Freddie Mercury’s mum discusses Bohemian Rhapsody in 2004

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As Freddie Mercury and Queen focused on being successful in the UK and US during the early 1970s, they soon discovered that they had a huge fan base in Japan. This week’s official episode of Queen the Greatest looks back at the band’s first time performing in the Asian country and how Brian May ended up writing Teo Torriatte, which contains two choruses sung in Japanese.

Queen first embarked on an eight-night tour of Japan back in April 1975, with their very first concert in the country taking place at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan.

But little did they know what lay in store for them on arrival at the airport, let alone the arena dedicated to martial arts and concerts.

In an unearthed interview, Roger Taylor said: “We knew there was sort of demand for us there and so we tagged it on to the end of an American tour. 

“We had a holiday in Hawaii and then it was, sort of, logical, so we went there.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/9H6e4jkExQo

Roger continued: “We arrived at the airport and suddenly realised it was on a scale different to that which we’d imagined – there were thousands of people there, just to welcome us. 

“Normally you just don’t get that sort of thing anywhere.”

Record Company Exec, Promoter and long-term friend of Queen, Kaz Utsunomiya, recalled the band’s incredible arrival in Japan.

He said: “I don’t think anyone really guessed that three thousand people would turn up at the airport.”

Kaz continued: “Anyone who turned up at the airport would think that this is like, the second coming of The Beatles.

“In those days the rock group band was mainly supported by the male audience.

“But then the fact that Music Life [magazine] put in Queen pictures opened up a whole new world with female fans, and caught Japanese fans in both genders, male and female.”

This newly formed bond with Japan then inspired Brian to write Teo Torriatte, which featured on Queen’s 1976 album, A Day At The Races.

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Kaz said: “They never expected the band to come up with a song like Teo Torriatte, which is mainly for the Japanese market.

“The band has different songs for all over the world, but I think Teo Torriatte you can only listen to them doing that in Japan.”

Queen continued to regularly tour Japan right up until 1985 and would always embrace a unique approach to their performances there.

He continued: “In the early days we toured different cities all over Japan. So we’d go to Sapporo in Hokkaido which is in the northern part of Japan, and we would go to Sendai in the southern part and it was really interesting because not that many bands used to tour all round Japan.”

Adam Lambert sings Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen in Sydney

Kaz added: “A lot of international bands come to Japan, they go to Tokyo and Osaka. 

“A lot of people never had the chance of seeing the international bands in the cities outside of Tokyo and Osaka, which [Queen] did and which made them bigger and a very unique international act in Japan.

“I think that also helped the band understand the Japanese culture, Japanese history, and the Japanese fans.”

Next week’s Queen the Greatest will look at Part 2 of the band in Japan. Check out previous episodes here.

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