1979 Music Video Reel

There are a bunch of my old music videos on this reel.  Here are a couple of anecdotes:

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody

This video changed my life…it brought me to the US, grew my music video company, opened so many doors and lead to my American wives and kids. The funny thing is that “Hello, Dali” won a B.A.F.T.A, an Emmy and a Golden Harp Award at the Montrose Film Festival, but seemingly had no effect on my career. One year later I directed this music video and my phone never stopped ringing.

A lot has been written correctly and incorrectly about Bo Rhap.

Here are a few  facts:

    • We shot it in 3 ½ hours and all the effects were done in the cameras, not in post.
    • It wasn’t the first music video ever made or the first music video I ever directed.
    • It was the first music video to be played on the very influential Top of the Pops, which did give it enormous exposure.
    • I was inspired by the Queen II album cover, shot by Mick Rock, which was inspired by a George Hurell photograph of Marlene Dietrich.  I have both hanging in my house.
    • I won a VMA for it, 17 years later, when it was re-released to promote Wayne’s World.  I was directing the VMA’s that year — Brian May and Roger Taylor picked up our shared awards on stage. Great moment.

Rod Stewart: Hot Legs

We shot this at a gas station in Piru, CA, a crossroads north of L.A.  The little Mexican man you see from time to time sat and watched us shoot all day, but he turned away every time he thought the camera was pointing at him.  He was not impressed — it was as though he saw a major star perform at the Piru gas station every day.

The legs were courtesy of a waitress from the unforgettable Roy’s Restaurant, a music industry hangout on the Sunset Strip, where The House of Blues is now. The waitress wasn’t buying it when my agent was trying to convince her to show him her legs, and come over to his hotel to audition for a Rod Stewart video. Fortunately, our Producer Carol Rosenstein, was able to talk to her, woman to woman, and seal the deal.  I ran into Hot Legs a few years ago — she was working as a florist on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood. She still had great legs.

Rod’s timing is impeccable and the man knows how to work the camera. Unfortunately, censors thought he was working his microphone a little too well and we had to do a re-cut to get the video played on Midnight Special and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.

ELO: Rock Aria

This was shot at the Rainbow Theater – the “opera singer” was actually an actress cast to play the part, on looks alone.

Leo Sayer: How Much Love

Leo sang a multi-part harmony on this track – layers and layers of Leo. No money, no set, no cast…what could I do? Create lots of Leos!

Queen: You’re My Best Friend

This was shot at The Manor, a recording studio in the English countryside. There were lots of pretty old barns on the property. I thought it would be lovely to fill one with candles and shoot by candlelight…in a 300-year-old wooden barn…was I out of my mind?

Bee Gees: How Deep is My Love

This video never saw the light of day — beautiful though it was. A few days after shooting this, Barry shaved his beard and the video was reshot by someone else.

Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells

This was a huge hit in the UK. Mike played all the instruments and we thought we should show that. So I split the screen nine ways. Way back in the 70’s the only way to do this on video was to record on the same pieces of tape, over and over again, adding one image at a time. When the day was done it was finished. My video version of a 24 track audio tape.

French Euro-Pop video with Spaceman and Chinese Dancer

I don’t remember the name of the song or who did it. The dancer was Wei Wei Wong who I worked with on the Second Generation Series for ITV. What can I say about this video? Only that not everything we did back then was good!

Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night

Yes, the blonde was Britt Ekland who you never really see clearly — Rod wanted it to be mysterious. This was shot at Rod’s house in Holmby Hills. This was another one that the censors had a problem with — had to cut out Rod’s hand caressing her thigh for Midnight Special. We did three songs over a very long weekend at his house — “First Cut is the Deepest” in the garden and “The Wild Side of Life” in his disco!

10cc: Good Morning Judge

This was quite avant-garde at the time. Videos were mostly performances and in this one, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman (aka 10cc) chose to be actors playing ALL the parts. In various getups, they are the judge, the entire jury, etc.  An interesting bit of trivia: 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were so inspired by the process of making videos that they went on to become directors themselves.

Queen: Somebody to Love

This video was made from a concert I shot of Queen in Hyde Park and a shoot we did in a recording studio in North London – not a real recording session.  The concert, promoted by Richard Branson, was free and 150,000 people showed up — a record at the time.

If you look closely you’ll see that not all the concert footage is in sync — I took the best shots and cheated them and created a costume change for Freddie with just an edit.

Great song, great performance.

Stones: Hot Stuff

Not a favorite — I had to cut it this way because the lip sync was awful. It was a session track with a really difficult beat and an adlib lyric.

Bee Gees: Staying Alive

Another one that never made the light of day due to Barry’s beard removal! To make this one different from How Deep Is Your Love (it was a package deal), I used the very “in” video feedback effect and a new one too — posterization!  We had few tricks back then, so we had to create them.  Amazingly, when we got this assignment, we were never told that these tracks were going to be on the sound track of the Staying Alive movie and no one suggested that we do anything to tie the videos into the theme or visuals of the movie.  The Bee Gees’ videos were shot at “Flipper Studio” in Florida — dolphin statue and all.

Kansas: Dust in the Wind

We shot this in Chicago at a studio that was called “Fred Niles Communications”, later home to Harpo Entertainment and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Kansas had the good fortune of being on Don Kirshner Records. Don was also the Producer of the TV series, “Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert”, which lead to this video being played endlessly on the show.