How Queen Rescued Kansas From a Lousy Opening Spot
Kansas drummer Phil Ehart says supporting Queen on the British band’s first world tour in 1974 was pretty miserable - until an honest conversation prompted Brian May to set things right.
As Queen hit the road to promote their third album, Sheer Heart Attack, Kansas were one of the bands chosen to open for them. However, they were dubious about the experience during its early days, as Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“The Queen tour was spectacular,” Ehart said. “It made a real impression upon us because we didn’t even know a lot about Queen. We had to go buy Sheer Heart Attack – it isn’t like we were big Queen fans. When Richard saw the cover he said: ‘We’re not going to get along’…” That turned out not to be the case. “They were great,” Williams said. “We learned a lot about pacing a set, and they were such great guys to travel with.”
“But we did have a bit of trouble because they wouldn’t give us any stage space,” Ehart admitted. “We had five feet of stage space. They would give us no lights – all we got were the spotlights. So when we came out we’d just have three or four Super Troupers on us; there was no good lighting or anything. And no encore.
“So, one day, about a week or two into the tour, Brian May came into our dressing room. He said, ‘How’s everything going? It’s really great to have you guys on the tour.’ I said, ‘Well, do you really want to know how it’s going?’ He goes, ‘Well, yeah.’ I said, ‘Well, this sucks!’ Tomorrow we’re going to play Kansas City, and you guys aren’t going to give us an encore… And no lighting…’”
May asked for more information and Ehart told him, “Sit down.” He continued: “And the next day it all changed – the whole thing changed. It was management and the band had no idea. So they became very nice, and like Rick said, to this day they’re still friends.”
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