26th Annual Fan Club Queen Convention

26th International Queen Fan Club Convention – Friday 25th-Monday 28th March 2001 – Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Words QUEEN fans know deep etched into their minds. Real life and fantasy were part of this year annual gathering of QUEEN fans from all over the place.  Oh we do like to be beside the seaside and a return to Great Yarmouth.

The staff at Vauxhall Holiday Park were ready and waiting for the first arrivals to the site as they knew what to expect as this was our 2nd year there. Registration quick and with programme in hand with caravan key off you went to find your home for the next three nights. Quiz sheets were also handed out (thanks to BARRY ATKINSON for doing these – fun to do!) Then time to head for the V Lounge to join in the happy throng. The QUEEN JUKEBOX was well underway and the big screen constantly showing QUEEN videos all afternoon. The joy on peoples faces is a sight to behold – greeting one another – there really is a special atmosphere created this weekend. Like a special family atmosphere.

Friday evenings proceedings kicked off with a welcome return for WAYNE PLANT and his karaoke session. NEIL CAMERON, Arenas weekend compere for the event read out the usual health and safety rules. A big cheer could be heard when he welcomed to the stage the QUEEN Fan Clubs head lady JACKY SMITH. Jacky welcomed everybody to this 26th annual convention and thanked everyone for supporting the event. Jacky showed a message from BRIAN MAY who kindly took time out of his busy schedule to record the video message especially for the conventioneers. Excellent message talking about current happenings, re-releases, the recent exhibition and the forthcoming tour he is doing with Kerry Ellis. ROGER TAYLOR sent along a new track he had recorded,  I’m A Drummer In A Rock N Roll Band blasted out the speakers. Cheers Roger for sending this, you made everybody Smile.

Also premiered was the new Save The Queen Fan Club single by QUEENIES UNITED – Where Else was played and the video shown. A huge thank you must go to BRETT LINFORTH and everybody else who helped make the song. So much effort was put into this and copies of the CD were made available to buy with all profits going to Queen Fan Club. There were also special badges on sale, so thanks to KESTER and EMILY WESTCOTT for making them available.

This first live band of the weekend was introduced by JIM JENKINS. The band which formed at last years convention to take part in the Jam Session played at the Fan Clubs Liverpool Cavern anniversary weekend last October and went down a storm and Jacky invited them to play the convention. There was a huge cheer for BELLADONIC HAZE. Many thanks to BEN SAUNDERS, NEIL JENKINS,  MARC HUDSON and DEAN EVANS for playing excellent Roger Taylor/The Cross/Smile and Queen songs. They gave a rock n roll performance. Well done to them! Think their faces when they took their well deserved bows said it all!

The first QUEEN PARTY TIME DISCO finished off the night with the dance floor full. A good mixture of songs, including some old live QUEEN performances such as I’m A Man, Big Spender and Jailhouse Rock went down a delight. Over in the V Lounge we had QUEEN LIVE IN HOUSTON 77 on the big screen.

Saturday morning and many with sore heads (all because of “convention water”) and you could see what was on offer in the MARKET PLACE in the Regency Room and go to the V Lounge to see the ARTS AND CRAFTS entries for this year. Well done to TERRANCE WOOLLARD this years winner.

COLLECTORS CORNER was underway with Jim and the invaluable help of ANDREAS VOIGTS and PAUL BIRD (thanks for helping out guys). There were some real collectables on show and some went on sale! Then there was a power-cut and we were all asked to leave the room -  everybody out! Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long until we were all called back inside. (Thanks to everyone for leaving peacefully and quickly which helped the Security guys to act efficiently. Thanks to Dave, Paul, Bob and Dean). Thanks must go to ROB VERDOORN for donating many wooden carved single/album covers which he donated for funds towards the Fan Club. Also thanks to Rob for his raffle donations.

There was a special fan club stall selling goodies and many thanks to VAL MOSS for being with us once again. Also a stall set up by fans who had made cakes with recipes from the new fan club booklet!   Thanks to MICK HOOLE, FRANK TUNNEY and of course AMEY TUNNEY for putting the project together. (Copies of the book are still available – there is a famous apple cake you could try out).

Then we had a QUESTION TIME with Jacky and Jim, authors of AS IT BEGAN. Both answered questions on how their interest in QUEEN started and became a passion.

A film was shown of the STORMTROOPERS IN STILETTOS exhibition which was filmed and edited by JENNY HODGE who took us through all the rooms of the Trueman Brewery which hosted the mega successful QUEEN exhibition. No wonder over 20,000 people went to see it – it was BRILLIANT! (Thanks Jenny for the filming).

Jacky informed of a future Fan Club event to be held on Friday 25th November 2011 in London in conjunction with Maureen Barclay of MPT. Tickets were on sale this weekend. Thanks to DEBORAH ROBY and ALLISON McCAFFERTY for their help in selling them!

The weekends first GUEST INTERVIEW followed and PETER and WENDY EDMONDS were welcomed to the stage. Both were around from the early years. Peter went to school with Brian. (Peters is one of the names mentioned on the cover of Queens debut album).  Both told some wonderful stories of their time around Smile, Ibex, Wreckage and of course Queen! Peter became Smiles first roadie and he confirmed he really did sell his MG car to buy a van so he could lug all the equipment around. Peter worked with Queen on the Magic Tour and is once again working with Brian at the Royal Albert Hall in May.  Wendy designed clothes for Freddie to sell at Kensington Market and is also the designer of the iconic winged costume as seen in the BO RHAP video and on the bands OPERA tours. Wendy made a replica suit for the SIS Exhibition. There were some excellent stories to hear from both. In fact, Peter met up with Roger and Brian at the Fender Strat 50th Anniversary Show. It’s guests like these that make the conventions that extra bit special. We’re very lucky that people come along to join in and share part of their lives with us and you can tell during the interviews it is very special to them. Thanks for the memories Peter and Wendy.

One of the highlights of these conventions is the appearance of GREG BROOKS. As everyone knows he will have some unique audio or visual on offer. After the success of last years film clips, Greg with the help of GARY TAYLOR, had put together some amazing outtakes from video shoots and some previously unseen  live footage from the Rainbow 1974 concert and it went down extremely well. It gives a fascinating insight into QUEEN at work. We showed QUEEN AT LIVE AID, THE CROSS AT MELTDOWN and QUEEN LIVE IN EARLS COURT in the V Lounge.

Our next Guest Interview was someone was someone who brings QUEEN into the 21st Century and the man behind QUEENONLINE. Mr. NICK WEYMOUTH was welcomed to the stage. It was very interesting to hear his thoughts on modern technology and the wonder that is the internet. It is an important tool to promote the worldwide phenomenon that is QUEEN. The band work alongside Nick and come up with ideas to make the site interesting. Universal, Jim Beach and QUEEN are all demanding and expect the website to constantly change and inform to keep people interested in the band. Queenonline is here for Queen fans to embrace and enjoy. Nick talked about future plans so it’s well worth checking out this website. Cheers Nick for threatening to come these past years and this year actually joining us.

The Saturday interviews came to an end with a flashback to the 70s and a part of Queens history. In the summer of 1975 Freddie went along to see a Birmingham singer/songwriter at an album launch gig. EDDIE HOWELL was the man and during the set announced he had just written a new song which wasn’t recorded The Man From Manhattan. Freddie offered to produce the song for him and eventually played piano and added backing vocals and brought in the talented Brian May to play guitar!! Eddie spoke highly of Freddie's attitude to the recording and he put as much effort into it as if it were a QUEEN song. There were some great stories of preparing for the song in Freddie's flat on his newly acquired piano and tales from the studio itself. Sadly the musicians union banned the song and it faded away by chains of a cast-iron red tape and never became the hit it deserved to be in the UK, although the song was a hit in other territories. It is a most highly collectable track. Eddie talked of his musical career and the highs and lows of the music business. It was a superb interview. Thanks Eddie.

The CHARITY AUCTION raised thousands of pounds for charity and there were some collectable items on offer, many personal items belonging to the band as well as autographed items. Thanks to JIM STEVENSON for his donations. Thanks to everybody who bought an item.

The evening started with a special JUNIOR DISCO so all the youngsters who were attending could have their own dance. (Laws of the park prevent children from being on the dance floor late evening). Many children took part in the CHILDREN'S FANCY DRESS COMPETITION. Harry Potter doppelganger won - EMILY KNIGHT (yes Harry was a girl!)

Following this was the ADULT FANTASY FANCY DRESS COMPETITION. There were so many entrants that the judges had to go amongst them to pick the finalists. The winner was SHEILA SYNOTT dressed as the Star Fleet Robot!

Two live bands were scheduled for rock n roll on a Saturday night! First up was THE LAYZEE MAYBEES who gave a solid performance. They received a good reception. The headliners for the evening was a welcome return to one of the most popular Queen cover bands across the globe! DIOS SALVE A LA REINA took the convention by storm! What a show! The lead singer Pablo has an uncanny resemblance to Freddie and at times it really does look like Mr Mercury is back on stage! They performed music from all of Queens history including their first mega opus The March Of The Black Queen in its entirety. Some fans were in tears with this and shows how remarkable this band perform these well loved songs – to Queens most hardcore of fans! Genius indeed! For over two and half hours and 29 songs they rocked and the applause showed the appreciation from everyone there. Argentina must be proud of this band! It was one of their best performances ever!

The evening concluded with a special PARTY VIDEO DISCO. Many thanks must go to KAREL LEHNER for arranging this – it was simply superb!! In the V Lounge we had an alternative rock night for those that wanted it!

Sunday morning – and the clocks had gone forward in the UK so hope nobody missed WE WILL ROCK YOU-THE MUSICAL. It is evident why this musical extravaganza continues to dominate the major stages of the word! QUEEN AT HYDE PARK 76 was shown in the V Lounge and it was good to see the biggest ever UK attendance gig on the big screen.

The QUEEN Fan Club is the longest in history and the first two GUEST INTERVIEWS of the day were past fan club secretaries. First for our Fan Club Years section was THERESE PICKARD who had to take over the running of the club from the original fan club ladies Pat and Sue Johnstone (who sadly couldn’t attend this years event). Therese took a trip down memory lane as she recalled bringing the fan club into the 20th Century and putting all fan club details onto a computer for the first time! She talked about the growth of the fan club and meeting the fans and how special her job was and deep down she never really wanted to leave. (Cries of “I’m glad you did” could be heard from side of the stage – yes Jacky Smith thinking aloud ha ha).  Therese started the international Fan Clubs in Holland, Spain and Japan and brought in many people to help her out at the London Office including her brother Kipps, who was also in attendance at the convention. (Kipps commented it brought back many happy memories of his time working for Queen). Therese talked about how Brian encouraged a new style of Newsletter which evolved into the magazines we love today. Chasing the band member to write a letter to be included in the magazine was always fun to pin them down to write. Christmas 79 the third Fan Club secretary, Amanda Bloom left and from January 1980 the club saw VICTORIA FARMER (nee Vicky Everett) take over as head lady. Vic remembered her time working for Queen. Vicky was a fan of the band and can be seen in the We Are The Champions video. She recalled of being a fan then to an employee. Memories brought back her first car which had a registration plate of JRD! Vic also helped organise the very first fan club convention – a one day affair in London! Therese and Vic talked about parties they attended and gigs. Therese was in the sound desk area for Hyde Park. Both attended the SIS exhibition and thought it brought back to many happy memories and they were thrilled to be asked to join us at this years convention. It was a pleasure to see them. Thank you both for coming along.

CHRIS ‘CRYSTAL’ TAYLOR and PETER ‘FEEBIE’ FREESTONE were also at the convention but this year there was no time to interview either but they were happy to answer any questions and pose for photographs.

The TEAM 4 CHALLENGE QUIZ took place and a revisited performance from the Queen Archivists due to the numbers wanting to watch. Once again the QUEEN ARCHIVIST SESSION delighted everybody. Thanks to Greg and Gary for bringing along these pure gems.

The next GUEST INTERVIEW was something a bit different. Dr RUPERT WHITE gave a presentation on QUEEN IN CORNWALL. Rupert is in the process of writing a book and has heavily researched Rogers time in Cornwall and how Queens popularity started and broke through in the area. He showed photographs of Roger as a young boy to the delight of many. From school photos to him playing drums in his bands Cousin Jacks, Beat Unlimited, The Reaction and of course Queen, He showed photos of venues Queen played on the bands first ever tour of the Cornwall area back in 1971 with now permanent bass player JOHN DEACON. Some still stand and haven’t changed in the 40 years! This was most excellent. It was clearly seen why Roger became the legendary drummer of Cornwall! We saw the Driftwood Spars pub in which Queen played in August 1971. The Queen Fan Club are holding a special event in St Agnes to commemorate Queens legendary performance at the Driftwood Spars pub on 6th August 2011 and will be well worth an attendance. Many of these photos and much more will be published in the forthcoming book ‘QUEEN IN CORNWALL’ and can be seen on www.queenincornwall.blogspot.com website – take a look at a piece of history!

The final interview for this years convention carried on with the them of The Cornwall Years. We were lucky to have with us RICKY PENROSE who was one of the bass players in Rogers band The Reaction. Rick could now talk about some of things Rupert had shown us in his presentation. It was more than interesting to hear Ricks stories of days gone by of our favourite drummer! Some funny stories such as naked women running around the garden at lodgings he was in with Roger and a sad one about a road traffic accident in which Roger was thrown through the windscreen of a van and also Peter Gill-Carey who was in hospital for a year. Rick was suffering from glass all over his body and Mike Grose took over playing bass for a couple of weeks whilst Rick recovered. Mike of course went on to be Queens first bass player. We also heard Roger taking lead vocals and playing drums for The Reaction and a song from The 3 Jays – with Rogers then girlfriend Jo Johnson on lead vocals. Big thanks to both Rupert and Rick for coming along.

A relaxing Sunday afternoon came to an end with an impromptu appearance by the one and only JAMIE MOSES. Jamie chatted, answered questions, played guitar and sang a couple of songs to the thrill of the audience. He is always a welcomed guest at the conventions and a delight. Cheers Jamie.

In the V Lounge we had this years ALPHABET GAME. Fans picked a letter then had to name a Queen or solo song beginning with that letter. It is not as easy as it looks folks. This years winner was the same as last year so congrats to SARAH WATKINS.

The fans choice ULTIMATE CONCERT was shown on the screen in the V Lounge.

Sunday evening already and the third nights activities of the 2011 convention began with the PRIZE PRESENTATION. Jacky awarded medals and signed certificates by Brian and Roger to all the winners. Sports competitions had also been held over the weekend, so Pool, Darts, Snooker, Golf and 5-a-side Football winners proved who were the champions!! This years photographer GRAHAM LONGWORTH snapped away to record the triumphant achievements. We awarded this years BEST DECORATED CARAVAN WINDOWS to caravan number 92 ELAINE JONES.

We had two RAFFLES. Many thanks to KEVIN and LINDA MAHER for selling tickets. The Fan Club raffle which had many different prizes including the Crest Stamp and stamp-pad from the Exhibition Launch Party which guests had a 40th anniversary Crest stamped onto their hands! Thanks to RUTH PARRISH from Universal for these items.  We also had our annual raffle for the M.P.T. A presentation was made to MAUREEN BARCLAY from THILO RAHN of a 1,000 Euros cheque in aid of MPT from sales of the ROCKMOS – Queen and Paul Rodgers picture book. The crowd cheered! Special thanks to Thilo for all his hard work.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW FANCY DRESS COMPETITION was the final competition of the weekend. Once again the number of excellent entries was incredible – a very high standard indeed, The judges once again had to go amongst the crowds on the dance floor to choose this years finalists. The winner was JOHN DAVIES dressed as no other than Dr Frank N Furter! He received the biggest cheer and the attendees once again acted as our clap-o-meter and Arenas own CHERYL DUKE kept score. Well done to everybody who won – they all deserved the applause.

Two more bands were to greet everybody for the evenings entertainment.

A welcome return from Holland were ROCK 4. This vocal harmony group have to be seen and heard to be believed. They are amazing and gave a strong powerful performance! Innuendo, The Prophets Song and The Show Must Go On and along with a duet with Freddie on Killer Queen were some of the highlights. Wow! Incredible.

Brian's video message was repeated and Roger's song played again to the whoops and delight of the crowd!

Neil thanked everybody for their behaviour and conduct and mentioned the top man from Arena ALI NAQVI had been in attendance and thought everybody so friendly, polite and well behaved and this created a special atmosphere! Such praise indeed. We can be proud! Jacky and Jim spoke words and commented how fantastic a weekend it had been and thanked everybody for coming along and to all the guests for sharing their time with us. Jacky informed next year's convention WOULD happen! Big cheers for that comment!

The 5th and final band were a band who graced the stage at last years convention and welcomed back. Germany can be proud of the excellent QUEENKINGS. Once again they shone and showed why they are so popular. The Barcelona songs received big cheers.

The third and final QUEEN DISCO PARTY TIME went down extremely well and the dance floor stayed full throughout. The eclectic mixture of music is what the conventioneers are accustomed to!

Monday morning and everybody headed home, exhausted and elated at such an amazing weekend. Anyone ready to do it all again in 2012? Plans are already underway to bring you a highlight of the year that the convention has become. Who’s for more fantasy? Beats the real life any day!

Jim Jenkins

www.queenworld.com

 

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26th Annual Fan Club Queen Convention

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