BRANDON FOUNTAIN: Rock’s royalty serves up more fun
As a father with a son on the autism spectrum, I’m well-aware of his distinct likes (Thomas the Train, Christmas lights and buses), dislikes (a lot), some of his meltdown triggers, must-have foods (peppers and pickles), must-have drinks (strawberry or chocolate milk) and the importance of routines.
However, there is one thing he likes that he has been around long before autism or orange sweet peppers became a part of the daily routine: Queen.
The British rock band Queen has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. There were many nights when he was still on the bottle that the both of us would be watching the band’s iconic performances of the 1980s: Live at Wembley, Queen Rocks Montreal, Queen on Fire: Live at the Bowl and the band’s set at Live Aid in 1985, which has been voted several times over as the greatest live performance in rock history.
There were many nights we watched Queen at Wembley and he’d be asleep by the fourth song of the two-hour set.
Over the years, he’s added to his entertainment likes, Disney movies, “Kung Fu Panda” flicks and the “Madagascar” set, including the annoying penguins.
The one constant, though, remains to be Queen.
While watching the concerts, he mimics frontman Freddie Mercury – from how to hold a microphone to how the iconic singer struts. He sings along. When the band takes a breather during the epic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he leaves his “stage” until they return.
He also has a set of “Rock Band” drums and sticks, helping drummer Roger Taylor keep the beat to “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Fat Bottomed Girls” or “Tie Your Mother Down.”
In the truck, when a Queen song graces the speakers, his sister and I are not allowed to sing – or at least not let him catch us singing along.
However, his fascination goes beyond the music; he’s become fascinated on having the band’s light display on stage replicated while he’s drumming and singing.
For a 7-year-old with zero patience and his foot tapping to Queen, Dad gets volunteered quite often to use markers to make hundreds of dots on notebook paper to make it just like he sees on the TV.
For those who have never seen a Queen light display, Google it. No words can explain the intricate, expansive array of the flashing red, green, blue, yellow, orange and purple lights.
The lights have to look like what he sees – not what I see. There has to be the exact same amount of lights on that paper or I get the “try again, dad” response when he inspects. For someone who can’t draw a stick figure, it’s a challenge for me when he wants to add Taylor and the drum set, along with a strutting Mercury, bassist John Deacon and guitarist Brian May, as well as any pyrotechnics that may have happened at any point in the show.
I make sure I save the lights from the previous weekend. However, new lights have to be made — sometimes twice.
This past weekend, I was called upon to do lights for three concerts: Queen at Wembley, Queen Rocks Montreal and Queen on Fire: Live at the Bowl.
However, this weekend he bestowed an honor upon me. With a very specific set of visual directions, Dad got handed the drumsticks to keep the beat, while he had his microphone and was singing.
It lasted only a couple songs, as I wasn’t drumming the right way and was anointed microphone stand holder.
With that, my rock star hopes were dashed. No biggie. I still get to draw the lights.