(hennemusic) Queen celebrate their 1978 independence on the latest episode of their weekly video series The Greatest. While last week's episode focused on bassist John Deacon and the hits he provided for Queen, the rocker again features prominently in this week's edition in which the band reveal the dire straits they were in even after three hit albums, and how John's steady hand and acumen brought Queen to one of the most significant points in its career - the moment they finally achieved their goal of financial and creative independence.
"We didn't get a penny of record royalties from the first three albums," says Deacon. "What we were looking at in that point in time was basically to just look after ourselves, and do it completely on our own."
"It's the long road to artistic, financial freedom which is so hard to find if you're successful to any degree 'cos there's a million sharks out there," adds Roger Taylor.
In early 1978, just before they embarked on recording their "Jazz" album, Queen finally took full control of their business affairs - setting up three entities to operate and manage their creative endeavours: Queen Productions Limited, Queen Music Limited, and Queen Films Limited. This was at the time a highly unusual move for a band, but testament to their belief in their forward musical journey.
For the day to day running of the business, Queen turned to Jim Beach, who they had first met in 1975 when the band's quest for financial independence truly began. It was a meeting that left a lasting impression on Jim...
"I first met Queen when I was a solicitor at Harbottle and Lewis in London," Beach recalls. "I was a partner and I was running what was then a very fledgling music department. It was a show-business firm and we were used to fairly bizarre clients, but I remember when Queen arrived the receptionist telephoned me and said 'Mr. Beach, Queen are here', and I said 'Yes, fine, would you like to send them up.' And she whispered down the phone, she said 'have you seen them?'"
"And I said, 'well yes', she said, 'well one of them's got nail varnish on.' And I said 'well really?' 'Yes, black nail varnish.' And I said, 'well fine,' 'yes but it's only on one hand.' And I said, 'don't be silly, come on, send them up.' I always remember Freddie walked in first, they sat down and Freddie kicked straight off by saying 'we've recorded three albums, our manager's just bought his second Rolls Royce and we're on sixty quid a week, so something's wrong.'"
But it wasn't just the business side where Queen wanted to be masters of their own destiny, their "News Of The World" album had proved that in the studio they were also ready to take full control.
"It comes to a stage where all you really need is an engineer, because the idea of balancing and sounds you want, an artist or musician should really know what they want," explains Deacon. "And the only person needed to implement that is an engineer. And when you're doing a mix, when you're mixing down the track from the tapes, I mean it's setting it up and then we actually sit down and work the controls as well."
On that occasion, long-time Queen engineer Mike Stone had become the invaluable assistant that enabled the band to enjoy the creative freedom they craved in the studio.
This independence had been hard fought for, and after seven years together, when most bands might be coming to their natural end, Queen had finally successfully maneuvered themselves into a position where they could go from strength to strength.
Jim Beach continues to manage Queen to this day. Watch the episode here.