On this day
  • 1966: Clive Castledine was asked to leave Opposition, so John learned to...
  • 1974: Queen live on Queen II Tour performing rescheduled show at...

Read all 11 events for 2 April at diary.QueenSongs.info

Jazz

Overview

After all the dust had settled and all the debts had been paid regarding their previous Trident management, Queen also parted ways with John Reid and decided to look after themselves, assisted by Peter Brown and Paul Prenter. Even though Opera and Races had both sold well, it was only after News of the World that they became genuine millionaires, which led to Roger buying a country house in Surrey and Frederick purchasing a Rolls Royce, but also to the four of them entering a new tax category and having to leave Britain temporarily.

They relocated to the Swiss canton of Vaud, where their neighbours included fellow tax exiles David Bowie and Richard Wakeman, and the album sessions began at Mountain Studios (which they hadn't yet bought at that point). The studios were considerably smaller than what they were used to in Wales and England, and they even had to bring their own piano - an almost nine-foot-long Steinway Frederick had found in Hartford (Connecticut) back in November 1977. It was also in Montreux that they saw part of the Tour de France (which, despite its name, doesn't exclusively take place in France), inspiring a song.

Personnel-wise, they'd lost Michael Stone (who'd moved to America) but re-gained Roy Baker (also a tax exile) as well as Geoffrey Workman (who'd worked with them on the Sheer Heart Attack album) and John Etchells (who'd produced some of their semi-live recordings for the BBC). It was most likely still done on 24-track tape-recorders. Overdubs and mixing took place at Super Bear Studios in France.

Available Sources

This album is notably obscure in its details, and the surviving Queen members rarely mention it. There are handwritten manuscripts for a lot of its songs showing some of their creative evolution but very little information on recording equipment or a detailed timeline.

On the other hand, the official release included a huge photo taken in Montreux showing the instruments they had at the time, including, from left to right: Brian's Danelectro guitar, three Martin acoustic guitars, Roger's Paiste symphonic gong, Roger's Guild S-300 guitar, one of John's Fender Precision basses, a Fender Stratocaster guitar (presumably John's), Frederick's Steinway piano, Brian's Aloha ukelele (perhaps the same one he'd used three years earlier to record 'Good Company'), John's other Fender Precision bass, John's Music Man Stingray bass, a Spanish guitar (most likely John's but could've also been Brian's), John's Fender Precision fretless bass, Roger's massive Ludwig drum kit, Brian's twelve-string Baldwin Double-Six guitar, Brian's original BHM guitar and another drum kit (unknown make).

The 24-track of 'Fat Bottomed Girls' leaked online in January 2020. There are also stems for 'Don't Stop Me Now' (made officially available as part of a mixing contest in mid-2011), 'Fat Bottomed Girls'  (Guitar Hero World Tour: Downloadable Track Pack released on Thursday 26th March 2009) and 'Bicycle Race' (Rock Band 3: Queen Extravaganza Pack 2, released on Tuesday 6th December 2011).

Documented Timeline

  • 1978:
    • February: Frederick writes a letter to the Fan Club, informing that he'd bought a grand piano (possibly the one he'd use on tour and some recordings from then on) and lamenting the fact John Harris had fallen ill whilst in America. That issue of the Fan Club magazine also confirms the band has parted ways with John Reid and has decided to manage themselves with the assistance of Peter Brown and Paul Prenter.
    • July: Rehearsals and preliminary recordings in Montreux. Confirmed material:
      • 'Don't Stop Me Now'.
      • 'Fat Bottomed Girls'.
      • 'In Only Seven Days'.
      • 'More of That Jazz'.
    • Wednesday 19th July: The Tour de France passes by the band's hotel in Montreux, inspiring Frederick to write a song about it.
    • July - August: Recording sessions at Mountain, including the rest of the album. Confirmed last songs added:
      • 'Fun It'.
      • 'Jealousy'.
      • 'Leaving Home Ain't Easy'.
      • 'Let Me Entertain You'.
    • August - October: Overdubs and final touches at Super Bear.
    • Friday 10th October: Lead single 'Bicycle Race' / 'Fat Bottomed Girls' released in the UK.
    • Wednesday 1st November: Lead single is certified Silver in the UK for having sold 250,000 copies.
    • Friday 10th November: Album released in the UK. That same day it's already certified Silver and Gold in that territory, for having sold £100,000 and £250,000, respectively.
    • Tuesday 28th November: Jazz is certified Gold in the USA for having amassed a million dollars in sales; that same day, it's also certified Platinum for having sold a million copies in that country.
  • 1979:
    • Friday 5th January: Sophomore single 'Don't Stop Me Now' / 'In Only Seven Days' released in the UK.
    • Tuesday 1st May: 'Don't Stop Me Now' is certified Silver in Britain for having sold 250,000 copies.
  • 2013:
    • Friday 22nd July: 'Don't Stop Me Now', having been re-issued digitally, is certified Silver in the UK for having reached 200,000 sales.
  • 2014:
    • Monday 31st March: 'Don't Stop Me Now', having been re-issued digitally, is certified Gold in America for having sold half a million copies there.
  • 2016:
    • Friday 10th June: 'Don't Stop Me Now' is certified Gold in Britain for having sold 400,000 copies. 
  • 2017:
    • Thursday 11th May: 'Don't Stop Me Now' is certified Platinum in the USA for having sold a million copies there.

Documented Recording Venues

  • Mountain Studios in Casino Barrière on 9 Theatre Road, Montreux, Vaud 1820, Swiss Confederation.
  • Super Bear Studios in Berre les Alpes, Contes, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, French Republic.

Documented Personnel

  • Performers:
    • John Deacon: Electric bass, acoustic guitar.
    • Brian May: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars.
    • Frederick Mercury: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic piano.
    • Roger Taylor: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric drums, guitars, bass (?), additional percussion.
  • Studio Crew:
    • Roy Baker: Deputy producer.
    • John Etchells: Assistant engineer.
    • Geoffrey Workman: Chief engineer.
  • Technical Crew:
    • Peter Hince: Equipment supervision.
    • Christopher Taylor: Equipment supervision.
    • Brian Zellis: Equipment supervision.

Documented Instruments

  • Acoustic Pianos:
    • Bechstein B 6' 8": Super Bear.
    • Steinway D 8' 11.75": Mountain.
  • Percussion:
    • Ludwig Bespoke Acoustic Drums.
    • Pollard Syndrum Electric Drums: 'Fun It'.
    • Premier New Era Maracas: 'More of That Jazz',.
    • Premier New Era Tambourine: 'Don't Stop Me Now'.
    • Premier New Era Triangle: 'Don't Stop Me Now'.
  • Strings:
    • BHM Bespoke Guitar: Brian's main.
    • Birch Bespoke Guitar: Brian's spare.
    • Danelectro Baritone Guitar: Brian's. He had it in the studio but probably didn't use it.
    • Fender Precision Basses: John had two, he could've used either, or both.
    • Fender Stratocaster Guitar: Possibly Roger's.
    • Guild S-300 Guitar: Roger's.
    • Hallfredh Guitar: 'Jealousy'.
    • Martin D-18 Guitar: Most likely used by John, possibly by Brian as well.
    • Music Man Stingray Bass: John admitted (in 1979) having used it in the studio, but it hasn't been confirmed where.

Documented Studio Equipment

  • Analogue Tape Recorders:
    • MCI 24-Track: Super Bear.
    • Studer A-80 24-Track: Mountain.
  • Mixing Consoles:
    • MCI JH-500: Super Bear.
    • Neve 8078: Mountain.
  • Outboard Signal Processors:
    • dbx II Noise Reduction: Super Bear.
    • dbx RM-160 Limiter: Super Bear.
    • Dolby Noise Reduction: Super Bear.
    • EMT 140 Plate Reverb: Super Bear.
    • Eventide DDL-1745 Delay: Super Bear.
    • Eventide H-910 Harmoniser: Super Bear.
    • Marshall 5402 Time Modulator: Super Bear.
    • UREI 1176 Limiter: Super Bear.

Myths, Legends & Ongoing Debates

  • Brian's Pet Peeve: It's almost a cliché amongst Queen circles that Brian hated 'Don't Stop Me Now'. The legend seemed to have originated from Roger's sarcastic remark on the Greatest Video Hits audio commentary. Brian debunked it and confirmed he did like the song, but he was wary of what it represented in terms of Frederick leading a hedonistic lifestyle.
  • Ownership Timeline: Because Queen owned Mountain Studios for a big chunk of their career, some people tend to think they bought the studios and then they recorded part of Jazz there. Not quite: back in 1978 they were merely clients looking for new places to record while being tax exiles. They liked the place and returned in 1979 to work on Live Killers, and that's when they found out they were for sale and placed their bid.