The Game Tour was a concert tour by Queen to support their successful 1980 album The Game – which includes the hits like “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – and their short trek has become the stuff of myths and legends. This tour saw the band being the first to play in South American stadiums in early 1981.
The tour began on February 28, with two consecutive nights at Estadio Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, where the band drew a crowd of 300,000 people –the largest single concert crowd in Argentine history as of 1982.
Freddie Mercury first met Diego Maradona at a party in Castelar outside Buenos Aires, and invited him to appear on stage during Queen’s final Buenos Aires show. Maradona accepted readily.
“Freddie hadn’t really known who he was, as he was not what you could call a football fan,” laughed Peter Freestone. “Footballers’ thighs, maybe. Rugby players’ thighs, even better!”
Still, Freddie could not help but be amused by the young soccer star. To some extent, he could identify with him: they shared modest stature and an unquenchable thirst for success. Maradona duly appeared to ecstatic applause, whereupon the footballer peeled off his Number 10 team shirt, and swapped it for the rock star’s T-shirt. He then introduced “Another One Bites the Dust”, and retreated, as Queen tore in to one of Argentina’s all-time favorite rock numbers.
These photos were taken on March 8, 1981 backstage at the Buenos Aires stadium Estadio José Amalfitani. Maradona is wearing the British Union Jack shirt of Brian Ma, while Freddie Mercury is wearing a Diego Maradona #10 jersey from the Argentina national team.
When these photos surfaced, Maradona was heavily criticized by the Argentine people for wearing The British Union Jack considering The Falklands War “La Guerra de las Malvinas” between The United Kingdom and Argentina. He defended himself by saying that the photos were taken one full month before the conflict began and one full year before the war had even started.
Perhaps the Palo journalist was not so stupid when he quizzed Freddie at the asado. He put it to Freddie that the shirt-exchange moment with the nation’s greatest sporting idol had been a ‘demagogic act’. Freddie, incensed by the implication, denounced the suggestion as ‘ridiculous’. He declared it to have been a friendly gesture, nothing more.
“If the audience thinks it’s OK to do such a thing, and appreciates it for what it is, I don’t give a damn what the press might think,” he retorted. “I’m going to do what I like, regardless of whether the press label it ‘demagogic’ or wrong.”
The South America experience was not thrills all the way. Followed and harassed by both media and fans, who would congregate around him in a flash, Freddie spent more time legging it from madding crowds than he would have liked. Recognized wherever he went, he found peace and quiet only behind the locked doors of his hotel suite. He slept more than usual, rarely leaving his room before 2 P.M. He would occasionally ask to go for a drive around the city, but his favorite off-duty pastimes were eating and shopping. His entourage were run ragged trying to arrange a different restaurant every evening, even though Freddie ate next to nothing when he got there. At least his shopping trips were fruitful. On one excursion alone he purchased 25 pairs of socks, 10 identical T-shirts, and 20 pairs of matching trousers. His bodyguards wondered why he bought so many of each. They were surprised when he explained that, as a teenager, he never had the opportunity to just be a kid, and to wear exactly what he wanted. This, he told them, was his way of making it up to himself.
Here are some more amazing photographs of Queen during their The Game Tour in Argentina: