Freddie Mercury and Queen were asked to perform by Groucho Marx ‘We froze!’ says Brian May
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Freddie Mercury and Queen enjoyed the comedy movies of the Marx Brothers so much that they named two of their albums after the films A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races. An elderly Groucho Marx himself found out about this and invited the band to his LA home where he spontaneously asked them to perform for him. Brian May recently recounted the story during his Instagram Live album launch for Back to the Light.
Speaking with broadcaster Joe Lindsay in the video below, Brian said: “The great Groucho Marx we met and it was in response to a message to that came from his carer or publicist.”
She said: “We realise you guys have been inspired by Marx Brothers movies and Groucho would like to meet you.”
So Freddie, Brian and Roger Taylor went round to his home in Beverly Hills, while John Deacon had “chickened out” according to the Queen drummer.
On arrival at the beautiful house, they came across his equally beautiful carer who came out to say Groucho would be with them in a moment.
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She then left Freddie, Brian and Roger before returning while pushing Groucho, who was “full of life”, in a wheelchair. The carer then announced: “He would like to perform for you.”
The Queen guitarist recounted: “So he did. He kind of propped himself up on the piano and she played and he sang one of his very quirky fantastic little songs.
“And he told a couple of jokes and then he sat back and said, ‘Okay. Now you guys perform!’
“We kind of froze and thought, ‘Oh no! What are we going to do?’”
So Brian said how they couldn’t perform as they didn’t have a guitar for accompaniment. But Groucho replied: “Ah! We have a guitar! Fetch the guitar!”
And in the end, the Queen legend strummed along with Freddie and Roger singing 39 with all the harmonies.
Brian shared: “He sat listening and he liked it. And we exchanged a few stories and said how much we’d been inspired by his films and he told us a little bit of how they made them.”
But before long the carer said: “He’s getting tired, it’s about that time now so I think we’ll say our goodbyes now.”
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Brian added: “We said our goodbyes and thanks and she wheeled him out and that was it. And we never saw him again.
“It was quite close to the time when he passed away. But what a wonderful experience it was. He was still funny, he still had it; that kind of dryness and stuff.”
Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977 aged 86, just three days after Elvis Presley.
Brian May’s remastered solo album Back to the Light is out now.
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