Queen’s first concert in Japan. The audience was all young girls, so I wasn’t worried to be right in front. But they rushed the stage — my camera and glasses were swept away — a girl fell right onto me. I had to save another from falling into the pit. Freddie Mercury wouldn’t allow photos unless we set up a time, but during that one hour he would pose however I asked. Backstage Freddie had his own room. We see, Freddie Mercury, then aged 29, sitting with the other band members, accompanied by women dressed in kimono, around the edge of Tokyo Tower.
In other photos, we see them trying their hand at kendama, a traditional Japanese game.”
– Koh Hasebe (Photographer)
In spring 1975, Freddie Mercury and his band Queen discovered Japan. They had just released their album Sheer Heart Attack, and were performing in concert at Nippon Budokan, an arena dedicated to martial arts and concerts.
Photographer Koh Hasebe was sent by the magazine Music Life, a pioneering Japanese publication on western music, to take photos of the band, but managed to gain Freddie Mercury’s permission to photograph the band in the heart of Tokyo.
Over the next ten years, Queen would visit Japan six times and remained as the favourite group of the readers of Music Life. The band even paid homage to the Japanese public in one of their songs, “Teo Torriatte”, on the album A Day At The Races, released in 1976.
The song contains two choruses sung in Japanese, to thank fans for welcoming them during their first tour to Japan.
All photos were taken by Koh Hasebe