Charlene's Reviews > Queen Unseen: My Life with the Greatest Rock Band of the 20th Century

Queen Unseen by Peter Hince
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did not like it
bookshelves: biography, authors-who-want-to-make-a-buck

So many red flags in this book. The first thing I noticed was that in the acknowledgment section, the author thanks an incredible number of people, some of which are famous musicians, but none of which are members of Queen. The second thing was that the author pretty much set a tone from the very beginning. Freddie is a hot headed, far-to-often-drinking, attention whore and drama Queen, while the author is level headed and has the job of trying to make things go smoothly to avoid Tantrum-throwing Freddie's wrath. As I read on, it became clear the real star of Queen was not Freddie, Brian (who was hands down my favorite musician of all time since the age of 9 years old), John, or Roger. The star is... you guessed it, this author.

I have no problem with people writing about their experiences with famous people. Indeed, this is why I read the book. I saw that it was written by a legit source close to the band. What I don't enjoy is when people write about their experiences with famous people to explicitly gain notoriety because of their proximity to the famous person. I would have better enjoyed a tone that was reflective (both self reflective and deeply reflective of the experiences with members of the band), intuitive, and informative. I am happy to hear about Freddie's tantrums. In fact, the idea of flamboyantly dressed Freddie throwing some tantrums about his music sounds fascinating to learn about. It was the way this author went about it that seemed less than fair. Freddie isn't even alive to speak for himself. Luckily though, people like Brian May and others, who really knew Freddie are alive to give a more balanced and thoughtful account. I have seen Brian talk about Freddie. His goal has never been to expose him in some way. While I think Brian tries to protect and honor Freddie's memory, and could probably be more forthcoming with the tantrum -throwing side of Freddie (I hear that side of Freddie is not in the movie but have yet to see it for myself), I think trying to out Freddie, the way this author does, isn't really giving the reader a lens into the lives of any of the band members in any meaningful way.

It would be one thing if the author decided to do a tell all, in which he told all equally. However, he magnified negative traits of Freddie and minimized, explained away, or completely normalized his own negative traits, traits that become glaring obvious page after page. The words on those pages make it painfully clear that he is a misogynist. The 70s and 80s were a different time. It would be almost understandable if he made statements then about women, and realized now how inappropriate they really are. He seems fully capable of calling out Freddie's bad behavior but when he talks about himself, he just reveals himself to be a self-absorbed, arrogant, shallow person. In order to get any nugget of interesting info about the band, you have to sit through his incessant goings on.

At one point, after reading 3/4 of the book, I felt certain the members of Queen could not possibly tolerate this guy and was compelled to investigate online. Brian May called him a, "disgruntled ex-roadie who had a warped view of the band." Indeed!

As if the book itself were not bad enough, if you listen to it in audio version, as I did, you will find that they chose a narrator who made the unfortunate choice to use extremely negative stereotyping for his voices of black people. I am on the prowl for a much more definitive book on Queen.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 9, 2018 – Shelved
November 9, 2018 – Shelved as: biography
November 9, 2018 – Shelved as: authors-who-want-to-make-a-buck
November 9, 2018 – Finished Reading

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Michael Schearer In the acknowledgements, he specifically says, "Apart from Queen and the obvious friends and family..." "Apart" here clearly meaning "in addition to." So yes while he doesn't mention them specifically by name, he makes reference to and acknowledges the band right up front.


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