10 Dec 18
The Scottish Sun
WHEN rocker Fish saw hit movie Bohemian Rhapsody, memories of wild nights with Freddie Mercury which put him Under Pressure from his raging bandmates came flooding back.
The Scot toured Europe with Queen in the 1980s as lead singer of Marillion and even shared a stage with the flamboyant frontman.
Fish toured Europe with Freddie Mercury
He says the Queen frontman was much more outrageous than shown in the film
And when he saw the box office smash, starring Rami Malek as Mercury, it was as if he was on the road again.
Fish, real name Derek Dick, says: “It was weird because when I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody I realised I knew all the people who were around at the time.
“Rami had Freddie down to a tee — although it was a bit sanitised. It was the PG rating they’d gone for. The Freddie I knew was far more outrageous than that.”
Marillion were the support act for Queen’s 1986 Magic tour, playing open-air gigs in Paris, Brussels, Leiden, Mannheim and Berlin.
But the We Are The Champions singer always kept warm-ups at arm’s length — so Fish had to blag his way into Mercury’s inner circle.
The Scot supported Queen with Marillion
He explains: “I knew Brian May and Roger Taylor very well, but it was difficult to get near Freddie.
“When we played Paris I’d got to know Queen’s security guards and they gave me a pass to allow me into the Queen inner sanctum.
“After the show, I was partying with Queen and Marillion couldn’t get in, so they b***ered off.
“I ended up sharing a stretch limo with Brian with police escort motorcycles to a party in some nightclub.
Adorable Scots Freddie Mercury fan, 3, belts out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – and knows EVERY word as mum films it in the car in West Lothian
“We arrived late and the bouncers weren’t going to allow Brian in as they didn’t recognise him.
“I had to pretend I was his minder. I put on my heaviest Scottish accent and said, ‘You do realise who this is?’. That worked. Freddie and the rest of Queen were sitting at a table with Duran Duran.”
The 6ft 5in Scot adds: “I remember seeing the rest of Marillion, looking utterly gutted as they were completely blanked while I was at the top table.
“The next morning they abandoned me and left for the airport. I slept in, ran out of the hotel and stopped the first car I saw and demanded, ‘Take me to the airport now’.
“God knows what the driver made of this hungover Scotsman clambering into his car. But he was a fan of Marillion so we managed to make my flight on time.”
But the best was yet to come when Fish was asked to duet with Freddie in Germany.
He says: “We played Mannheim in front of 150,000 people. We’d played a fantastic show and Freddie watched us from the side of the stage for the entire gig.
How true was the Bohemian Rhapsody film? Freddie Mercury biopic real life timeline
“At the end I was summoned by him to sing Tutti Frutti. I remember saying, ‘Oh come on, I can hardly remember the words to it’.
“Freddie said I’d be fine and when I went on stage, he handed me the microphone. He made it known, in a very nice way, this was his stage and I was his guest. His stage presence was absolutely phenomenal, but to be up that close and see just how good he was in person was just awesome.”
[boxout headline=”BAND AID ‘NO’ WAS BIG MISTAKE”]FISH may have got to support Queen on tour — but his biggest regret was not joining them on the bill at Live Aid.
The Bohemian Rhapsody movie opens and finishes with Freddie’s iconic performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985. But Fish was relegated to only singing in the celebrity chorus at the end of the mammoth concert instead of taking centre stage. He says: “We were on tour through Italy when the Band Aid lot contacted us, as they wanted me to sing on Do They Know It’s Christmas. But our manager at the time turned it down. It was the worst mistake ever made. Because if I had sung on the single then we would have been on the Live Aid bill and it would have been a key to America. Instead I was at Wembley as a guest and the whole day people kept asking me, ‘What time are Marillion on?’ I had to keep saying, ‘We’re not playing’. It was weird because we had the no1 single and album at that time. All I got to do was sing the chorus to Do They Know It’s Christmas on stage at the end while standing next to Billy Connolly. That was as close as I got. But we should’ve been on the bill with Queen if it hadn’t been for one insane decision.”[/boxout]
Fish, from Haddington, East Lothian, joined English-based rock band Marillion in 1981.
The group had a string of hits in the mid-80s, including Kayleigh, Lavender and Incommunicado, as well as chart-topping albums Misplaced Childhood and Clutching At Straws.
Fish quit the group in 1988 — just two years after their Queen support tour — to go solo.
And the singer, who married second wife Simone last year, admits life on the road has got harder than ever since turning 60.
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He says: “You’re officially no longer middle-aged, you’re just old.
I met Midge Ure, who turned 65 recently, and he was saying when he goes into the record company and he’s talking to the young staff he expects them to finish every question with, ‘Is that alright grandad?’. It is getting harder to tour. I’m realistic — I’m never going to play arenas again.”
Fish will finish his European dates at Glasgow’s O2 Academy on Thursday, performing songs from his upcoming final album Weltschmerz.
And he insists he will call it quits for good in 2021 — exactly 40 years after he first shot to fame.
He says: “There are lots of other things I would like to do, including finish my autobiography. Put it this way, I have plenty to write about — including Freddie. He was a lot of fun and it was a privilege to have sung with him.”
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