Queen Features ‘Big Spender’ In The Greatest Live
via Queen Official / Youtube
Queen showcased their rock rendition of the classic show tune “Big Spender” on the latest episode of the weekly series “The Greatest Live.”Originally written for the 1966 Broadway musical “Sweet Charity” and first recorded by Peggy Lee, the song’s style was one of the various influences that shaped Freddie Mercury’s musical background. However, as the episode’s synopsis suggests, “Big Spender” likely reached Freddie Mercury through the iconic Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey, renowned for her definitive rendition and status as a three-time performer of James Bond soundtrack themes.
The Encore Performance
Freddie reflected on this evolution, stating in a 1977 interview with Hit Parader:
“Sneaking my cabaret influences into our act was done slowly. Could you imagine me performing ‘Big Spender’ when we were just starting out as a rock band? It would have been quite a shock. Now we’ve embraced a fusion of rock ‘n’ roll and theatre.”
Having taken that artistic leap, Queen never looked back. The archive footage for this week’s episode combines clips of “Big Spender” from two of the band’s most legendary concerts. The sequence begins with footage from the Hammersmith Odeon concert on Christmas Eve 1975. In a playful move, the band temporarily left the stage after a frenzied finale of “In The Lap Of The Gods,” teasing both the sold-out crowd and the BBC audience watching from home. The band then returned to deliver an encore performance of “Big Spender.”
The Performance is a Masterpiece
Featuring Roger Taylor pounding the toms while sporting a vibrant, multi-colored clown wig. Brian May skillfully reimagines the classic brass motif, transforming it into a powerful slide guitar riff. Meanwhile, Freddie Mercury captivates the audience, playfully manipulating the cord of his kimono before dramatically discarding the garment. This bravura performance is only surpassed by the band’s spectacular reprise, which took place eleven years later at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
For those wanting to relive these iconic moments, “Greatest Hits” by Queen is available for purchase.
Watch the video below: