As I’m packing up to leave for LA for Almost Queen’s appearance on “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands”, the April air reminds me of when I was a kid, and a huge fan of the New York Mets. Though I don’t follow sports these days, I’m reminded Baseball is in the air in April. I recall the first Major League Baseball games I attended at Shea Stadium in the early 80’s. For me, that’s the hayday of MLB. After the Mets won the World Series in 1986, and I got my first guitar, my interest in sports waned. But during that time, I could not get enough. I was so into the Mets, I would even bring a radio to bed, falling asleep to the the sound of Bob Murphy calling the games. My family and I would make a yearly road trip to Philadelphia to catch a three game series, and stay at the same hotel where the Mets stayed, having many opportunities to meet my heroes of the time; Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, George Foster, to name a few.
I remember the sounds of the crowd at Shea Stadium, the calls of “Beer Here!” and “Hot Dogs!”, but there was one sound that I will never forget, though I was unsure of where it came from at the time. As the Mets started loading the bases, there would be a distinctive sound that would add to the excitement of the moment. The loud and compelling sound of “STOMP STOMP CLAP! STOMP STOMP CLAP!” I actually though it was the people in the stands, maybe in the bleachers, making that sound happen. No singing, just the “STOMP STOMP CLAP!” It was so cool! I knew I liked it, and it was associated with the Mets being in a position to score some runs, but I didn’t know where it was coming from. I would join in, stomping and clapping. It wasn’t until some time later that I heard “We Will Rock You” and realized that sound I loved was Queen. This was one of my earliest introductions to Queen. The other being hearing “Another One Bites the Dust” playing in my cousin’s room in 1980, and my parents indicating it wasn’t appropriate for my 5 year old ears. Ha! They were never successful in keeping me away from the hard rockin’ music I love. Regardless of their attempts, they would always be there to support me in my love of music.
Another early connection I had with Queen came in 1981. Though I was a Mets fan, as the LA Dodgers went to the World Series, I was pulling for them. What can I say, I was raised to not root for the Yankees. The Dodgers won the World Series that year, and in celebration, some members of the team recorded a really awful version of “We Are The Champions”, which I had on 45. I loved it. At the time, I just loved the World Champion LA Dodgers. I didn’t even know it was a Queen song!
So, here I am getting ready to go to LA, reminded that some of my earliest connections to Queen were made though baseball, and the LA Dodgers. I’m excited to visit LA for the first time, and really psyched to get to play “We Are The Champions” in the city who’s baseball team introduced me to the song. I just hope we perform it better than they did! I think we’ve got it covered.