Pioneering pop music video director Bruce Gowers dies aged 82

Pioneering pop music video director Bruce Gowers – who was famously paid £500 to make Queen’s iconic Bohemian Rhapsody promo – dies aged 82

  • Gowers died from complications from acute respiratory infection in California
  • A tribute said he ‘always brought boundless enthusiasm, energy and joy to work’
  • He was behind video that catapulted Queen onto the world stage in 1975
  • Gowers single-handedly recorded video at studio in London in under four hours

Bruce Gowers, the pioneering pop music video director who was paid £500 to make Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody promo, has died aged 82.

Gowers died from complications from an acute respiratory infection in Santa Monica, California, on Sunday, his family said.

A tribute said: ‘Gowers always brought boundless enthusiasm, energy, passion and joy to his work. He loved and was loved by the crews that he worked with and was known far and wide for his generosity as a colleague, constantly encouraging and promoting the talented people on his team.

“Funny, irreverent and wonderfully candid, he will be remembered in countless legendary stories that will keep his charming spirit alive for many years to come. 

Gowers died from complications from an acute respiratory infection in Santa Monica on Sunday

Gowers died from complications from an acute respiratory infection in Santa Monica on Sunday

Bohemian Rhapsody is seen by pop historians as not only the springboard for Queen's global fame, but also the genesis of the modern music video

Bohemian Rhapsody is seen by pop historians as not only the springboard for Queen’s global fame, but also the genesis of the modern music video

‘He was always happiest in the control room, on a boat in the Bahamas, and of course, at home with the dogs, friends and family.’

The director was behind the video that arguably catapulted Queen onto the world stage in 1975.

But a livid Gowers was paid just £500 for the ‘video promo’ back in 1975.

Bohemian Rhapsody is seen by pop historians as not only the springboard for Queen’s global fame, but also the genesis of the modern music video – and the first step to the creation of MTV.

Speaking to DailyMailTV in 2018, following the release of the namesake film, Gowers described how he single-handedly recorded the video at Elstree Studios in London in under four hours so the band ‘could be at the pub before closing time’, and kept costs to just $5,600.

The first time the band saw the tape was when it aired on the live BBC show, 48 hours later. It was a cutting edge production, using camera prisms to create dramatic shots of the band members’ disembodied heads belting out their operatic song.

The video became an instant hit, propelling Queen to rock star status. But Gowers claims he never got the credit he was due.

‘We all knew it was a gamble and we really expected them to dump it,’ he told DailyMailTV.

‘But we sat around a TV set at the editing facility with our fingers crossed, and bam there it was… It was played everywhere.’

The director was behind the video that arguably catapulted Queen onto the world stage in 1975

The director was behind the video that arguably catapulted Queen onto the world stage in 1975

Gowers went on to produce more than 350 music videos for the biggest acts in the world, including Michael Jackson, Prince and Cliff Richard.

An Emmy award winner, he also directed 234 episodes of American Idol over eight seasons from 2002 to 2011.

He received an Emmy nomination in 1998 for his role in creating Fleetwood Mac: The Dance.

Gowers was born in New Kilbridge, Scotland, and began his career in the UK after attending the BBC Training College in london.

He accepted production roles at the likes of Rediffusion and London Weekend Television and was ‘happiest in the control room’.

But he first received adulation and critical acclaim after direction the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody promo.

Opportunities to work with Rod Stewart. Michael Jackson, Prince and Alice Cooper followed.

Following the success of the Bohemian Rhapsody video, Gowers, moved to California and continued with director roles for a number of major award shows including The Primetime Emmy Awards and the MTV Awards.

He received his own MTV award for the Queen promo, before also being given an award by the Director’s Guild of America for Genius: A Night for Ray Charles in 2004.

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