On this day in music history: August 24, 1975 - Queen begin recording “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Rockfield Studio 1 near Monmouth, Wales, UK. Written by Freddie Mercury, the band start the process of recording the complicated and intricate song after three weeks of rehearsals. The remaining sessions for the track takes place at four different studios (Roundhouse, SARM (East), Scorpion, and Wessex Studios in London) over the next three weeks that it takes to complete the song. The most complex portion of the track, the multi-layered vocal harmonies sung by Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor, spend anywhere from ten to twelve hours a day, perfecting their parts. Some parts of “Bohemian Rhapsody” feature as many as 180 separate overdubs. Due to the limited number of tracks available on the 24-track master, makes it necessary to bounce the vocal and instrumental tracks up to eight times. In fact, at one point it is necessary to transfer the entire two inch reel to another fresh tape when master begins shedding oxide due to the numerous times the tape is run over the record and playback heads during the tracking and mixing process. When the song is completed, it clocks in at nearly six minutes. When Queen presents the finished track to their UK label EMI Records, they immediately insist that the band edit it down to a more radio friendly length. The band get around this by leaking a tape copy of the song to Capitol Radio DJ Kenny Everett who immediately loves the track, and plays on his show fourteen times in two days. Public reaction is swift and overwhelmingly positive, forcing EMI to release the record as is. Word of the sensation the record has created in England reaches Paul Drew of RKO Radio in the US, who acquires a dub copy of the still unreleased song. This in turn forces Queen’s US label Elektra Records to release the song as a single, in its complete, unedited form. “Bohemian Rhapsody” goes on to top the UK singles chart for 9 weeks in late 1975, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April of 1976. The record is re-released after Freddie Mercury’s death, returning to the top of the UK singles chart for another five weeks, and is featured in the comedy “Wayne’s World” which puts it back on the US Hot 100, peaking at #2 in May of 1992.
On this day in music history: August 24, 1967 - Following a performance by The Who at Atwood Stadium on August 23rd, the band and numerous guests attend a birthday party held for drummer Keith Moon at the Holiday Inn in Flint, MI. The party is put on by the bands record label Decca Records and Premier Drums to celebrate the drummers 21st birthday. The celebration goes on into the early morning hours and degenerates into drunken debauchery and mayhem, with Moon leading the way. Party goers allege that a highly inebriated Moon blows up the toilet in his hotel room with a stick of dynamite, followed by setting off fire extinguishers, then taking the huge birthday cake and starting a massive food fight. The hotel manager call Sheriff’s deputies to have the party shut down. When Moon sees the police, he turns to run away and slips on a piece of cake, breaking one of his two front teeth. Still running from the police, the drummer jumps into the nearest car (allegedly either a Cadillac or Lincoln Continental) and ends up driving the car into the hotel swimming pool. The incident goes down in infamy, becoming a part of Moon’s legend, as well as earning The Who a lifetime ban from the Holiday Inn and a $50,000 bill for damages.