Integrity, Class, Erotica: What It Was Like to Open for Queen
A member of the ‘80s rock band Zeno recalled the “professional” and “accommodating” experience of opening for Queen in the ‘80s, before later partying with them at an extravagant after-show event.
Larry Dvoskin played keyboards in a lineup that included Uli Jon Roth’s guitarist brother Zeno Roth and acclaimed drummer Rod Morgenstein. They were the first band to play at Queen’s soccer stadium performance in July 1986 at Newcastle, England.
“The show was somewhat of a disaster for us, as our road crew stopped at every pub along the motorway … so they failed to appear with our equipment,” Dvoskin told Billboard. “Thankfully, the Queen roadies were so professional and accommodating they allowed us to use much of their ‘headliner’ backline equipment – drums, amps, etc.”
He recalled his first encounter with Brian May came when the guitarist apologized for not having seen Zeno play. “I thought to myself, ‘What is he, nuts? We went on at 12 noon, he goes on at 8PM. Why on earth would the headliner care about the least important band?’" Dvoskin said. "But that [gave] me my first impression of the integrity and class surrounding the Queen family. It’s top-down management and Brian wanted me to know that every band opening for them, every musician sharing the stage was family, was important.”
Dvoskin went on to recount a “brilliant” Queen performance before sharing his memory of the party three nights later in a private London club. “A beautiful girl operated the elevator in one of those vintage elevator-operator outfits you’d see in an old Hollywood movie.” he said. “[W]e suddenly realized the girl was naked. The outfit was body paint, perfectly done from head to toe. This was the first of many surprises over the course of a wild-and-crazy evening. As we entered the party, we noticed several large glass terrarium-like structures which appeared to have giant writhing snakes in them, that upon closer inspection were naked men and women wrapped in exotic and erotic performance art poses.”
His warmest memory, however, was having the opportunity to jam alongside members of Queen. “I was invited up to play keyboards with a rotating all-star jam band. Freddie [Mercury] sang, Roger Taylor … on drums, and I believe – the events are a little fuzzy – John Entwistle of the Who on bass, or was it Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones on bass? You get the idea," Dvoskin said. "We did the corniest of cover tunes – ‘Knock on Wood’ with Samantha Fox, a former topless model singing a duet with Freddie. The whole thing was uproarious.”
Dvoskin remains an active musician and is helping develop a new music platform called Pindify, which seeks to help artists create a profitable marketplace their work. “It used to be easier for musicians to make a living than it is now, yet it is still possible to live your dreams,” he argued. “I am the living example. From driving around Dumont, N.J., smoking pot and listening to Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack album to having the honor, even for one special night, to play music and share the stage with Freddie and Brian. ... As the lyrics to ‘Over the Rainbow’ simply state, ‘the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true.’”