The truth about Queen’s infamous album release party
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In the decades since his passing, Freddy Mercury has gone from a monolith of musical excellence to a pop culture cryptid whose reported activities read like entries in an ecstasy addict’s most closely guarded Lisa Frank notebook. He’s been described as one of the only people who could keep up with Elton John – by Elton John, and Elton John regularly kicked it with the Muppets.
There’s no way to introduce this properly, so we’d might as well dive in.
On Halloween night, 1978, Mercury held a no-holds-barred album release party for Queen’s new LP, Jazz. Since then, the night has become an urban legend in its own right. Facts and rumors blur together. Any fraction of truth regarding the events of that night in New Orleans is now, more than forty years later, almost impossible to ascertain.
By way of example, the shindig was called “Saturday Night in Sodom,” and it took place on a Tuesday.
Up all night singing and giving a chase
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Accounts of the Jazz release party are many and varied, but one factor remains constant: they all read easier if you imagine Stefan from Weekend Update reading them.
Uncut reports that there was a guest list of 500, and that publicist Bob Gibson was instructed to wrangle in anyone on the street that seemed like they would bring some “local flavor.” The ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel, decked out with dozens of dead trees, was packed to bursting with entertainers: contortionists, fire-eaters, naked waitstaff, naked dancers, naked men and women wrestling in pits filled with uncooked liver, and a naked overweight Samoan woman smoking cigarettes with her swimsuit area. A back room was set up for grown ups to have mommy-daddy time, with Mercury reportedly stating “Most hotels offer their guests room service… This one offers them lip service.”
And then there were the little people. An element of the bacchanalia still debated to this day, it’s been claimed and refuted that Mercury hired a small contingent of hermaphroditic dwarves to wander around the event with bowls of cocaine on their heads. Roger Taylor said it never happened. Queen’s manager begged to differ, per Queenlive.
Anyway, just something to think about for Brenda from accounting’s birthday next week.