Once upon a time… there was a band that had to try to please everyone… did they please anybody?
First of all, you have to understand that I LOVE THIS BAND. In the way only a 15-16 year old girl can when she finds a band that is the” love of their life” and grew up playing all their early albums non-stop, till they were worn to nothing and we had to buy new copies. They literally changed my life because the one and only reason my best friend Nina and I started trying to get backstage at every single gig that came to the Capitol Centre was to be ready for Queen to get there. So we would know just how to meet our idols. It was all just practice for the big event. At first, at least. I had no way of knowing then that going backstage and becoming a part of that world was going to be my life for the next 7 years or so and change me whole perception of who I was and what I could be. No more shy awkward little junior high school punching bag. No more was I the girl that the ugliest boy in school became offended because a rumor started we were dating. No more was I the girl the entire neighborhood picked on and despised. Once I found out that guys like Roger Daltry thought I was just fine. A lot of women had their self- esteem destroyed by what went on backstage during those years but I took no crap from no one and I actually came out of it feeling like a person of value with something to offer. So if it had not been for Queen who knows who I would have turned out to be? Probably what I started as before they came along, a depressed, abused, powerless, vulnerable, naive worthless kid who would have latched on to the first bully that paid her any attention at all and ended like a lifetime movie of the week . So to say they were important to me is the understatement of the century.
We saw them for the first time at Cole Field House at George Washington University. Fri Feb 4th 1977. Just a college gig, with Thin Lizzy opening. It was our very first rock concert and just before they become wildly popular in the states . We knew all about them already, of course, but that’s because we had just discovered rock and roll and loved the English bands, especially the glam bands. We first started watching rock and roll on TV when I discovered the Kinks and we took great pride in owning every fan magazine with our favorite Brit bands and only shopping in the import record stores, but nothing had prepared us for THE REAL THING! Freddie, Roger, Brian, and John in their full glory at the height of their creativity scratching and clawing their way to be nothing less than biggest band in the world. And even though I spent quite a bit of it making out with Scott during the concert, I kept my eyes open every minute of the show and the make out session (what? You never heard of multitasking? lol) And it was incredible.
Our next concert would be Led Zeppelin at the Cap Centre and that was it! From that moment onward we would hitchhike around the beltway if necessary, across 6 lanes of traffic to get to every big gig by noon to study how this whole” meeting the band” thing was done. The first time Queen came back to the Capitol Centre it was the same year Tue 29th Nov – 1977 The Day of the Races tour was continuing and growing to stadium size and stating to set records. Of course we only caught a glimpse of them in their limos as they drove past us into the backstage area but by then we had learned a thing or two so we left the gig early and were waiting in the car when their limos rushed out and we followed them all the way into Downtown DC (giggling and screaming) although they did their best to lose us , until they got to some Japanese restaurant and we refused to budge from out front until they came out again so we could follow them to the hotel. Luckily for us Queen turned out to be creatures of habit and once we knew where they were staying we could head straight for the hotel every time and if we were lucky beat them there. So we always got to see them pass through the lobby. Nina isn’t in this picture. i think she must have been holding the camera. It took quite a while for them to come back because now they were massive all over the world.
But then it was announced! They were coming back! 6th Nov 1978 to the Capitol Centre~ on MY 18th birthday!
We knew where they were staying, we had a ride and crazily enough we got backstage passes! Crystal ( Chris Taylor , Rogers drum tech and MUCH MORE) loved my black and white striped leotard, black mini skater skirt and black and white striped over the knee leg warmers so he said he” couldn’t leave me outside in that fabulous outfit” and gave us all passes get in to the outer edges of the backstage! Everything couldn’t have been more perfect. It felt like the luckiest night of my life. Right up until this moron friend of ours who had promised to chauffeur us around all night told about three hundred little girls all wearing I love Roger Taylor buttons (while we were indoors backstage and he had to sit in the parking lot waiting) the one thing we knew that nobody else did. What hotel they were staying at. Because we had passes we didn’t slip out of the show early, hoping to see the band while they were inside the arena, where no one else could get at them, now the secret was out and was spreading like wildfire but they were just too well guarded for that. I got a body-guard to take a few pics of Freddie we had taken that we were especially proud of into the dressing room and he came out with two words from her highness. “Not bad” A bit rude, but what the hell we would take it. By the time we got to the hotel the crowd of girls who had been outside the back door while our ride John was showing off and running off at his big mouth had all beaten us there and had packed the lobby of the hotel full to bursting. I started to walk inside but when I saw the throng I knew any chance of a moment or two just to connect with Roger, or even more, hopefully, was now impossible so as the band entered and he was surrounded I just turned my back and dejectedly started to walk away .
All he sudden I hear this shouting above all the din of dozens of squealing girls surrounding their idol.
In a very familiar voice ” ROGER!” screamed Nina ” ROGER TAYLOR! TURN AROUND RIGHT NOW AND LOOK AT ME! I SAID NOW!” Well by now the entire hotel was staring, mouths gaping open at Nina- she pointed her finger at my departing back. I had yet to have the courage to turn around and she said (Once again extremely disapprovingly at the gob smacked Mr Taylor and company)
” MY BEST FRIEND SHERRY LOVES YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD AND ITS HER BIRTHDAY AND YOU ARE GOING TO TALK TO HER! The or else was a given.
By now even I had to turn around, there was no other option, just to see every eye in the place gawking at me. Roger said graciously “Why of course. Come here Sherry.” wiggling a finger at me like dangling tuna at a frightened kitten. An aisle started to open like the parting of the red sea in a direct line between Roger and I and spread to about 12 foot wide, my hopes of having a private moment when our eyes met and we fell madly in love were hopelessly dashed by this point and this is the last place in the world I want to be now. I began slowly walking towards him totally mortified, eyes down cast. the room was waiting to see what would happen when I got there, like an obedient little peasant girl . I’m standing now, right in front of him, eyes still downcast and he actually puts his hands on his knees and bends over to look me in the face, and says in the voice a clown says to a timid three year old at a loud birthday celebration surprise… “So it’s your birthday is it? And us how old is it you are then today? (the words little girl never spoken, but they might as well have been, they hung so heavily in the air) ” Eighteen” I mumbled, absolutely humiliated, terrified he was going to pat me on the head before this whole ordeal was over at long last. “Well, happy birthday to you!” and he stuck his hand out with his elbow bent like you would to a kindergartner at graduation. I took it, shook it and ran for my life. Once again he crowd of girls started squealing and giggling as they closed back in on him while he signed autographs but by then I was halfway to the car. I will never be able to thank her enough though, and we laughed hysterically the whole ride home!
Sat 23rd Aug 1980 – USA, Baltimore, Civic Center was their next show. I had a ticket and a ride arranged but from a friend who was a pathological liar. So when he time had come for her to pick me after an hour or two, i knew she wasn’t coming and ha never intended to and I wasn’t surprised at all it had happened. And I was still a bit wobbly from the last show. But that was the last time I ever spoke to her. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Should have been done long ago. two long years pass before they come into town again.
Sun 25th July 1982 – USA, Washington DC, Capital Centre Hot Space Tour –
By then we were experts at getting backstage at everyone but we had never been able to get a crack at getting any closer to Queen, they were just too tightly secured, too well guarded. and by we i mean me and my new partner in the rock and roll game, the other Shari, 50 percent of the now ” The Infamous Sherry and Shari”
” Able to leap restraining barriers in one mighty stiletto’ed hop, to get to where we had no business being with a single bound. We were only happy if we got inside every single show that came into town free. We approached it single-minded, and as a science. We made friends with every crew we could, every gig, every tour, and found out when and with what band they would come back to town. We would get the names of their friends on other tours to watch out for, and to ask for personally. We flirted unmercifully with every person working every door, and every goon operating security at every local event. We made friends of every union stagehand, chatted up every truck driver, T-shirt shirt man, all the sound-men, and the entire lighting team. We sweet-talked every gaffer, rigger, and roadie in sight and cozy-ed up to every regular hotel employee at all the hotels the bands were always booked into. We flattered and fussed over every limo driver for a hundred miles around. We made sure we knew everyone and made sure we were known and appreciated by every promoter as well behaved and worth having around, not sleazy, low-class troublemakers. To find out where the best parties were going to be, we did detective and surveillance work that would have made Phillip Marlowe proud. We learned to contact the band’s A & R person at the label in New York or L.A. in advance to see if we could sweet-talk our way onto “The List.” Eventually, somehow we’d manage to schmooze, sneak, or scheme our way in every single time. They all soon learned there was never any hope of us doing sexual favors for passes for any show, like some of those girls at the back door, but you could always count on us to show up at 10 am, bringing fresh baked cookies or a homemade meatloaf for lunch, in order to keep the bored, exhausted boys who lived on the bus company and entertained on a long, hard day and night out here in the middle of suburban nowhere somewhere in Maryland, or Virginia or Washington D.C or Baltimore. Happy to get out a needle and thread and put a button back on their favorite shirt, or run an errand they hadn’t gotten around to, or spend the afternoon before the gig at the hotel doing their laundry. Even better, we invited all our available girlfriends to come down to the gig at show time if they were willing to give them passes too. Most of all, we truly cared just as much or more about our friendships with the roadies as we did about meeting the bands. That was what made all the difference, made us special. We had a genuine desire to get to know them because they were much more interesting than the local boys our age could ever be, and we really wanted them to have a nice time while they came to town. It was always appreciated when someone would let us in free or give us a pass, and we made sure they knew it and treated them decently so we got the same appreciation, treatment and respect back. Now, I’m not trying to say we didn’t partake and participate in all sorts of notorious backstage naughty-girl behavior; our shenanigans were just about as well- known as our courtesy and our kindness. After all, I did say we were fairies, not angels. But we had a certain set of morals and high standards and ethics when it came to our behavior and reputations, and a limit to how much bullshit we were willing to tolerate. We grew to be known as people you should be kind to, look out for, and take care of when you came to our town.” from Even Rock and Roll has Fairy Tales: The Flight of the Sherry Fairy by Sherry Carroll https://www.amazon.com/Even-Rock-Roll-Fairy-Tales/dp/1502490471
So you can imagine our shock when fairly early and easily we scored VIP passes and got into the show! And before it’s over we had the golden ticket. We were invited upstairs to party inside the Hotel where the band was staying! Unfortunately when we got to the party it was only the crew. And even though we made sure to get names and make friends with the people certain to be able to get us passes with no problem, forever after, those the very closest to the band, little did we know, even if they might have had an Inkling, there would be no more next times in Dc. Soon Freddie was gone. And Queen, as we knew them could never tour again.
Moving ahead to September 03, 2006 Queen was coming to the convention center with Paul Rogers. By then I wasn’t going to concerts at all anymore but my kid brother who I had turned into an even bigger Queen fan than I ever was, if that were possible, and had never seen them and I thought should have a chance so I bought him two tickets . At the last minute he was unable to go, so rather begrudgingly, just to keep them from going to waste my husband and I went. And it was all right, I was in the audience just listening , not even feeling it, not even being aware or shutting down any emotions over this being a “ Queen” gig and Freddie being gone . Until, I don’t know, something happened when Roger started to sing Radio Ga Ga. A tune I had never particularly cared for in the past because it was passed the time when Queen music had been able to affect me because it had changed so much. And I really listened to it. And it really sunk I was here, with Roger and Brian and I began to weep and just cried like baby the entire rest of the show.
When Queen announced that they were going to come out of retirement and tour this summer as Queen with Adam Lambert I wasn’t as thrilled as you might have expected. I figured it would be some big stadium gig where I would pay hundreds of dollars to see them look like ants and after all the other, so much better experiences, it could only be a bitter end to a tragic tale. I had my crazy little memories; they were good enough for me. I could watch them on you tube in their prime doing anything I wanted to see. I didn’t need to be one of 200,000 people in the audience of a football stadium.
But something crazy happened on a Wednesday night in March. I got an email with advance ticket sale password to get Queen tickets 24 hours before the general public at MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION. A tiny little nowhere venue, a place where I could be closer to, or have better seats then I ever had in my life to see Roger and Brian one more time in my lifetime, or theirs. If I could be one of the first ones on line to purchase online at 9 am in the morning the day the pre-sale began. And a feeling stated to wash over me. One I had not had about a concert in 20 years. It kept building and building until it could not be ignored.
I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it, but dammit I was going to give it all I got to try.
I called my kid brother to see if he is keen. I knew one person could get at least six tickets if they got though and he was all excited for it. The night before I started getting so nervous and excited I knew there was no way I was going to be able to sleep. I logged on the ticket site just to see if by some fluke the pass word would work early and almost had a sheer heart attack myself. The tickets down in front were 295.00 dollars each. Well, I’m sorry but I don’t even have a proper job , I’m a writer, a starving artiste, and the only way I could, or would spring for three hundred dollar tickets to see anybody Roger Taylor would have to be playing the drums from my lap.
And I could see AmEx members had an even better pre-sale deal where their tickets were on sale already. So the odds of their being anything left by the next morning worth having were slim to none. Luckily I’m the kind of girl who finds the words ” it’s impossible” to be just the challenge I need to be the one person who can actually manage to pull it off. After sitting at the computer all night debating would I be willing to pay the 295? I could get one just the one? Or if all that was left was us all sitting on the grass on the lawn for fifty bucks a million miles away was it worth going at all?
I suddenly realized while prowling the venue site that the expensive seat weren’t even seats! They were paying for the privilege of standing up all night smashed up against the stage something I hadn’t had any interest at all in doing since long before I turned thirty. But the SEATS were about 180.00 dollars each and every seat in Meriwether is a winner, not a dud in the bunch. Maybe, just maybe, I could get us three of those. But by now its 2 am and my banks are all closed and the tickets go on sale at nine am and I have to get every single penny I have out of every account, off every credit card and have it all in one place and be back in my seat at the computer not one min later than 8: 50 the next morning. I moved everything I had electronically into the checking in one bank and everything I had electronically I could into the checking in the other other. now all I had to do was get up the next morning, hit one bank and wipe it out, hit the other and drop it all in and have it all in one place on one working credit card.
The problem was I had to do it all by taxi cab. During rush hour. As soon as my banks opened and be back on time or it was all for nothing. I’ve pulled off much crazier schemes plenty of times ( see Ian Hunters Birthday Post) but I hadn’t done it in a long time. And with every hour that passed it was getting more important to me that I get in, no matter what, if there was any way humanly possible.
At 7:00 am after being up all night I was ready for the plan to commence, Luckily one of my banks opened at 8 am and the other 8: 30 if I had the money out of the eight am one and could get it to the 8:30 one he moment the doors opened I could be home at 8: 45 . Called the cab company and there were no cabs at all for an hour. So I jumped on the first bus that took me straight t my first bank. There at 8:05 money removed to the last dime and right next door to a cab stand. Surely phase two would kick off any min. but stood and I stood and I stood the cab stand in the freezing cold as the minutes ticked past and no cab was to be found. Until 8: 36. I leap in like the police commandeering a car and scream at the driver” We have to fly like the wind or all is for naught! GO!” and bless his little heart he does and I have all the money I could beg borrow or steal in one bank and on one working credit card and am home by 8: 55… For the HARD part.
My heart is pounding, my adrenaline pumping, I’m buzzed to the gills, wired to the max, and this is not something I am going to fail at. And when I’m that determined I rarely do. The minute he clock hits 9 I am frantically logging into the site, and I keep getting offered great seats ( OMG THERE ARE SOME LEFT) but every time I go to pay I get booted out of the system from so many people trying to use it at once and every time I log back in the tickets are further back. Soon there will not be any further back to go and I start to resign myself to the possibility of failure. But at last the machine doesn’t boot me out of the system , and I’m so relieved to have gotten seats at all I spend the 180.00 I had leftover to put back into all the accounts to last the rest of the month on a fourth ticket! I HAVE THEM! They are mine!
And immediately I burst into tears and fall apart at the seams for the entire weekend. I did not realize how much it meant to me and how much emotion I was holding back until I had them in my hand and was sure I would get in. so you can imagine how special it was going to have to be for me, and for all different ranges of Queen fans, Old timers like me, and some who never thought it would be the same without Freddie, those who only knew Queen from the eighties with iconic stash Freddie, people wanting them too succeed, people go expecting them to fail… how in the world were they actually going to pull this thing off? But I didn’t care. I didn’t think about that just then. I was going to see Brian and Roger again. That was the only thing that mattered to me.
And by the way, my kid brother reimbursed me for not just his girlfriends but for my ticket as well, which I never expected. Really nice thing for him to do. So I wanted to make a point of pointing it out. That left me with one to give away or sell. I figured by the show time came, if I couldn’t find the perfect person to take it I could probably sell it for enough to cover the three original tickets.
So you may be asking yourself right about now ” When the hell is she actually going to get to the review of the show?” Excellent question. I’ve been trying to get there since I started this and still haven’t made it have I? Maybe I better let this be part be the prologue, part one and the concert itself be part two. Not that it does you any good if you have read this far already might as well tough it out to the end lol
The day has arrived . It’s Sunday June 20, 2014. I was supposed to spend all sat resting but of course I couldn’t possibly sit still so I spent the whole day and night cleaning the house. I’ve never even more ready for a concert in my life! My hair is professionally done a fetching combination of blood red with streak of cobalt blue, my fake fingernails painted like beautiful blue butterfly wings. There was a close to last minute crisis about my dresses not arriving by show time but I decided to make due with a silver and black Gothic ball gown! After all there is no such thing as too glam for Queen or even too over the top. The sky is literally the limit!
I’ve taken to creating and collecting dolls the last few years and I made a lovely set of Queen with not one but two Freddie’s I was determined to take on that off chance I could slip past Queen super security but fairly sure that I couldn’t. If I could not get near them as a gorgeous teenage girl the odds of me doing it as a middle aged nut with a basket full of creepy weird large queen dolls were not going to be much better, but one can always dream. And I enjoy the hell out of taking my Queen out for photo ops and I thought the rest of the fans might get a kick out of seeing them as well. If I had been going on my own or had my own transport I would have been up at the gig working on it at ten am when the crew was fairly relaxed and there was no union security but I figured by the time the doors opened at show time all I could do was give it one last desperate shot.
To my brothers misfortune his girlfriend didn’t feel well enough to go see a band that she just wasn’t that crazy about , and so to my great delight my adorable daughter agreed to go in her place! I was thrilled to bits. I had wanted her to go all along and she kept saying no, more firmly the more I cajoled begged and insisted but by the evening of the show she hadn’t arranged anything better to do and decided she was keen after all!
There was an almost catastrophe the day before when I didn’t realized the tickets had already been mailed to us and I finally found them by accident at the last minute so as concerts go, this was having a less than average number of screw-ups in advance so of course I was terrified. So far nothing had gone terribly horribly wrong. That’s a bad sign when it comes to a road trip in my world. I get dropped off at my mom’s in Baltimore where my brother lived about 1 pm and somehow four hours just did not seem time enough to get ready!
But finally at 5: 30 he shows and we are off to the gig where the doors open at 6: 30. I hadn’t been to Meriwether in thirty years and forgot how much walking there was to do from parking lot to seat, but adorable daughter cheerfully gave a hand whenever necessary at getting to our seats with a heavy basket of huge goth queen dolls that probably weighed almost as much as she did. And I was right, the fans loved them. They were petted and posed with and passed all around us so people could get pics. And Roby, the adorable daughter didn’t mind a bit trotting over to the other side of the venue to the closest spot you could get to the backstage for a Hail Mary play before show time. At one point I spotted a beautiful girl with long dark curls and a smoking hot bod covered with enough official laminated credentials as most of the crew put together and she came when I called her over. She couldn’t have been nicer and said leave the dolls here and I will be right back and show them to the band, but it was ten mins until they were due on stage and I loved them too much ( and they cost way too much money) to make to let them out of my sight the entire show, on the off chance they got to Brian and Roger, and then back to me safely after the show and I knew the security guard would or take responsibility or guarding them for us until we got back, so we wisely decided since it was minutes to show time to head back to our seats so we wouldn’t disturb anyone coming down the aisle once the show started. I had just enough time for a few snaps of my own with the dolls