"Later, when he finally gave up drugs, Freddie appeared in Spain to perform in a spectacular to mark the run-up to the Barcelona Olympics.
Without coke, his nerve failed and he ended up by miming his hit song Barcelona.
A technical hitch made the tape play slowly and he and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballe failed to synchronise.
It was an embarrassing last public performance for one of rock's legendary showmen." link
Is there any truth to this whatsoever, or is this just sensationalizing and revisionist history?
I don't remember seeing a video of the song playing back slowly. I thought they just mimed it because it was just yet another show that gets mimed ... ?
I recall stories of the tape speed, but surely they would have been able to hear it and adjust their miming accordingly? I would be surprised if Freddie was still taking coke - especially prior to performing - when he knew of his illness at that point.
The tape speed issue was well known. I remember discussions around it when the Freddie boxed set came out.
If you look closely you'll see the video cuts quite frequently so that the effect is not as noticeable.
Freddie and Montsy were still great, though.
I found some time ago in youtube the footage from original broadcast of La Nit, via TV3 (local tv):
The Golden Boy and How Can I Go On: link
Barcelona and the end of the show: link
In all songs you can hear the tape running at slow speed, especially in The Golden Boy. They fixed it when they put these videos on the FM DVD
It was only a semitone lower (or perhaps, the tiniest bit lower than that), but tempo-wise it seems slower still, oddly.
Yep, it's a semitone.
And that's analog tape for you - if you slow it down, both pitch and speed are affected. You can only separate the two digitally.
Not sure if the bit about analogue tape was specifically addressed at me or not, but I'm well aware of that, and possibly wasn't particularly clear. I meant that - particularly on TGB - the tempo feels even slower than it should be if it was only lowered/decreased by a semitone.
Not that it really matters!
This is why as a former sound guy; you MUST call up the stagers and staffers to determine what's being used. Even though it was mimed...this couldn't have gone much worse for the "performers" unless it sped up like Milli Vanilli...or warped
This must be what quaaludes were like