Almost Queen Will Rock Norwalk!

by John A. Wilcox

I was all of 15. My world was truly upside down. 15 will do that to you. I heard this song. It went quickly from being nowhere to being everywhere. It was called Bohemian Rhapsody by a band from England called Queen. They made an outrageous video that we all watched on American Bandstand. It was Huge! No one could resist it. Even my mom loved it.

I tracked down an 8-track of their self titled debut. Night At The Opera, Sheer Heart Attack (My fave to this day), and Queen II all followed in short order as teen finances permitted. Glam prog rock pop opera - mash-ups before the term was applied. Queen were all of that and more. They completed the puzzle.

I got in touch with Almost Queen bassist Randy Gregg and asked him a few questions about performing the music of Queen:

What was the very 1st Queen song you ever heard & what did you think of it?

I was about 6 years old. A neighbor of mine would always play records for me and one time in particular, he played Tie Your Mother Down. I remember seeing the look on his face and the question that followed was "so, you like this??" With a hefty nod and a big smile on my face he said "ok, check this out" and played Bohemian Rhapsody. Drop-jawed, I believe the only words to come out of my mouth were "I want to do that!" A quasi career later and 15 years into Almost Queen, be careful what you wish for! Lol. I'm kidding, I wouldn't have changed that moment for a million dollars.

How did Almost Queen first come together?

It was really our love for QUEEN. We all wanted to play our favourite songs by our favourite artist. We didn't really take it as a job and still don't. We get off stage, pack up, get in the car and throw in a QUEEN CD! But getting the band together meant finding someone to play Freddie, that was key. Joe was introduced to our drummer John and original guitar player Tom by a mutual friend. I was then asked by the original manager to try out and within 6 months we were rehearsed and anxious to get out there. 15 years later and we're still rehearsing! Lol. Although we have come to be quite familiar and comfortable, it's never easy, it's a love affair that started when we were 6 years old. Lol

What was the most challenging Queen song to learn to play?

There are so many to choose from really, most QUEEN songs are not easy to play as a full band (Somebody To Love, We Are The Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody, Flash, etc.) but for me personally it was You're My Best Friend. Early on in Almost Queen I was transitioning from singing high harmonies to low harmonies. Most musicians know what that means straight away. In most cases, high harmonies follow a main melody line and are easier to hear or pick out of a group of vocals where low harmonies tend to break off in a much more difficult pattern. So this time was a complete rebuild for me and I had to reconstruct not only the way I sang but how I actually heard the vocals. You're My Best Friend was so difficult that I would "forget" to put in some set lists. Lol. But it's all about practice, as it always is, repetition and being comfortable which builds confidence.... nowadays, we soundcheck it at every show. Lol

Does the show also include some of the visual elements the band used to use?

The band has certain set pieces for the stage show. A baby Grand Piano, a 40" gong, a lighted staircase, Brian May's 'Red Special', all the elements used by QUEEN during their performances as well as the costumes, which is a very big part of the show as we are trying to portray 4 unique individuals. Joe has his work cut out for him as he usually carries up to 4 different outfits per show while maintaining a real mustache for 15 years. But we all have our roles to fill and certain personas to recapture. We are extremely realistic with the fact that there is and will only be one QUEEN. Our crowds are made up of some people who have actually seen QUEEN live and others who have not, we are just trying to reproduce that for some and recreate it for others.

Why do you think this music has survived so many decades?

That's probably the easiest question. Lol. A good song is a good song, great songs are great songs, great albums are great albums and great careers stand the test of time! Bands these days come and go and I believe the key to QUEEN was that you had four members, all of which charted top-ten singles. Every album had four members adding their flavour and spice to each song they brought to the table and don't forget, you have Freddie Mercury as the pilot! I believe that over the decades you have people discovering and rediscovering all the classic rock bands. Now, throw a multi-award winning biopic into the cinemas and you get a whole new generation of fans... because a good song is a good song!

Tie Your Mother Down, Bicycle Race, Radio GaGa - it just never stopped. Brave, melodic, in-your-face. Frilly flapper ditties. Stadium Rock. Anthems for everyone. Outrageous and courageous. Most of all Queen=fun. No one frowns from listening to Queen. Sure, we all feel bad that we lost Freddie Mercury so young, but his joy, his bravado remain. Get your ass to see Almost Queen recreate and celebrate that joy! Tickets are cheap and smiles are free!!

Almost Queen
Friday, February 15, 8 PM
The Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT 06850

Band Links:
Official Website


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