A Queen Pilgrimage By The Lake
Referring to The Queen Studio Experience, a permanent exhibition in Montreux, someone wrote on a Queen forum the other day, “Sounds like a great thing – I’d love to visit one day.”
I would like to say this… and as you know, I rarely if ever rave over much. I’ll make an exception for this.
It is indeed a great thing. It’s actually very significant, and perhaps more than some of you might realise – as I don’t know if the press release is widely available or not.
When you arrive at this enigmatic and hugely atmospheric place, and step inside the room where all four Queen band members once wrote, created, recorded together, you are immediately aware that you’re in ‘the place to be’ for any real and true Queen fan.
You are in the actual room where Freddie Mercury recorded his very last vocal performances. The actual spot where he stood is marked on the floor. It’s rather chilling on some levels. It may even move you.
Then, if you wish, you can sit at the mightily impressive control desk and mix the vocals, bass, gtr, piano, drums, etc, on some wonderful songs that Queen recorded there in that room, at that desk, with trusted co-producer David Richards by their side. You can play at being the sound engineer at one of those legendary sessions that gave us Mother Love and A Winter’s Tale. Turn up the bass, turn down the voice. A little more gtr, a little less piano. You decide.
It is a magical experience, and there is no other space in this world like it. It has a unique place in Queen history and, in my opinion, you do actually ‘feel’ it… unless you’re a cold and insensitive soul, of course. Like Freddie wrote, you have to open up your mind and step inside, to take the most away from it.
I went out to the venue a few weeks back and set up 7 or 8 display cabinets. Nice big lovely expensive (and SECURE) glass cases, not tiny boxes. They’re great! There are some fab things to see, some of them for the very first time. Brian’s original handwritten lyrics for ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ for example, which we only found at the house this year! There is, to my mind anyway, truly startling Queen history to look at in your own time, so take your time. I love such things; I could spend all day just looking at the handwritten lyrics. Roger’s Action This Day lyrics are there too, and examples from John and Freddie!!
There is much to see and take in, much to hear, and the control room alone makes the visit worthwhile.
Stop and imagine for a moment; yourself standing on the very same spot that Freddie stood when he sang his very last songs. The room in which he downed that vodka and, as Brian recalled, just “went for it!” And then… you can listen, on brilliant speakers, to the final result of those sessions. The clarity and starkness will shock you!!!! Be prepared for this. There are other surprises in that room too.
My colleague Justin went out after me, to set up the sound system and mix faders, etc, and he has offered ‘something’ there, for you guys to ponder, (which i’ll not disclose now) which is extremely interesting, and a first. Justin was there too during Queen’s final recording sessions together. It’s quite a thought, isn’t it!
There are many subtle things to take in at this QSE. It’s not merely exhibits and clinical text on walls. This exhibition is the first of its kind. It’s largely about ‘feeling’ the place and taking in all that happened there back in 1978/79, during the early and late 80s, and of course in 1991.
It is very special and it’s definitely worth the journey – or pilgrimage, might be a better word.
Seriously (I can be sometimes!!!)… you’ll love this exhibition. You’ll love Montreux if you’ve never been before. You can see the Freddie statue too, and other breathtaking scenes and blissful landscapes. And swans floating by. And if you see me there, you really ought to offer me a beer as a small thank you for this insight.
I know I sound like a publicity man, but that wasn’t the intent. I’m just genuinely excited about this, it’s a great experience, so I thought I’d share a little.
Go see it.
Greg Brooks (Queen Archivist)
For more information go to www.queenstudioexperience.com