I Met Brian on Freddie's Birthday!





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I happened to check my email this morning before work, something I rarely do, and fortunately caught Charlene's QMS email. I live in LA and know the Rock Walk is at the Guitar Center in Hollywood. Figuring that any Def Leppard induction couldn't possibly occur the day after Labor Day (an American Holiday over here), I didn't telephone the Guitar Center until Noon. Thank God I hadn't delayed that call much longer!

To my surprise, the clerk answered and said Def Leppard would be appearing in 2 hours with special guests... Charlene's email tip was all I needed to know who one of those guests might actually be :-). I immediately took the rest of the day off, drove home, put on my "Another World" T-shirt, grabbed my camera, film, a few CDs, a roll of Tums (for my nervous stomach!), and headed out for the 1/2 hour drive into Hollywood.

I joined the crowd and waited patiently for the ceremony to begin. Jim Ladd, LA's legendary rock DJ (Floyd fans will recognize Ladd from Roger Waters' Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking album) thanked the crowd, intro'd some of the people in attendance, and then proceeded to give the most rousing, inspiring introduction for the 'mystery guest'. Folks, I just don't have great memory when I'm over-excited, but essentially Jim Ladd called "the mystery guest" an incredible legend and used "brilliance" and "innovation" and many other proper adjectives in describing him. The crowd cheered its approval with each praise, most unaware that it would be Brian May stepping out from the shadows and up to the podium.

Of significant importance for us Americans, Ladd's final words were, "Please welcome future Rock Walk inductee, Brian May!!" The crowd roared it's approval! (I can only wonder when this induction will take place!).

Brian stepped up and gave a wonderful, heartfelt endorsement to Def Leppard. As the traffic roared along Sunset Blvd, and the hot LA sun beamed down on us, Brian in his typical eloquence had everyone in attendance listening carefully. As I raised my camera over my head to snap pictures, I was moved by his honesty and dedication. I unfortunately cannot quote passages from memory, but there were many reporters, cameras, and microphones around. Surely this speech will appear on some website (hopefully Jim Ladd's words as well).

Loud whistles and applause greeted Brian at his conclusion, Def Leppard then came out and each gave Brian a warm hug. Joe Elliot I believe was first to speak and was emotional from Brian's words. He stated it was one of the greatest introductions he ever had. Personally, Brian's speech reminded me of Bono's introduction of Frank Sinatra years ago at the Grammy Awards, anybody remember that one?

The Def Leps accepted their accolades and proceeded to put their hand prints into the wet cement. In a touching moment, the drummer Rick Allen was lifted up and placed his footprints in the cement, with Brian watching from the sidelines. Brian eventually came up for a group photo with the Def Leps and then the artists retreated inside the Guitar Center, presumably for press photos, interviews, meetings, etc. The public was not allowed inside unless they had a special events badge.

I decided to wait at a driveway exit on a side street to see if I could see Brian in a passing limo. Persistence paid off well, because about an hour after the ceremony ended, I could see Brian bid goodbye to the Def Leps, climb into a black limo, and it drove my direction. I took out my Fan Club card out of my wallet, pointed sheepishly to my T-shirt, and I guess the clogged one could not resist shaking hands with this sunburned American. He stopped his limo and got out specifically just to meet with me and 2 other fans waiting at the gate

I immediately congratulated Brian on the Furia soundtrack, and told him I was eagerly awaiting my copy in the mail. I also told him how much American fans love him and his music and how desperate we are for his performances over here. He smiled, acknowledged and thanked me for my comments and support. I had one of the security guards take my photo with Brian, and then Brian took a CD out of my hand and signed it. I guess he figured I was hyped up and might not remember to hand it over to him! Gratefully we thanked Brian. I told him how wonderful he was at the Albert Hall in '98 and that we are STILL waiting for the video release :-)

Brian waved, always smiling, we again told him how much we want to see him in concert in the U.S. As he got into the limo, I don't think we gave him a chance to answer and we kept thanking him for songs, albums, concerts, etc....He seemed genuinely pleased with the encounter. I guess I was lucky there were only 2 people with me instead of the whole crowd waiting at the gate. It was an inconspicuous exit. It worked to my advantage.

I have fought sleep, not wanting this day to end. It's 3:30AM here now, and I have to give up. One of the greatest days of my life is almost over. I will sleep well tonight.

Thank you Freddie Mercury, for on your Birthday you gave me a terrific gift. There is not a shadow of a doubt that you made this happen for me. No-One but You :-)

Mark Eldridge
September 5, 2000




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