(hennemusic) Queen revisit their 1975 tour of Japan in the first of a two-part episode in the group's weekly video series, The Greatest. As early as 1974, in Japan, Music Life Magazine had started to feature pictures of the band and report on their albums. The style of music and stage show struck an immediate chord, and so in April 1975, Queen embarked on an eight-night tour of Japan.
Their very first concert on Japanese soil would be at the world famous Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, an arena dedicated to martial arts and concerts, and the band had no idea what was in store for them.
"We knew there was sort of demand for us there and so we tagged it on to the end of an American tour," explains Roger Taylor. "We had a holiday in Hawaii and then it was, sort of, logical, so we went there. We arrived at the airport and suddenly realized it was on a scale different to that which we'd imagined - there were thousands of people there, just to welcome us. Normally you just don't get that sort of thing anywhere."
"I don't think anyone really guessed that three thousand people would turn up at the airport. Anyone who turned up at the airport would think that this is like, the second coming of the Beatles," recalls record company executive and promoter Kaz Utsunomiya. "In those days the rock group band was mainly supported by the male audience, but then the fact that Music Life (magazine) put in Queen pictures opened up a whole new world with female fans, and caught Japanese fans in both genders, male and female."
This first encounter marked the beginning of a deep bond between Queen and Japan, with each leaving a lasting impression on the other. So much so, it inspired Brian May to write a song as a special tribute to their Japanese audience with the song "Teo Torriatte", featured on the band's 1976 "A Day At The Races" album containing two choruses sung in Japanese.
Queen would regularly tour Japan right up until 1985, but as Kaz explains, the band always embraced a unique approach to where they performed.
"In the early days we toured different cities all over Japan," he says. "So we'd go to Sapporo in Hokkaido which is in the northern part of Japan, and we would go to Sendai in southern part and it was really interesting because not that many bands used to tour all round Japan. A lot of international bands come to Japan, they go to Tokyo and Osaka. A lot of people never had the chance of seeing the international bands in the cities outside of Tokyo and Osaka, which Queen did and which made them bigger and a very unique international act in Japan. I think that also helped the band understand the Japanese culture, Japanese history, and the Japanese fans." Watch the episode here.