Queen 'Keep Yourself Alive' demo tape hits the auction block

It is the recording that started it all; the one that introduced Queen to America and the one that was used for their first-ever radio play in 1973.

October 2019 - Backstage Auctions is honored to present this rare and one of a kind piece of Queen history in their upcoming Rock and Pop Auction event. “It’s truly a privilege to have Queen’s 1973 demo tape featured in our auction and to give fans and collectors around the world the opportunity to own this Holy Grail piece of music history,” explains Backstage Auctions founder Jacques van Gool.  

The history of the tape and how it became Queen’s introduction to America as well as all the individuals that made it happen is quite remarkable.  Elektra Records founder and president Jac Holzman received the 1973 Queen 'Keep Yourself Alive' demo from the bands' manager Norman Sheffield in the hope that he would sign them to his label for the US markets. Enthused about the band and their potential, Holzman went to see Queen perform at the infamous London Marquee and subsequently signed Queen to Elektra Records. This is when Holtzman issued his company wide memo "I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE OF POP MUSIC AND IT IS QUEEN" which everyone promptly threw into the trash except for the local promo man in Boston, Ric Aliberte.

The single ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ was released in October 1973. Aliberte right away took the 45 to WBCN-FM 's Maxanne Sartori.  Sartori wanted to broadcast it on her show but Program Director Norm Wiener insisted all new music be played using 15-IPS tape only, as he wanted the sound of WBCN-FM to be pristine. Aliberte requested the tape and the only copy available was Jac Holtzman's copy. As Holtzman had just sold Elektra Records and left the company, Ruth Manning, the New York Elektra office manager, gave Aliberte the ONLY copy she had; Holtzman's copy!

Aliberte brought the tape to WBCN-FM and Sartori immediately played it three times a day on her show. Soon Queen was a station favorite and all the DJ's started to spin multiple tracks from the now released vinyl LP. Aliberte retrieved the tape from the station and has had it ever since. This recording has been carefully preserved by Aliberte for the past 46 years and he recently showed it to Brian May, who graciously signed the back of the box. “Brian couldn’t believe that I still had the tape, he recalled the story very well,” says Aliberte. 

The tape was recently evaluated at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles by former VP and studio head Michael Frondelli, a famous engineer and producer in his own right, to check the quality. It turns out to be in perfect condition with the original alignment tones for accurate playback at the top of the reel.

To quote Michael Frondelli "In my 40 years as a recording engineer and producer, 9 years at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios and as the former VP for Capitol Records Studios for 11 years, I have never seen or even heard of an analog tape ever being sent to a label or radio station, let alone one with alignment tones with this ‘Master’ quality. This so-called demo was truly a master deal closer. I see this as historical evidence of a truly confident, brilliant artist strategy!"

Fans and collectors worldwide can participate in the auction hosted by Backstage Auctions. The item can currently be previewed online now and the online auction bidding will run from October 19, 2019 through October 27, 2019.

Learn more here: Queen 1973 Original Demo Tape

For more information and to register for your VIP All Access Pass for The Rock and Pop 2019 Auction visit:  www.backstageauctions.com 

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