Available to special order only, this exclusive BMG collectors item pays tribute to Queen's magnum opus, "News Of The World", with the album's iconic gatefold sleeve reproduced in all its glory across the body and pickguard of a very limited edition instrument.
NOTW's famed artwork, painted by American artist Frank Kelly Freas, was a reimagining of his cover for the October 1953 issue of pulp sci-fi magazine Astounding Science Fiction, a favourite of Queen dummer, Roger Taylor's. Used to illustrate the short story “The Gulf Between" by Tom Godwin, the original work depicted a giant robot, a man’s lifeless body help limply in one hand, its finger dripping with blood and eyes pleading "Please... fix it, Daddy?”.
At the band’s request, Freas altered the haunting imagery, replacing the fatally wounded figure with the apparently dead likenesses of all four band members; Brian May and Freddie Mercury lying in the automaton’s monstrous metal hand, with John Deacon and Roger Taylor falling to earth. The visionary illustrator was also commissioned to create a new work for the album’s inner gatefold, with the cooly emotionless robot extending its hand through the shattered roof of a vast auditorium to grasp at a panicked, fleeing crowd.
A classical music fan, Freas admitted to not knowing of Queen in advance, and avoided their music until after the cover was completed "because I thought I might just hate them, and it would ruin my ideas”. Thankfully, upon listening to the album after submitting his contribution to what would eventually become part of rock history, the artist approved of what he heard - “They are firmly grounded in classical music, but they are inventive,” he raved. “It’s like these guys have absorbed all the quality music they can and then put it all in a bucket and stirred it up.”
Released on October 28th 1977 (the same day as the Sex Pistols unleashed "Never Mind the Bollocks..."), Queen’s sixth studio platter saw the band respond to the threat of punk rock by delivering the most stripped-down and straightforward collection of their career, focusing on a leaner, more spontaneous sound and feel, while still retaining the multi-layered flamboyance and hard-rock heft of their earlier work. Opening in epic fashion with the almighty one-two punch of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”, the album celebrates the quartet’s astonishing creative diversity, deftly genre-hopping between proto-punk (“Sheer Heart Attack”), salacious psych-funk (“Get Down, Make Love”), lush calypso-pop (“Who Needs You”), acoustic balladry (“Spread Your Wings”), blues (""Sleeping on the Sidewalk"), theatrical rock and roll (“It’s Late”) and jazzy romanticism (“My Melancholy Blues”).
Despite receiving mixed reviews upon its release, with many critics commenting negatively on the band's stylistic change, "News Of The World" has subsequently been certified double platinum in the UK and 4 x platinum in the United States and remains the band’s most successful long player to sate, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. Album openers "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You" have also of course become enduring arena-rock anthems that are a staple of Queen live shows, as well as sporting events around the world, to this day.
Christened in honour of his creator, the album's cover star, Frank the robot, has assumed iconic status in his own right, brought spectacularly to life for Queen + Adam Lambert's 2017 + 2018 concert performances, both as an animated visual and an animatronic character, and immortalised in his very own BMG's Art Series model.
The striking artwork that adorns this wonderful instrument was adapted from Frank Kelly Freas' original painting by the Brian May Guitars art department exclusively for this project and will be rendered to order in full-frontal splendour by world-renowned British custom paint specialist Martin Sims of Sims Guitar Works.
I'm coming from a history of owning Brian May guitars since the first efforts. A lifelong fan, I was working at a guitar shop when the first Guild came out and I ordered one for myself. Loved it, though we now know it wasn't the best effort. But for a scrappy guitar player - it was what was available. I sold it to pre-order the next Guild edition some years later. This was a much better rendition and I ordered it in green. I am KICKING myself for ever selling that one because regardless of how Red Special accurate it was - it was truly a fine instrument. But you know how guitarists are. The ones that got away... I have now been pining for a "Super" and hope to make it on to any new waiting list when production is commenced. And maybe, just maybe I'll get to go green again. But I digress. The ultimate Queen album art (for me) is "News of the World". I brought home the cassette, My dad saw the album art and said "That's from a magazine cover." To which I replied (probably) "No, it's from this brand new Queen album" and some kind of derisive grunt. He then proceeded to go down to the basement, root around and FOUND the original 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction with Kelly Freas' original painting on it and it blew my mind. Here was the coolest band in the world borrowing a painting that was already 24 years old, and somehow my dad recognized it! I still have the copy he gave me. I was really tentative when it came to ordering this edition. It's purely a collector move, and I felt very guilty about ordering a guitar that was mainly going to be a wall-mount piece of art. But I did. And here we are.So we had some issues with Customs. I don't think this was typical, and everyone was incredibly helpful and polite about it, but it was a bit frustrating for a few days. Then it arrived. The first thing I did when it arrived was tune it and play it through an amp. I've got a custom EL84 Vox clone that has an overdrive in front of the pre-amp that is just the best, and immediately, the Queen tones were right there. I didn't expect as much out of what is actually the base model with a nice, custom finish, but let me tell you - the May-sound is there. The pick-up switching selections along with the chambering of the body immediately let me find multiple Queen tones instantly.The transformation of the album art to the front of this instrument is also incredibly commendable. I guess if I am wishing for something, I wish that they had included the bridge/tremolo scratch plate and had it be part of the art as well. I get why it's a continuous image, but since they did it with the main pickguard, they could have certainly added the bottom plate and continued the artwork there as well. But that's a nit-pick. None of the ones in these special series have that lower scratch plate either.Nit-picking aside, it's a beautiful guitar with a great homage to my favorite Queen album art. And it sounds amazing. What more could you ask for? The price seems a bit on the steep side to me. I don't know why the other similar one with Frank as he was reimagined for the newest tour is almost half as much, and I'm not clear on anything else being that different between the two? Anyway - the gentlemen at House Music in Britain were exceptionally helpful, and the process was relatively quick and pain free, apart from the Customs hiccups. I love it and am working on a way to display my dad's old copy of Astounding Science Fiction along with the instrument on the wall. Five stars! Now, can someone sneak me onto the waiting list for a Super?
The price for this remarkable, limited edition, collector's piece reflects the fact that it features an entirely exclusive reproduction of Frank Kelly Freas' original album artwork, lovingly augmented by the BMG art department, and rendered in all its full frontal glory by Martin Sims at Sims Custom Guitars, one of the world's most renowned custom paint specialists. Using a unique, proprietary process, the iconic image is applied seamlessly and faultlessly across the entire face of the instrument – pickguard and all – with the body and neck colour-matched and finished to a similarly impeccable standard.