The legendary band is celebrating 50 years in showbusiness by releasing 50 videos, a new one every week, commemorating an iconic moment from their glittering career. The series is nearing its end and the 47th video is simply titled ‘Brian on the roof.” Of course, every Queen fan will immediately know this is referring to the unforgettable guitar solo he performed for the monarch’s Golden Jubilee. It was a stunning moment, but the build-up was even more dramatic.
When Queen Elizabeth celebrated 50 years on the throne in 2002, the Palace immediately planned to have Queen performing God Save The Queen.
The band’s 1975 album A Night At The Opera ended with a guitar-fuelled rendition of the national anthem. The recorded version soon began to be used as the closing music for their concerts – but it was never performed live.
On the new video, Brian describes receiving a call from the Palace, but with a very different vision for what would happen at the Jubilee.
Brian said: “I remember waking up with this thought the next day ‘Where I need to be is not strolling through Buckingham Palace rooms… I need to be on the roof, I need to be the lone piper who has been up there for the last 50 years in the wind and rain, grizzled old campaigner, still playing.
The star admits he was shocked when they immediately said yes to his idea. And then the reality set in: “‘Oh God, I’ve got to do it now.’ The enormity of what I have suggested comes through to me and I think, ‘Oh My God can I really do this thing?’”
Brian then revealed that the actual experience was even harder than he ever imagined.
On the day, he found himself perched 80 feet up, high up on the roof of the iconic building and there were numerous technical problems during the rehearsals.
The musician couldn’t get the feed from the orchestra so he couldn’t hear what they were playing and he couldn’t see the small screen they had set up for him showing the conductor due to glare from the sky.
He recalled: “Nothing worked, except my amps and me. It sounded colossal, huge up there.”
Just hours before showtime, the technicians finally managed to set up huge speakers feeding the sound of the orchestra to Brian on one side and his own amps on the other side. The stage was set for the most iconic moment of the entire night.
He said: “It was an amazing feeling, I must say, The most incredible energising moment. But of course, terrifying. The combination of that was electrifying.
“I remember thinking if this works, if I pull this off, I will never, ever be scared again.”
It was, of course, a triumph, broadcast around the world, with Brian astride the palace parapets and bandmate Roger Taylor on the drums below with the main orchestra and musicians.
God save The Queen – and Queen.