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
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
September 5, 2000
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