'Killer Queen' Photography Exhibit Showcases Neal Preston's Photos Of Queen
At the Morrison Hotel Gallery in West Hollywood, photos are displayed of one of the greatest music icons: Freddie Mercury from Queen. This is just in time for the release of the highly anticipated Bohemian Rhapsody biopic that documents how Queen rose to stardom. The exhibit features images captured by legendary rock photograoher Neal Preston.
I asked him how it all began...
Neal: I ended up meeting a couple of people who turned out to be concert promoters for the local concert series near where I was from. I’m from Forest Hills, New York. And I started meeting people and started going to their shows and getting backstage passes. I mean I was still in high school. I was 16 and a half when I started shooting for real you know when I started shooting quote unquote seriously. I never made the decision to to become a photographer I just did. And I've never had another job in my life since.
Isel: You also started touring with a bunch of bands like what was that like?
Neal: Oh God. It was.. It felt really natural to me. My dad was a stage manager on Broadway and he was the original stage manager for big musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Camelot , King and I, kind of the golden era of Broadway musicals. So to this day anytime I’m backstage I feel like I'm at home or I'm going to see my dad, so theater was in my blood and as far as traveling with rock bands it was just, it just, again it all made sense to me. I mean I never really stopped and pinched myself and went Oh my God I can't believe where I am because I was too busy doing what I'm supposed to be doing which was working.
Isel: Was it ever stressful and did you ever feel the pressure of having to you capture all these iconic figures?
Neal: Yes. In fact it's always stressful and I wrote a book that came out last year. It’s called Exhilarated and Exhausted, which to this day is how I feel every day of my life and the text I wrote for the book is all about the stresses, the 48- year case of jet lag that never dissipates everyone thinks it's a glamour job, far from it.
Isel: Yeah, I can imagine. Your photographs have appeared in every conceivable media outlet. Has that changed your life? And if so, how?
Neal: I don't think it's really changed my life. It's. What's different is that I've I've noticed that people notice me or recognize me or certainly recognize some of the pictures that I've shot. I never imagined that any of this would happen ever and a million trillion years. I'm the same person that I would be if I would have been a fireman or a bricklayer, a stage manager or a hotel concierge.
Isel: With the film about Queen coming out, what sort of relevance do you think it has, in this particular time we’re living in?
Neal: That's a good question. I don't know, other than the fact that it's about time someone did a movie about Freddie in particular. Other than that I'm not sure of the relevance you know hopefully it will be really entertaining and hopefully it'll be you know one tenth of one percent as entertaining as the band was and still is I must say.
Isel: Do you have a favorite memory of touring with Queen? Or of Freddie?
Neal: I've got lots of favorite memories none of which I'm going to let you broadcast. Sorry Inland Empire but you're going to have to live without it.
The 'Killer Queen' exhibit features photography from Neal Preston, Mick Rock, and a few others. The exhibit is open to the public until November 10th.