I’M speaking to a familiar sounding gravelly voice down the other end of the line that seems to be coming from Timbuktu, not London.
This is Roger Taylor, voted the eighth greatest drummer in classic rock history, writer of Radio Ga Ga and A Kind of Magic and solo artist in his own right.
The phone call doesn’t really start off the way I anticipated greeting a rock great.
“I really can’t hear you,” Roger tells me.
“I can hear you a bit Roger, but you sound a bit faint too,” is my opening line.
It’s then that the voice of Roger’s publicist chimes in, telling us the reason why the connection is so bad is because they’ve connected up the calls and suggest I phone him direct.
I’m relieved that we should be able to move on from exchanging faint and barely discernible pleasantries about the weather to talk about the real reason for our phone call – Queen Extravaganza.
Plucked from obscurity two and a half years ago through online audition videos, the band was put together by Roger and Queen guitarist Brian May to enable new and old fans to celebrate the music of Queen. Their first ever TV performance was to an audience of 50 million on American Idol.
As Roger and I discuss the hundreds of Queen tribute acts around, I suggest that Queen Extravaganza is a way of the original band members putting their stamp on what a tribute band should be.
Roger said: “That’s precisely how it is, the way you described it. We wanted to put together a band that would do justice to our music.
“Some of the tribute bands aren’t as good as they could be.
“This is our way of saying, ‘Let’s make one that can do things well and do things properly.’ ”
Lead vocalist in the band is Marc Martel from Saskatchewan, Canada, whose audition tape of him singing along to Somebody to Love generated more than six million online hits.
Roger said: “We had people auditioning from the top of Canada to the tip of Texas. We have got the best players we could find.
“We were so lucky to find this young man as our lead vocalist. If I close my eyes when I listen to him I can hear Freddy.
“When I hear him singing Bohemian Rhapsody I get shivers down my spine.”
Roger has produced the show, which is touring the UK in September and features more than 20 Queen classics drawn from the band’s greatest hits.
He describes the show as ‘very spectacular’.
“There’s a lot of footage of Queen and some of it has never been seen before.
“The visual references have the flavour of Queen and we also have the heavier rock and roll element, back to what Queen was, a hard rock band before the singles came along,” he said.
Roger said he planned to drop in and see the band perform at some of their September dates.
“I just drop in from time to time to see what the performance is like and sometimes I don’t let them know that I’m coming – it’s a bit like being a mystery shopper,” he says.
And coming up for the original Queen is a global tour of the US and Australia.
“It’s always busy, there’s a lot going on and we’ve even got a Hollywood movie coming up at some point.”
I try to press Roger for more details but it’s all fully under wraps, he tells me.
He will, however, be drawn on the subject of the disappointment of being a Chelsea FC fan.
“I’m very disappointed with how we’re ending the season. We were pushing for the title but we couldn’t quite get there and threw it away.
“But still, we do have an entertaining manager,” he adds.
n Tickets for the Queen Extravaganza at the O2 Academy in Boscombe tomorrow night at 7.30pm can be bought from queenextravaganza.com costing £22.50.