Friday, August 27, 2004

Queen In Iran

Just read this interesting piece, also on Middle East Online (like the last two entries, sorry but have lots of work here, so little time to do some extensive surfing today I'm afraid), on Queen being the first 'official' rock band to market their music, with approval of the Mullahs.

I did not know that Freddy Mercury was Iranian, but I just had to ask myself how he would have felt to sell his music in Iran with the Mullahs' blessing.

TEHRAN - Rock band Queen, fronted by outlandish gay icon Freddie Mercury, have become the first rock band to be given the official seal of approval in Iran with the release of an album of their greatest hits, a source in the company that released the album said Monday.

Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991, was proud of his Iranian ancestry and supposed Zoroastrian origins, which made Queen one of the most popular bands in Iran, but western music is largely frowned upon in the Islamic republic, where homosexuality is considered a crime.

"Authorities approved of the tunes that had a social theme, leaving out the love songs," an executive in the company said.

The album contains smash hits such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Miracle" and "I Want to Break Free".

Western music is strictly censored in Iran and those selling foreign music need special permits, although millions of bootlegged banned CDs and cassettes are sold on the black market throughout the country.

The album is already selling very well. "It is the first rock album to hit the market legally and people are surprised and pleased to see it has the lyrics, not just the music," said Akbar Safari, a salesman at a Tehran book and record store.
I mean, for God's sake, the guy was maybe the biggest flamer in music, and homosexuality is considered a crime in Iran and carries the death penalty. Guess his surviving band members saw a way to cash in quick, now that he's dead.

I never was a fan, and didn't particularly support Mercury's 'in your face' -ahem- behavior. Let's just hope that something good will come of it, and that Iran's Rock fans will crave for more and more, until the Mullahs take it away from them again. And then maybe someone will say 'No More'.

We will rock you, indeed.