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Credit: Freddie Mercury


How Queen and Freddie Mercury threw the wildest album release party of all time


It is an oddity in the rock ‘n’ roll annuls that Queen, the band who are now viewed as one of the most savoury household musical names since Bread thanks to the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic and Dr Brian May’s tireless badger caressing, actually had an album launch party that would cause Caligula to blush. After all, a celebration does not merely earn the title Saturday Night in Sodom for nothing.

For the launch party of Jazz, Freddie Mercury descended into decadent oblivion with an event that belongs in the realm of fiction, not fact. The night was one of the wildest that the world has ever seen. To give you a flavour, at one point in the evening the line ‘Oh Freddie Mercury is sniffing cocaine off of a hermaphrodite dwarf’s head again’ was auspiciously uttered. In short, excesses are an archetype of rock ‘n’ roll, and often they have been purposefully indulged in by stars in the same opulent way of kings of old — the tale of Queen’s infamous album launch party really is the quintessence of that. 

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With a coterie of socialites, celebrities and journalists in attendance, guests were greeted at New Orleans Fairmont Hotel not with a handshake or a friendly nod of the head but with a blowjob or cunnilingus sex from the gender of their choosing (which I suppose you could argue is actually the friendliest head nod of them all). “Most hotels offer guests room service,” Freddie Mercury famously quipped to UNCUT journalist Jon Wilde, “This one offers them lip service.”

With a greeting like that, you could hardly just sit down with a pint of bitter and enjoy Whitesnake’s latest album while savouring the occasional Marlboro and chatting about the football results. Thus, thereafter the heathenry only ventures further into God-defying delirium. Someone, please queue up the soundtrack ‘It’s A Sin’ by Pet Shop Boys. 

Parading around the circus of excesses and oddities were the aforementioned troupe of hermaphrodite dwarves with silver trays strapped to their heads and lines of the highest quality Bolivian marching powder for any chancer to sniff at will. One recurring mind-boggle that routinely strikes me throughout this venture is just how it was even possible to source such a theatre of depraved dreams. For instance, dwarfism is roughly prevalent at a rate of 1 in 40,000 and true hermaphroditism is one of the rarest traits of humanity so finding a collection of hermaphrodite dwarfs willing to partake is, aside from everything else, one of the greatest logistical feats found outside of war efforts. 

As far as entertainment goes, the famed publicist Bob Gibson used his £200,000+ budget to hire a man who specialised, for want of a better word, in biting the heads off of live chickens and turning their beleaguered necks into bloody fountains. If anything, this ghastly but rather simple act seems a bit milquetoast on the face of it. 

Orally beheading chickens not your cup of tea? No problem, there was plenty more on offer. Alongside Zulu tribesmen, fire-eaters and drag queens were naked models writhing in baths of uncooked liver, which no doubt absolutely stunk. There were also magicians in attendance to hold up the rather more wholesome side of things. All while a handful of 300lb+ Samoan women lounged on banquet tables, in the nude, smoking cigarettes… out of various orifices. Pop some transvestite strippers in bamboo cages, and you’ve got yourself a ball. Guests were asked to refresh themselves on vats of Cristal, and if you somehow retained an appetite, lobsters, caviar and oysters were being served up, the perfect feast for a settled stomach.

It was truly opulence on the scale of a supernova, and not to sound like a fuddy-duddy old cynic, but it is worth noting that Live Aid, the first music event to successfully cure poverty, was only a matter of years away. How such an evening has faded into obscurity in the years that have followed can only be attributed to the whole thing stretching way beyond any layman’s understanding of what a Saturday night can be. This great crime against normality as the hedonistic heavens opened just seems too unreal to be true. Even the guests the next day probably woke up wondering whether they had imagined it all. 

Perhaps the weirdest thing of all is that there is no footnote to the tale, it would seem that they simply went up to their rooms and checked out when the weekend was over. Jazz went on to be somewhat of a hit without ever being as remarkable as the party, and everything returned to normal, but hidden behind the moss of year gone-by, in the recesses of Brian May’s huge astrological badger-loving brain, must linger some bewildering images from the mutiny of Saturday Night in Sodom. I wonder what they got up to on Sunday?