Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor has spoken out on the difficulties that Brexit has created for the music industry. Speaking as a guest on BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend on 21st February, Taylor reminisced about touring in Europe, and criticised the “borders” that Brexit has created.
Speaking to Edward Stourton, Taylor said: “Personally, I thought touring in Europe was the most interesting place to tour… Rock and roll, and our brand of music, is pretty much accepted everywhere within Europe, so that was an amazing thing – to find all these completely different types of audiences, different languages, all really getting off on our music.”
Taylor was one of over 100 musicians to sign an open letter to the government calling for a better Brexit deal for musicians, after no agreement was reached to secure visa-free travel for touring artists. Others to sign the letter included Ed Sheeran, Sting, Sir Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Taylor’s bandmate Brian May. Taylor added in the interview: “Borders – what a dreadful invention of mankind. And so we’re just putting up another one. I think it’s a dreadful retrograde step.”
On the topic of the impact of both Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic on touring musicians, Taylor mused: “I know, for instance, all our road crew, all the guys who make our touring work, they’re the ones who have suffered – not so much for the artists, we can fall back on our song-writing and our publishing. They can’t – it’s a daily, weekly job for them. And so it’s made it really hard for our industry.”
The government debated on the petition to allow visa-free travel for musicians in parliament on 8th February. The government’s official response states: “The EU turned down our proposals on the basis that musicians were providing a service which they viewed as necessitating a work permit and/or visa. This outcome is regrettable, however there is scope to return to this issue in the future should the EU change its mind.”
This month, Queen + Adam Lambert announced that they have been forced to postpone their tour due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Their tour of the UK and Europe was originally due to take place in 2020 and was pushed back to 2021, but now been scheduled for May, June and July of 2022. The band have added additional dates in Glasgow.