Bruce Gowers, director on Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ video, dies at 82
Bruce Gowers, who directed the iconic video for Queen‘s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, has died aged 82.
The Emmy and Grammy winner, who also helmed 234 episodes of American Idol, passed away in Santa Monica, California last Sunday (January 15) of complications from an acute respiratory infection, his family confirmed (via Billboard).
“[Gowers] always brought boundless enthusiasm, energy, passion and joy to his work,” a statement read.
“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.”
It continued: “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. 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.”
Filmed at Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire in 1975, the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ clip is widely considered to be the first-ever promotional music video. It aired on Top Of The Pops just 10 days after the shoot was completed, and cost a reported £4,500 to make.
The visuals open with a shot of all four Queen members – Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon – standing in diamond formation with their heads tilted back into the shadows.
During an interview with the Daily Mail in 2018, Gowers explained: “It changed the way music was perceived; everyone was doing videos and bands were seeing their sales and chart positions rise.”
He also told the newspaper that he felt like he’d been “ripped off” by Queen, having only received $590 (£475) as payment for directing the clip.
Back in 2019, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ became the first music video released prior to the 1990s to score one billion views on YouTube. The clip has currently registered over one-and-a-half billion streams on the platform.
Gowers, a specialist in live events and television specials, directed and/or produced such shows as the Emmys, the Billboard Music Awards, MTV’s Music Video and Movie awards and the People’s Choice Awards.
He directed hundreds of other music videos including Prince‘s ‘1999’, The Rolling Stones‘ ‘Fool To Cry’, Rod Stewart‘s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ and Huey Lewis & The News‘ The Heart of Rock & Roll’.
The latter earned Gowers a Grammy win in the Best Music Video, Long Form category in 1986. He took home an Emmy in 2009 for outstanding directing for a variety, music or comedy series (American Idol), per IMDb.
Additionally, his career saw him helm music specials from Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, as well as comedy specials from Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy and more.
Other acts Gowers worked with include Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis and The Pretenders.
Gowers was born in New Kilbride, Scotland on December 21, 1940 to British parents, Robert and Violet, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Having started his career at the BBC, the director relocated to the US in the 1970s. He and his wife Carol Rosenstein lived in Malibu, California for the past 23 years.
In addition to Rosenstein, Gowers is survived by a daughter and son, four grandchildren and an ex-wife.
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