you don’t want me to do it, get out of my way.’ And some people might have found him rude, but generally Freddie achieved what he did because he was so focused and had so much belief. Pretty fantastic voice as well. A gift from God, obviously.” (Brian May BBC Radio 2021)

‘Freddie is the quintessential lead singer in rock & roll. The fire and glue that holds Queen together.’ (Circus 1980) 

“Freddie is simply a genius, the band owes him everything!” (Bravo 1979)

Brian May 💛

All three fabulous quotes are by Brian and the years are noted 

This gorgeous photo of Freddie has been making the rounds all over Facebook – Thanks to Freddie3000luv

22 01 24
‘It’s A Hard life’ with B-side, ‘Is This The World We Created?’ in the USA 
🇺🇸

 by Capitol records 

 But I’ll always live for tomorrow
I’ll look back at myself and say I did it for love 
Yes I did it for love 🎶💕

6 July 1984, Queen release ‘It’s A Hard life’ with B-side, ‘Is This The World We Created?’ in the USA 🇺🇸 by Capitol records 

“To my mind this is one of the most beautiful songs that Freddie ever wrote. It’s straight from the heart, and he really opened up during the creation of it, I sat with him for hours and hours and hours just trying pull it away and get the most out of it. It’s one of his loveliest songs.”

Brian May 2003

Freddie on the set of ’Its A Hard Life’

21 01 24
Video Freddie Mercury Interviews
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