Queen have been one of my favourite groups since my childhood - all huge sport events, every hockey championship have been accompanied by their two classics - We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. I became much more interested in Queen in late 90s or early 00s when I got into the contact with couple of friends who were members of Czech Queen fanclub or huge fans of them. Still - at the beginning of my "fanship" Queen were "dead" band - not active. They released and re-released and (re...)re-re-released their albums, live recordings, videos, sometimes Brian or Roger guested on some shows or albums, but it seemed that I'll never get a chance to hear their music performed by original composers.... Freddie died when I was 5 years old and it was impossible to find a singer or singers who would manage to sing his stuff - Tribute concert in 92 proved that. Also - without him, how could it work? He was one of best singers in history of popular music, he was outstanding performer with unique charisma and also - what a composer! He himself alone composed Bohemian Rhapsody - one of best songs ever heard by human ear!
Fall 2004 - UK Hall Of Fame... That's the day when everything started! Brian May and Roger Taylor performed couple of songs together with legend himself - lead singer of Free and Bad Company - Paul Rodgers. At that time, I knew PR just a bit, one of first clip which I saw was classic All Right Now live performance from Isle Of Wight festival. That young hairy bearded man from 1970 looked completely different than healthy well-looking guy BM & RT performed with , but that unique voice.... instantly recognizable! Paul started to sing We Will Rock You and I got goosebump! At that time, noone know how this cooperation will go on.... but it immediately worked - and it was fantastic performance - all three songs (Rock You, Champions, All Right Now) done that day were amazing performances!
My first feeling was "you finally got the singer you were looking for since Freddie sadly died!"... I hoped that they feel the same and (even from TV) obvious chemistry between them! Rumours about Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour spread very quickly so I wasnt suprised they announced first "Queen" concert tour in 19 years (since 1986 - year when I was born) in just couple of weeks after Hall Of Fame performance. John Deacon remained retired, but at least two of key members playing together with another equal legend, The question was different - will they include gig in our country? Hurrah! They did - one of first concert events in brand new Sazka Arena. I saw Robert Plant there just week before QPR, so I was a little worried about security measures there and about the sound in hall, but everything was fine. Sadly, Paul was sick couple of shows before our show, so we got shortened setlist, but still - it was amazing experience, sold-out, great gig.
At that time I was member of CZ Queen fanclub too, and among the fanbase I heard a lot of stories about fans welcoming the band at the airport or about fans getting autographs from band at the hotel and I thought - I dont care about that, they are bigger fans than me and I dont want to spend hours and hours of waiting without any result. I had no experience with this at that time. But at the same time as I pretended to be completely NOT insterested, I became slightly envious (what an awful emotion!) and also aftershow depression came after the show. Tour ended, years went on.
Cosmos Rocks! One of most polarizing albums I have ever heard. I know about fans who completely hate this record and see this as absolute worthless stuff damaging the Queen reputation, but I was (and still am) at other side of barricade - maybe because I have never seen this record as another Queen album, but I have seen this as debut album of new supergroup who payed tribute to their own heroes (because some moments are obvious tributes to other heroes of rock history). I loved the album, because I didnt compare it with Made In Heaven, Innuendo, Miracle or any other Queen record because it wasnt Queen record! This was NEW band for me and even Brian May described this band as completely new one - with strong roots in Queen, Bad Co and Free.... Sadly, critics were uncompromising and very cruel and also the chart results were bad. But still - tour was already planned and I got a ticket for our second show.
I have heard about welcoming event at the band arrival to our country, but to be honest... instead of making band happy, they got a bit anger, because someone got a bad idea to invite TV crew who immediately bothered band with silly questions. So, no shame I wasnt there. Then one of my friends wrote me message "we think that we know about the hotel where they are.... would you like to go there with us?".... It wasnt necessary to persuade me anymore! At the day of the show I went to their hotel where group of fanclub fans were already waiting. Couple of funny situations happened because some journalists from tabloids were there but they had completely ZERO idea about band members.... we met Danny Miranda (bassplayer on all QPR tours) few times and later we noticed pictures of him in press with describing him as "new Queen singer Paul Rodgers" and when we finally met Roger Taylor, they asked us who he was! One of us even suggested that we should tell them that one of guys was Freddie Mercury - they would definately publish it too.... Concert was great again, but to be honest - Prague was one of last European QPR gigs and some rumours about disputes among band members leaked during previous gigs and it was pretty much obvious that amazing "happy" feeling from 2005 tour is gone. Paul and Brian almost ignored each other and it was obvious that issues were between them.
I met and got autographs from Danny and Roger at the hotel, but I still missed Brian's and Paul's. It wasnt difficult to make decision - let's go at the airport and try to obtain these ones. We arrived at about 10am.... they were supposed to fly to Vienna at 2pm - long waiting. 2pm gone and nothing is happening.... Then at about 2:20pm first car arrives - Brian May! I'm trying to prepare my camera and stuff for signing but he says something like "sorry guys we are way too late, I dont have time for that...." and rushes away... Then Roger arrives, in good mood, everything seems fine - I'm taking couple of pictures, asking him to sign Return Of The Champions record and then - I'm taking a couple of pictures of him with some fans - at the moment when I'm trying to ask others to take picture of me with him, he is pushed away by his security guard with words "we are late, we have to go!".... Another mistake done but also another lesson learned! Never take pictures of star with other fans before you have your own! Finally Paul with rest of band arrives and he got some badly writing marker..... he rushes with his autographs, couple of pictures taken and he has to go.... We look at the plane leaving the airport and flying to Vienna. Driver of Roger's car finally tell us one funny story. Roger is the one who ALWAYS causes delays - he doesnt care about time, 30 minutes late or early - it doesnt matter. And sometimes - Brian (Mr. Perfectionist) is anger about that.
2008 Tour ended in South America and then.... sad (but not suprising) news come in - QPR announced break-up. What a nice experience, what a great shows and what a great album. I thought to myself that I'll never get Brian's signature and two Roger's and one PR's autographs are going to be end of my Queen story.
Then - they have started to cooperate with Adam Lambert. To be honest, I'm not fan of him and I dont even like their cooperation - it simply doesnt sound well for me. I decided not to go to the Czech show. But - not being a fan of current cooperation is completely irrelevant to admiration of previous career and performances, so I decided to try it again - and this time I had special motivation. My best buddy is drummer in one of Queen Tribute bands and he admires Roger Taylor a lot. I hoped to get 2 Roger's signatures and give one of them to my buddy as birthday present. My wish was to meet them twice - once to get my A Night At The Opera signed by both and second time to get autograph for my friend.
We managed to get news about their arrival. There were about 15 people waiting for them. They arrived shortly after midnight - right after their previous show. One of managers came to us, explained that they are all very tired and that there won't be any signing, they need to get to the hotel. Luckilly - we were able to explain him that we waited there for pretty long time, it's after midnight and that we are going to be fully satisfied with one signature per person. He finally agreed with this. Brian and Roger came to us and signed various stuff (albums, photos, tourbooks, tickets). Roger was obviously very exhausted and signed in very rushed way - his signatures from previous tour were much more nice and precise, but still - much better than nothing. Fine - my first goal was achieved - I got my Opera booklet from 25th Anniversary edition signed by both! Now? Let's try everything to obtain a present for my friend, everything else is just bonus and not important. I wanted to give him RT's latest solo album signed and I said to myself that getting Queen stuff signed just by one would be "annoying" so I decided to take limited edition of Sunflower Jam release (where Brian plays with Kerry, Bruce Dickinson, Ian Paice, John Paul Jones and many others) with Fun On Earth - just for sure - what if scenario...
I went to their hotel before their departure for the show - but because someone published the information about hotel on public website, there were dozens of people (I think more than 40). Simply way too many people. Brian left from underground garrages, Roger went to us, but security kept us on other side of street, so we just could wave to him..... Nothing else. Ok. One last final chance, airport! *
I got a news from my friend about "supposed" time of their flight and I decided that I have a lot of other things to do, that I'll go pretty much "tight" to the time of their flight. I simply said that it's going to be enough to get there about 30 - 40 minutes before their scheduled time. How wrong I was! I was seating in the bus, just couple of stations before Airport when I saw first of those VIP vans driving fast directly to the airport! It's going to be fast run! I got off the bus and run as fast as I could to the terminal! I saw very tall man with grey curly hair! One last run! I "added" myself to the row of people waiting for the signature.... let's try to be inconspicuous - as much as I can! This time - there is much more people than before. Brian is almost next to me when I prepare stuff to get signed from him (I dont even have a time to find better marker than blue one which is bad for such a dark cover!), he signs for me... wow I managed to catch them! Then I said to my friend who was there "wow I made it, when is Roger coming?" - and his reply was cruel... "he left about five minutes ago....". So - I planned to get 2 Roger's signatures and 1 Brian's.... and I got 2 Brian's signatures and 1 Roger's. I have to find another good present for my friend....
* in fact - as I found out later, Roger signed couple of autographs at their hotel after their show, but I wasnt there.... my huge mistake!