Yes, I know... it seems like the most ordinary way to say hello... but do not trust it! We are about to introduce you the most exceptional of the interviews, among those you can only have once in a lifetime.
It's Claudio here. I'm the guy who launched this little parallel world called Comunità Queeniana in 2012.
In my mind it has always been a different place for Italian fans to live the love that we share for this extraordinary British rock band. Comunità Queeniana was born mainly for Italian people. Anyway, now more than 30% of the followers comes from all around the world, outside Italy.
Talking about this article, in the middle of this summer I've been emailed by our friend Barbara Mucci.
She wanted to do something different for Comunità Queeniana, namely make an actual interview.
Brilliant idea, and the person she wanted to involve in this thing was even more brilliant:
«Claudio, what do you think if we make an interview with Doug Bogie? Yeah well, he has been already involved in one with Jim Jenkins at the last Official International Queen Fan CLub Convention. Anyway, I'm pretty sure he may have something more to tell about the early Queen and, why not, about him and his own life. Plus he is a very nice, smart and funny man.»
For those unaware, Doug Bogie was the third bass player from Queen. Barbara will introduce him soon later.
I loved the idea, and soon we managed to arrange a guideline of questions to ask him.
He NOT ONLY kindly replied to all those questions... At moment it was hard to keep him in a standard interview framework... He had so much to tell, although a long term and expert fan like Jim Jenkins had recently hosted Doug in a 40 minutes Q&A. This is why we decided to release the interview both in Italian and English language. Usually this is a space intended for Italian readers.
I believe it came out such a great interview, really.
So, it's my immense pleasure now to give the floor to Barbara, and wish you ENJOY THE READING !
I’ve tried my best not to ask just the obvious questions, with the help of Claudio Tassone, webmaster of Comunità Queeniana Italiana.
Doug Bogie: Doug Bogie will do fine, I have a longer version but it’s not important and it’s not Doug Ewood!
BM: Infact, apart from 'Doug X' due to someone forgetfulness of your real surname, you've been also known as 'Doug Ewood' through the years. So Ewood isn't one of your names.
DB: No, never was - just made up! In english - Bogie is a very silly name… how could they forget me? In Scotland, where it is from, it’s a much better name.
BM: So where does the name "Ewood" come from? Why people called you so?
DB: Lazy reporter I guess?
BM: Oh, the press! I don't belong to the press, eh!
DB: I am sure you are very careful about facts.
DB: I was an amatuer musician - but I used to look for auditions in the Melody Maker music weekly paper... And one of the adverts in January 1971 was just for a “fabulous new band looking for a bassist". I rang the number and went along. I lived outside London, went on a bus and auditioned in a lecture theatre in Imperial College, Brian’s University, just behind the Royal Albert Hall.
BM: How old were you?
BM: Only 17? Really? Wow! And when you joined the band, what did you feel? I mean, what were your impressions about that environment? Have you ever been in a band before? You were only 17, after all…
DB: Well – that’s probably why things went wrong… a few years difference at 17 is a big difference! Well… I had had two local bands from school mates - mostly Blues based, some covers, some original tunes. In 1969 - 70 we would rent a hall… Esher town hall, book a more well known local band and then play as support... But it felt great to be asked to join a more grown up band.
BM: yeah, I can imagine!
DB: Although then, we were always called bands groups. But when still semi-pro everyone worked with borrowed gear - only the rehearsal room at the university seemed quite special - not just a basement or village hall.
At that time - i was trying to get into the world of recording studios... I had been fascinated by sound for many years, so they went hand in hand for me.
BM: So wasn't your goal to be a rock star?
DB: I wanted my work to be in a studio, and my hobby had been playing in a group since I was 14. Well - it all seemed to be related then… but no, not especially.
When you were young back then, the media had not ruined everybody’s idea of what to be! You wanted to be a good musician playing gigs and making albums… only in the late 70s did it became quite so huge - and not just music... Now it does seem that everyone wishes for celebrity - but for what? But generations change - the world changes…
At that time - there was a difference between POP Groups - The Beatles (amazing, wonderful etc) who were everywhere and Rock Bands - more bluesy and gig oriented. So I guess I wanted to be a great blues player, not a pop star.
Now you can be both!
BM: And sometimes it's not a good thing...
DB: A bit off subject - but that’s the background…
DB: I do… sadly just two… I loved it! Thought it was really very special! Just like a pompous Led Zep! I still tend to play that way, although just for my own entertainment these days.
BM: Someone reported your first show with Queen at the Hornsey Town Hall had an audience of just 6. Is it true? What did you think in those moments? Some of the guys later told it's more frightening to play in front of a little crowd. Do you agree?
DB: It was a HUGE hall... Very dark, a few lights and some oil wheel projections on the wall. And what audience there was, seemed miles away…. no seating just a few folk wandering around.
Support groups were mostly treated quite poorly back then... almost no lighting, very little care from the PA guys - and low volume. And the PA’s were not up to much anyway.
Do you remember Curverd Air?
BM: Well... not... sorry...
DB: Okay - side subject, later - I worked doing PA mixing on a tour… funny bit is. I auditioned for that job (aged 20) at the Rainbow. Just walked in and pretended I knew what to do! I only just remembered that!
Had a few peculiar jobs. But how lucky to always work in what most people would call a hobby!
BM: Yeah, you're right!
And what about the well-known and notorious episode in which you stole the limelight from the rest of the band? Somewhere I’ve read that it’s not true, that the real reason was you had to sit university exams. What happened actually? What do you remember about that show?
DB: Well - I read that… absolute nonsense! I was quite an outgoing guy and playing bass - well it’s quite easy to leap about a bit... So I was having great fun - standing beside Roger Taylor - who I admire greatly (drumming and singing). Must have just upset Freddie - it seems Brian was very unimpressed too! Why didn’t they say so? I could happily have adapted… but I loved playing so much! Who wouldn’t jump about? And perhaps they thought my playing was not good enough!
It must be said that my experience of most “serious” guitarists is that they can be quite introspective - and prone to moodiness! But hey - I was young! They were I think 4 / 5 years ahead of me.
Oh, there is one thing I would like to say - before I forget!
BM: Yes, please!
DB: Strangely, the thing that I most regret is that I could have become a true friend to the guys… and even the shape of my life after shows that there was a potential for great compatibility… However, C’est la vie…. Of course - they got a guy who wrote some brilliant and hugely successful songs - so they chose the right thing.
BM: So were you the one who left the band, not them the ones who fired you?
DB: It goes like this... I thought that we have played two excellent and exciting gigs. However, in the back of the borrowed van after the Yes gig at Kingston Polytechnic, there was one of those taking everything apart discussions: “so everything is terrible”, “it’s a waste of time”, and Freddie announces he doesn’t want to continue... So, as the new boy who knows nothing of their past activities and relationships – I just accept that that is the end of the experiment! A shame, but not unusual with bands with creative members.
BM: Wow, are you realizing that we are re-writing the history...?!
DB: I assumed a couple of years later when the first album came out…. that Freddie and the guys said all that simply to sack me without being nasty to my face. On reflection - they were the kind of guys that probably always had a de-briefing session. But that was it…. from Hero to Zero pretty damn quick…
I have mentioned this before - so it’s out there somewhere.
BM: Everywhere we only read THAT kind of story, about you and your exuberance… That's a shame...
DB: Oh, I see…. oh well, that’s me! I shall go and have a little cry now…!
BM: You're too funny Doug!
As you've said a minute ago, Yes was also billed at the same venue that day, at the Kingston Polytechnic. Can you remember the attitude between Queen and other bands, more or less known, that played before or after them in that show?
They had just come back from USA and had bought Iron Butterfly’s huge (by the standards of the day) PA system. Great big W bins like you got behind Cinema screens - very modern!
We were not allowed to use our own amps / drums, the venue was like a school hall so the stage was small. So imagine! I was going to use Chris Squire’s Fender Dual Showman amp with 2 x 15” Silver faced cabinet! Brilliant!
However... The Yes team were definitely not impressed with us, so there was no friendly chat (that I saw or heard). We simply played our set with the lights halfway down and the PA just about turned on and with no sound check of any kind... Someone told me Brian got some bad attitude from Chris in the backstage area - I didn’t see that though.
They do say it’s not always a good idea to meet your heroes - they may be right.
BM: Infact this is the next question… Again about Yes band, Steve Howe played a stunning solo on the track Innuendo by Queen many years later. Also the late Chris Squire... the great Chris Squire... worked very well with Roger on Smoke On The Water sessions by Rock Aid Armenia. Do you remember the relation, if there was any, between Brian and Steve in the backstage at Kingston Polytechnic?
DB: Must say though - YES played utterly brilliantly! Sorry, No. I always felt that Steve Howe was the one thing in Yes that let them down - no blues rock soul… all twiddles… Seems a nice man though.
BM: Have you always been so funny and nice like you are today? Were you the same at the time as a member of Queen? If yes, your brief stay with the band was overall happy or there were other frictions before you have eventually left them?
DB: Well. You would have to ask others… I think I am the same… although I’ve been told I can be very scary in the workplace (I don’t believe it!) However - all that time ago… I only remember it as good time.
Roger was just a brilliant outgoing bloke. Brian - well never got through the introspection in the short time I knew him… Freddie was friendly, had a great day visiting at his boot stall… So I was a bit sad to discover they thought I was a twit.
BM: Talking with Jim Jenkins at Queen Convention in 2014, you said that among the other members of the band you preferred Roger Taylor. Why?
DB: Well - he was friendly, easy to talk to…. and so hugely talented! And by far the best voice in the band!
At that time Freddie was not the man he became. He had all the ideas…. he would become a huge star, but right then - the singing was still in development. This is quite normal… Everybody needs time to develop.
It’s like Actors and Film Stars - they are quite different things - and Freddie had star quality all the way through – his singing just had to catch up… and catch up it did!
BM: You've just answered about Roger and Freddie. What about Brian? What did you think about him at that time?
DB: Well he was the quiet one… Always polite and friendly… All the intense stuff must have been happening when I wasn’t around!
I felt quite at home because we all spoke in a similar way, what we would have called well brought upJ - so it just seemed a great mix of people to me.
Of course - i did love the way Brian played, I’m sure it has affected and influenced me ever since.
BM: ...and John Deacon, have you ever met him before he joined Queen?
DB: No… seems a decent guy - and you can’t underestimate the effect that having a “Pop” bassist and writer had…. Would they ever have had the success in the States without his brilliant songs?
BM: Another One Bites the dust, written by John Deacon, was Queen's biggest success in USA.
DB: What do you think about the song Misfire from Sheer Heart Attack album, if you ever listened to it? It's another song by John Deacon, you know...
DB: Good song - not a stand out, but it was early days... I rather liked the riffing tunes. Get yer Led Zep Out!
BM: This is a very serious question, so please don't laugh: have you ever met Barry Mitchell?
DB: No I haven’t, but we have exchanged some communications on Facebook - since Jim Jenkins convinced me that there would be people interested in my short experience out there. As Jim says - some are so interested in Queen that even a tiny footnote means something to them...
BM: Like me and Comunità Queeniana! We are literally hungry about Queen!
DB: You know… I was so touched - I got well over a hundred birthday wishes from some of the friends I have made on Facebook :) Very sweet.
BM: Means you deserved all those!!
So apart from the visit at Freddie's stall, have you ever met Queen outside the band? Maybe for a beer or for lunch or just a walk? Or was it just a job?
DB: Well I think it was with Roger that we went to see their friend Paul who was an agent - I’ll have to look up names etc… he was the one who got the gigs... and then it was some time, maybe two years later, when my then girlfriend and I were in the Natural History Museum in London. We were about to leave - walking down the huge set of flagstone steps, when we almost bumped into Brian and I assume his Mrs... We chatted for a few moments and that was that... All very polite and friendly - just as you would expect from two well brought up middle class boys.
At that time I was working at CBS Studios and felt quite happy to be talking with Brian.
I did meet Brian one other time... we were both working at AIR Studios London. I was recording the tracks for RAF 1 and Brian was working on the Concert For Kampuchea charity album.
I was actually surprised he recognized me – it was now 1979. We chatted I explained I was working in studio 2 and he very kindly offered to come and say hi to the band. It was a nice gesture coming into the studio and saying hello to everybody… the band members were pretty amazed, I really had been in Queen !
DB: No, that’s a new one for me. Can’t see it… because Genesis were such a serious band - Roger was a Pop Star / Rock Star waiting to erupt...
BM: Can you remember if some of the fans liked you specifically as a member of Queen? Have anyone ever told you that it was a shame you didn't go on as a member of Queen?
DB: I’m afraid, so few saw me, and it was two years before they started to make a mark… so sadly no…
BM: So what did you do after leaving the band? Did you have auditioned for other bands?
DB: I started my own local band - with people more my age, “Wigan”. Played some local gigs, was bluesy rock, good fun! So for me, I went from one band - straight to another...
And also got a day job at De Lane Lea recording studios in Wembley – they gave me a job after many letters and phone calls - just to shut me up I think!
BM: That’s funny! Infact I’ve looked at your Facebook profile, and I’ve read that you worked, from 1971 to 1973, at the De Lane Lea Studios as “tea boy”. What?? Really?
DB: Traditionally - when you start at a studio (sound or video / film) you are the Gofer: Go for this… Go for that... This includes keeping everyone in the control room happy with refreshments. So Teaboy / Tape Operator was the reality of being a Very Junior Engineer.
BM: Have you seen Queen recording during your days at the De Lane Lea?
DB: No, that was a year before - whilst the studio was being built / finished. I had no idea of they had been there until I found the demos in the tape library.
BM: What about those demos?
DB: Well - they were demos… but the germ was there. And a good song always stands out to those who understand. They had a new feel, an excitement about them.
BM: Do you remember which songs were them?
DB: mmmm, Son and Daughter, Liar I think… they are on the internet I believe.. I haven’t looked though.
DB: Bloody Marvelous! Also got my name on an Album for the first time!
BM: That's great! Which was your part in this production?
DB: Just as junior engineer / teaboy
BM: That’s fine.
DB: There is a track called Ma Ma Belle, that’s my guitar, borrowed to do the introduction by Jeff Lynne – wish he had let me play it!
The Drummer Bev Bevan was such a nice great big quiet guy!! They were managed by Don Arden and his Son - gold medallions and very old school ganster style, but the band were great!
DB: Well when my band RAF failed to make it with the second album for A&M (they wisely didn’t ask for a third) I went back into Sound recording and media production, eventually concentrating on Video. I still shoot and edit all sorts of projects some for drinks producers and big financial companies but for the last few years more in the world of health and education.
It would be nice for people to know that there is life after what seems a one off chance...
The future is really all about personality. Many people would be very jealous of my life I’m sure.
Its very easy to be cross about how the world treats you... so we should all try to be aware of how much we have all got. Of course - I am sometimes a little depressed about how things worked out…. but in so many ways my life has been wonderful.
BM: I believe you.
DB: And who knows what might have been… I may have wrecked Queen’s chances. I may have started to take drugs, which I never have, and perhaps I would not be here anymore! A young man can be easily led. And although in the world of “Queen fans” one must never say anything negative… the fact remains that there were some pretty bad goings on over the years... However - on the up… Everything works out in the end.
BM: I agree, completely.
DB: I am producing some ambient music and video clips to help parents who have lost babies - using their child’s heartbeats in the music. I know it sounds strange but when we tested the idea it was loved and appreciated by the parents as something to help remember.
Oh, and I gave my colleague from the NHS a “Common Decency” badge - which she is now wearing around the government offices!
BM: Oh, Common Decency! Do you follow Brian May in his political committment?
DB: YES, to common decency, BUT everybody has a different idea of just what that is! So I am not a vegetarian, I don’t think we should hurt animals more than is absolutely required, and I do think Politics should be about the citizens and not the leaders of big parties. But - talking religion and politics is a very good way of making at least half the people dislike you…
You know, I have been lucky enough to work with Richard Dawkins (a famous scientist and atheist) who has the right idea about how marvelous the universe is - I don’t need an imaginary friend to make it work!
So, best keep to music I suppose…
BM: Yeah, you're right, they're hot topics...
I’d like to ask you something about your experience with your band RAF. Who were the other members?
Okay, Well… it started when I met a guy David Valentine - in the studio I worked at in Edinburgh. We would do Radio Jingles and all sorts of projects in the daytime, in the evenings we would work on a demo Album. So the other members were guys we knew from the area. We worked for a year on the demos and then I flew to Los Angeles and David later joined me… we rented a room for two weeks at a Santa Monica Motel and knocked on doors. I had managed to get some appointments before - I just said “I’m coming to LA. 6000 miles - I have a segue of 5 minutes music that showcases our album… How about it?” And it worked. A&M liked the sound and had a London office... I never mentioned Queen - it didn’t seem relevant. Maybe I should have done so!
BM: That's really cool! And do you remember how many gigs you played? And then, what happened to the band? Why did you split up?
DB: Okay… well, we became friendly with the management company for Supertramp - who also Managed Chris De Burgh, and they gave us some gigs opening for Chris - they were great as in Ireland he was a superstar. Other than that - usual small pub / club gigs.
We got another guitarist in so I could concentrate on the engineering and live production side of things and also a great keyboard player Petter John Vittesse. He was spotted when we played the Marquee in London by Ian Anderson and went on to join Jethro Tull for a while. Anyway - the second album was not a commercial success and we had to disband the live band.
I had built a small recording studio in a barn at a friend’s farm and we spent a year making more demos.
But… like so many things we fell apart, with some strong disagreements. And I went back into media production and Sound Engineering. I was offered a job with an expanding video company in Edinburgh - and took over a video suite and that did well so I started my own company. Thought it would last maybe 5 years… and that was 1982! Been a very busy life!
Travelled the world, made good friends and earned a reasonable living. And really only been playing for fun in the house. So you could say I have wasted a lot of guitar time over the years… but who knows.
DB: Filming has taken me to South Korea, Hong Kong, Chile, the States, most of Europe… And the Bahamas and Puerto Rico and Italy!
I have been married since 1976 to a lovely and wonderful girl. We have two fine children now all grown and making their own way in the world.
BM: You mentioned Bahamas... what about Sean Connery? I know you interviewed him in Bahamas. What about the occasion?
DB: Oh, there is a Golf Tournament called the Ryder Cup… Europe vs USA, and government’s bid to host it. One wednesday I got a call from the Scottish Government asking if I could be in the Bahamas that Saturday to record a video interview with Sean Connery about the importance of Scotland in the history of Golf… The sport was invented in Scotland and he is a fanatic! So I said yes, popped a camera in a rucksack… called around and found a company in Nassau who could help me, and off I went. What a strange weekend that was!
I never expected I would be sitting in James Bond’s house chatting over a cold beer.
BM: I also know that whilst at CBS you made a single, a rocked up “Away in a manger / Reggae Hokey Cokey”.
DB: Yes! I managed to get a one off deal with Ringo Starr’s “Ring’o Records”. I had gone in to pitch a demo of a Sci Fi based concept album “House Up In The Stars” that never came to be. But I also had this novelty track I had arranged and recorded at CBS. Ringo was so nice and listend to it all, but I think he only took it on because when I went to in to pitch he was with Harry Nilson who took a liking to it. Couldn’t believe my good fortune – an advance of £400 – bought a second hand Colour TV for my mum and myself – we shared a flat in those days.
BM: At this point, I MUST ask you this question: have you ever been in Italy, Doug? Do you like our country?
DB: I LOVE ITALY!!
DB: I was lucky enough to have a video job in Venice for an international surgeons conference, Italy is at the leading edge for surgical procedures. It was such a special trip and we had a tour of St Marks with a private organ recital and light show! We were also taken as a special treat to the casino - where they put on a small masked ball for us... I had to be very careful where I filmed as there were a few “gangsters” gambling! It was a wonderful experience! So my wife and I went back as tourists the next year and that was fantastic too.
Also been to Rome twice - loved just wandering around, so many amazing things. There was an art lovers trip to Florence - what can you say, so much beauty. We spent a quiet week near Sorrento and also a driving trip through many of the northern towns and fabulous mountain roads - my wife Wendy loves the mountains and the Dolomites are stunning.
And lastly I took my mother a few years before she died to Lake Como - she had been there as a young woman after the war... It was beautiful beyond imagination - Bellagio, WOW.
So, yes I really like Italy!
BM: I'm really happy! So happy you enjoyed your stay. Is there an Italian dish you like the most?
DB: We are Lasagne fans, well all Italian cuisine. When I worked at CBS London Studios there was a 4 story restaurant across the road called the Italian Spaghetti House…. because I worked long hours I could go there for my dinner 3 - 4 times a week…. But Italian food is at it’s best when eaten in Italy!
DB: I so wish I had…. But it was so long ago...and I was learning a whole set of music in just 6 weeks... So I am sorry!
BM: That' s ok, dont worry!
In the song “Sheer Heart Attack” by Roger Taylor (from News Of The World album), Freddie Mercury sang: “Well you’re just 17 – all you wanna do is disappear”. Obviously this is not the case for Doug Bogie, who when was just 17 had the privilege, and the good fortune, of joining the most famous rock band in the world, Queen. And even if for just few weeks, he entered history.
Thank you VERY much Doug for your kindness and endurance in answering to these questions. It was a pleasure, and it confirms me what a great person you are! Thanks, thanks a lot! You’re my new hero!