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It was a kind of magic when people of the communist Hungary found out that Queen is coming to Budapest. The world-famous band visited the country at a time when the regime did everything in its power to keep the West outside the so-called Iron Curtain. 

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The 1986 concert of Queen was one of a kind, not just for Hungarians, but for the band itself, states Szeretlek Magyarország. There were 70,000 tickets for the show and, even though people had to wait three hours for a ticket, each was sold in two days.

It was a great sensation, so was the movie about their performance

– said László Hegedűs, organiser of the event. The concert was part of the “Magic Tour” to introduce their brand new album, Kind of Magic to the fans. They played in the National Stadium (Népstadion) of Hungary, which most of you probably know as Puskás Ferenc Stadium today, on 27th July.

The concert was the very first big arena show in Eastern Europe, so it was significant to the neighbouring countries as well. The band spent five days in Budapest: they came along the River Danube from Vienna with a hydrofoil, visited Margaret Island, drove go-carts on the fresh asphalt of the newly built Hungaroring. According to Hegedűs, there were no special requests from their side; he thinks the whole hype around stars’ needs is just something for the media to chew on.

“It was funny to see how things really go. We organised a trip to Szentendre for Freddie in the greatest secrecy. We went there by three cars: I was in one with Freddie and two friends of mine, who offered to guide him through the antique shops, while there were guards in the other two. We arrived to Szentendre with three enormous black vehicles. We needed fifteen people to go anywhere with him, so we entered the antiques shops in a small crowd. The news spread with light speed in the town. By the time we exited the shop, there were at least three hundred fans outside waiting for Freddie, who gave a few autographs. This happened 3 or 4 times until the end of our visit: there was a great excitement around him, although he just went to buy some relics. However, he came with me to the Great Market, he disguised himself with a baseball cap only and nobody recognised him; and he was just looking around, acting like any other tourists.”

Hegedűs does not have too many memories about the concert since he, as an organiser, worked through the whole show in the background. However, he holds many memorable moments from Queen’s stay in Budapest, for example when he practised the Hungarian folk song Tavaszi szél vizet áraszt with Freddie Mercury all night long in the apartment of Hotel Intercontinental. He had to correct his pronunciation, and Freddie had to sing the song again and again. He could only see the concert in the movie that was shot about it.

The Live in Budapest, later entitled as Hungarian Rhapsody includes the whole show, their adventures around Budapest, Freddie Mercury acting like a real estate agent at the House of Parliament, or the band tasting pálinka during their walk-around in the “Népstadion” a few days before the concert. The movie was published on 4th December 1986. They used 16 cameras to record the movie from different angles and 40 kilometres of film were used to record the scenes; since there were no more 35 mm cameras capable of recording a movie in Hungary, all the cameramen currently working on a feature film had to concentrate on this one. They did hardly regret it.

Did you know that Queen played in Hungary since then? Learn more here.

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1 comment
  1. You slipped a misinformation in your article, Freddie Mercury rehearsed for the famous Tavaszi szél on the terrace of Marriott Hotel, not Intercontinental…

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