Queen before Queen
Record Collector #199, March 1996

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'MIFFER'

The name-change went hand-in-hand with the departure of drummer Mick 'Miffer' Smith, as Freddie documented in a handwritten letter to Celine Daley, an Irish girl who moved in the Ibex circle of friends. Dated 26th October, 1969, the letter bears the address 40, Ferry Road, Barnes, SW13 - another flat rented that summer by members of Ibex, Smile and various associates.
 

"Miffer's not with us any more," wrote Freddie, "'cause the bastard just up and left one morning saying he was going to be a milkman back in Widnes. (He meant it too.)" He goes on to boast that Roger and he go "policing and ultrablagging just about everywhere," which led to the pair "being termed as a couple of queens". Interestingly, this word doesn't seem to imply any of its more modern connotations. There was another term for that, as Ibex's former drummer was well aware. "Miffer, the sod," wrote Freddie, "went and told everybody down here that I had seriously turned into a fully fledged queer."
 
"You can see he was exploring the concept there, can't you?", interjects Mike Bersin, "to see how people felt about it and how comfortable he was with it. He was always very camp, but when I knew him, he was living with Mary Austin, and I certainly knew at least one other girlfriend he knew at the time. So he was kind of straight then. But if he hadn't yet come out of the closet, he was certainly looking through lhe keyhole."
 
Crucially, as far as Queen's pre-history is concerned, Freddie pinpoints the date when Ibex became Wreckage: "Our first booking as Wreckage is on Friday. 31st October at Ealing College," he wrote. He also names Richard Thompson, the former drummer in Brian May's "1984", as Miffer's replacement.

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