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Stas Sagdeyev in front of the Freddie's Statue in MontreuxHi there!!

It's been a long time indeed since I had something interesting posted here, not really because there was nothing interesting to write about. It was really a matter of time. Anyway, after I had posted some videos from the last Freddie Mercury Memorial Day in Montreux I received a good feedback from people along with requests to give some more information on what was happening in Montreux and particularly at the conference with Mike Moran. Finally, I'm ready to tell you the story.

As an already ten years tradition, the 10th Freddie Mercury’s Montreux Memorial Day was held close to Freddie's birthday (5th of September) from the 31st of August till the 2nd of September 2012, and for the first time, I finally managed to get to this major event for one day - Saturday.

Back to Montreux

Montreux met fans and other Queen-pilgrims with the usual for it cloudy weather. It was already past 10 o'clock when I arrived so I knew that I missed the first boat trip but there was another one scheduled at 11.00. In the vicinity of the Freddie's statue I found some fans who, apparently, were also waiting for the second boat trip to the Freddie's Lake House. Despite having been to Montreux a few times already, every time this quiet place seems to bring peace to my mind and excitement at the same time.

A boat trip to the Freddie's Lake House

Freddie Mercury's Lake House (or Duck House) in Montreux/Clarens as seen from the side of the lake

Closer to 11am people began moving towards to the pier near the Casino where the boat trip was to begin. For many people, the Lake House which we can see at the cover of the Queen's "Made In Heaven" album is still a mystery. It is quite known now that it is located in Clarens, close to Montreux but not many have seen it from the side of the Geneva Lake. This is only possible once a year, during the Freddie Mercury Memorial Day. Surprisingly enough for those (including me) who were making this trip for the first time in their lives at the boat all of the people were greeted by Peter Freestone, a man who for years was a personal assistant of Freddie Mercury. It began to rain but this fact did not seem to spoil the atmosphere between the fans who were also entertained by the band Ricky Leroy Brown accompanying the trip.

Peter Freestone - the guide at the Lake House boat trip

During the trip Peter Freestone told the stories about Freddie's and Queen's stays in Montreux. When we reached the Lake House Peter explained that it was called "Duck House" because everywhere there were ornamental ducks. Behind (looking from the lake) the Duck house there's a building with the red shutters which is the building where the band and Freddie used to stay while recording in Montreux. Peter clarified that the studio always rented this house for those musicians who would come to record to Montreux (like, David Bowie and Steve Howe from Yes). It was very appropriate because it is away from the city centre and in this place hardly anyone could disturb the stars. As you probably remember from my previous articles, looking from the side of Rue du Lac if you don't look over the fence (which is quite high) you won't even know there's a house behind it.

Les Tourelles building where Freddie Mercury had an Appartment

Freddie used to stay in this house until 1988 and then he bought an apartment in the block "Les Tourelles" at Quai de Fleurs in Territet because he decided to rather have something of his own than to rent it. So, the house at Rue du Lac was a house where a lot of stars used to stay at times when Mountain Studios was working in Montreux.

The view at the Freddie's apartment in "Les Tourelles" building where Freddie was working for the last two years of his life (which means that songs for Made in Heaven and partly for Innuendo he wrote there) was the last point of the boat trip. The last time Freddie visited this place was the 10th of November 1991. We can see the balcony of the apartment. Peter recalls that in "The Untold Story" documentary the table with teacups and teapots with the view of the lake was filmed from that balcony.

Mountain Studios (what is left of it) - the future museum?

Mountain Studios in Montreux - the door - all what's left of it

Amazingly enough, this was the first time I managed to have a look at the legendary door of the former Montain Studios which Queen owned since 1979. As sad as it sounds, this is the only thing that's left of the legendary Mountain Studios ran by David Richards (exceptional sound engineer and producer) in Montreux. Since 1993 it was moved together with Dave Richards, its new owner, to Attalens (about 15 minutes above from Montreux). According to Peter Freestone, there has been a lot of tries to talk the administration of the casino into allowing to turn the remains (actually, there's absolutely nothing inside right now) of the studio into the museum but so far with no success.

However, one of the guys on the boat said that earlier in the morning he was at the casino and they told him that now they are actually considering this idea which was a surprise even for Peter: "Oh, that's news to us... It could be an amazing museum. Only, it's not big enough to make a big museum but we could actually get hold of the old [studio] equipment that used to be in there." Also, Peter emphasised that in case of this happening Queen office would be happy to provide the original costumes and stuff like that for the museum. There are not so many places in the world which are so much connected to Queen as Montreux. "The only other place that would be absolutely perfect [for the museum] would be Garden Lodge but it's the private property" - said Peter.

Why was the Freddie's statue moved?

The Freddie Mercury's iconic Statue became since 1996 another reason why every Queen fan wants to come to visit Montreux at least once. Featuring on the front cover of the Queen's Made In Heaven album (both, sunset and sunrise versions) it became world famous and a lot of people today come to Montreux just to see the statue of Freddie Mercury. However, not many people know why it has been moved about 10 meters to the left (of you look at it from the side of the lake) from its original location. Peter explains that the only reason it happened was that the Queen Management was fed up with seeing the photographs of Freddie Mercury and golden arches of McDonald's in the background.

Mike Moran - Barcelona and working with Freddie Mercury

Mike Moran and Stas

The conference with Mike Moran at the Eden Palace hotel seemed to be especially intriguing for me as I expected to hear from Mike some input concerning the reasons of the (now infamous) 2012 reorchestrated issue of Barcelona. The new version deserves a separate article (which I might write some day) but now let's concentrate on Mike. I wouldn't like to just repeat everything he said what you could already hear in this video but rather tell you what was left behind.

The strange thing I noticed was that despite showing us the remastered versions of "Time" and "In My Defence" (which, at that time, were not released yet) all of the videos used during the conference were the old versions, although, a new remastered cut of the Barcelona video had already been publicly available for a couple of weeks. This brought me to asking a question about the new release of "Barcelona".

From what Mike said during the conference and after (when I asked him) we can summarise: It was not the matter of time when it came to the decision of releasing "Barcelona" with the synthesized orchestra. Mike asked Freddie at least two times, when they were still writing and when all of the material was recorded, whether Freddie wants him to do an orchestra score and record the real orchestra but Freddie was very happy just with the way "Barcelona" sounded with Mike Moran's synthesized orchestra. Also, as it became absolutely clear after the release of the new version Mike Moran was not really involved in its production. At the conference he said: "Of course, I'm not telling you not to buy it, haha... please, buy it."

Conference with Peter Freestone

Bec Sharpe and Stas SagdeyevLater in the evening we all gathered in the market area where Peter Freestone put on some of the tapes from Freddie's and Mike's night with Montserrat Caballé and showed some pictures. Among them was the picture of the fridge in Garden Lodge ready for a party. On the right side it was full of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne (Freddie's favourite) and on the left side of Stolichnaya vodka but as an evidence that it was not an unhealthy party there also were three and a half bottles of Perrier water and some orange juice.

I also was happy to meet Bec Sharpe from London who became known for her great involvement in the Freddie For A Day event and actually spent her time at the memorial also dressed as Freddie.

The Freddie Mercury Memorial Day of 2012 was an unforgettable event. It gathered the fans from all over the world. No matter how many times you come to Montreux, it makes you want to come back again and again.

The end of the day: What a beautiful evening
"It's all so beautiful, like a landscape painting in the sky..."

Check all other great pictures from the the 10th Freddie Mercury Memorial Day in Montreux here.

Previous Facebook comments

  1. Tracey Clark Baiatewhat's on this year.
    • Stas SagdeyevThis http://sagdeyev.com/en/blog/2013/freddie-mercury-memorial-day-2013-see-you-in-montreux
  2. Asko KafedzicWhere do you buy the tickets for the trip to the boathouse?
    • Stas SagdeyevUsually, you can buy tickets directly at the boat.
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