Freddie Mercury’s Produced Hit For Eddie Howell Returns After Being Banned Since 1976

British singer Freddie Mercury (1946 - 1991) of rock band Queen in concert at Leeds Football Club, UK, 29th May 1982
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There was one song Freddie Mercury produced that despite becoming a hit was banned by the Musicians’ Union in 1976. Now, musician and songwriter Eddie Howell has regained the rights to his song “Man from Manhattan” from Warner Bros. Records and is releasing a special edition vinyl LP to celebrate the song’s restoration and recovery. It will be released on April 12, 2024.

The song was produced by Mercury and features Mercury on piano and backing vocals with Queen‘s Brian May on the guitar. Howell recalls working with Mercury and how at the end of the recording, he told Howell, “If this is not a hit dear, sue Warner Bros!”

Howell said of working with Mercury, “However, over the coming days I became slightly apprehensive about him producing the song, because of his definitive style, I was concerned that it would end up sounding too Queen-like, especially with Brian May guesting on lead guitar, but decided it was an opportunity not to be missed, as at the very least, it was sure to be interesting and besides, Freddie turned out to be a spirited, kind and decent human being, as well as the inspired and inspirational musical maestro that people across the globe came to know and love.”

British singer-songwriter Eddie Howell, October 1975

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So, why was the song banned despite being a hit? The Musicians Union (MU) discovered that one of the players during the session didn’t have a work permit. They were able to place a ban on all media exposure, effectively killing the song. Howell was skeptical of this reason and allegedly said that the song was about the mafia and was inspired by Mario Puzo’s novel “The Godfather Papers.” Believing that it was an unfair situation he said “’The Man from Manhattan’ got taken down by a hit man.” Warner Bros and the MU met to try to resolve things but it was never released in America, until now. The multi-track tape has been digitally transferred, remixed, and remastered at Abbey Road Studios and includes ten additional tracks from the era.

Not only is this a big deal for Howell but a way to listen to a Queen-related song that had been seemingly lost in history. Pre-order the limited edition set here.

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70s Pop Idols

May 2019

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