Queen arrive in South Africa October 1984 for their 9 sold-out performances at the Sun City Super Bowel beginning October 5 – 20th, 1984 – “The Works Tour”
Queen played a run of shows at Sun City, the entertainment complex located in Bophutswana, one of 10 South African Bantustans: tracts of low-quality land supposedly enshrined as independent black homelands that were in fact one of the struts of the apartheid regime. They amounted to parched rural ghettoes; the fact that the Sun City complex – a casino-and-golf resort, akin to an Afrikaner’s Las Vegas – was located in one of them only underlined their cynically conceived place in the apartheid scheme.
Due to the apartheid policy of South Africa the United Nations requested entertainers to boycott the country and the Britain’s Musicians’ Union banned any of its members from performing in Sun City. Queen played anyway, despite the controversy
“We’ve thought a lot about the morals of it a lot,” claimed Brian May at the time, “and it is something we’ve decided to do. The band is not political – we play to anybody who wants to come and listen.” “Throughout our career we’ve been a very non-political group,” said bassist John Deacon. “We enjoy going to new places. We’ve toured America and Europe so many times that it’s nice to go somewhere different … I know there can be a bit of fuss, but apparently we’re very popular down there … Basically, we want to play wherever fans want to see us.”
Queen were swiftly fined by the British Musicians’ Union, and briefly turned into music press pariahs. They were not alone: the likes of Rod Stewart and Status Quo also played Sun City, easing their consciences by making donations to local charities. Queen were no exception: they attempted to make up for the breaking of the cultural boycott by donating to a school for the deaf and blind. It didn’t wash: the UN stuck them on its list of blacklisted artists, where they remained until apartheid was finally dismantled.