May 3, 1974:
The British invaded Wilkes-Barre on the first Friday of May, not with soldiers donning red coats and muskets but rather with men armed with guitars and hair spray.
The gymnasium at King’s College was the site of the invasion, where close to 4,000 people heard the glam rock band Mott the Hoople and its opening act — Queen.
Queen — comprised of lead singer and pianist Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon — was on its first tour of the United States, done in support of the band’s second album, “Queen II.” During its set, Queen performed songs from the album such as “White Queen,” “Father to Son” and “Hangman.” It also did a few covers, including Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.”
Mott the Hoople hit the stage with such songs as “The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “All the Way from Memphis” and “All the Young Dudes.” David Bowie penned “Dudes” for the group in 1972 after it passed an another Bowie tune, Suffragette City.”
Tickets for the show cost $6 in advance and $6.50 at the door. Proceeds benefited the American Cancer Society.
Several days after Queen’s appearance in Wilkes-Barre, the band had to cancel the rest of its tour dates because May was hospitalized with hepatitis. According to a July 2014 Rolling Stone article, May almost lost his arm after an ulcer developed and it became gangrenous.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast