Last week Nikolay Torlopov, 14, from the Russian city of Rubtsovsk learnt that he would get 26 thousand euro. This is the sum that Germany’s recording company RG Music is ready to pay for a rare record of Freddie Mercury’s “home” concert performed together with his group Queen.
The Russian boy lives in the Altai region, and the sum that is offered for the rare record is enormous for this place. Now Nikolay is making plans how to spend the sum. The story explaining how the Russian boy got this record consists of several happy accidents, by the way, each of them could entail quite different results.
The first happy accident. Nikolay got a magnificent New Year present from his parents, a computer, which is still luxury for majority of Russian families. The boy immediately gave up his old Sony PlayStation and focused all attention on the present. He was extremely happy to find that in addition to the computer, the parents also presented him with a modem for surfing the Internet.
In a couple of hours Nikolay successfully connected the computer, installed all necessary programs and entered the Internet. He knew perfectly well how to surf the web as he did it many times already from computers of his friends.
When the boy downloaded a porn website, his father unexpectedly knocked at the door of his room and asked if he could enter. Nikolay didn’t want his father notice the website that he was surfing at that moment, that is why he clicked the first link that he found on the site so that to download something instead of the porn site. The father wanted to know whether the computer worked well and to see what was interesting on the Internet. The link that Nikolay clicked downloaded an Internet auction that are so abundant on the Internet now. The auction traded in badges, passwords to porn websites, a videotape recorder, a book about war, etc.
The father got also interested in the unusual auction. The name of the website could be translated into English as “Internet second-hand market”, which made the man laugh. When he asked the son what he was going to buy, Nikolay pointed to the first lot that he noticed. “An old cassette with records of an unknown group. Initial price 30 rubles (it is about one dollar).” The father got interested and allowed to buy the strange record, especially that the price was reasonable. Nikolay filled the registration form and declared his intention to buy the record.
But when Nikolay filled the registration form on the Internet auction, he intentionally misspelled his email. As it often happens at unpopular Internet auctions, Nikolay turned out to be the only client who evinced interest in the record of an unknown group. This is the story explaining how the Russian boy got the cassette.
It may seem incredible, but the man who sold the record, misspelled the email that Nikolay declared in the auction registration form, and he emailed directly to the right address of Nikolay. The boy was extremely surprised when he got an email demanding that he must pay for the record that he had purchased. So, Nikolay had to send money to that guy. The latter lived in the Russian northern city of Krasnoyarsk, that is why the cassette was delivered to Rubtsovsk where Nikolay lives only on January 13. When the boy unboxed the parcel, he found an old black scratched cassette with two labels on both sides. Inscriptions on the labels were unreadable; those were either English or German words spelled in tiny letters.
When the cassette was finally inserted into a tape recorder, it turned out that quality of the record was poor. But amid unwanted sounds voice of the singer could be heard rather well.
As Nikolay told later, the singer’s voice seemed familiar at first. But still he couldn’t say who was the singer. The man who sold the record certainly didn’t know it as well, he decided to put the cassette up for auction just for fun. After Nikolay listened to several songs, he understood that voice of the singer resembles intonations of Freddie Mercury. The Torlopovs are fans of Queen and Freddie Mercury, that is why the parents of the boy were wonderful experts on the group’s songs. The family gathered together to identify the singer. After listening to the record for five times, they arrived at a conclusion that it was voice of Freddie Mercury recorded on the tape. Nikolay supposed that it could be some rare record of Queen. The father suggested it wold be useful to surf the Internet for information about the strange record.
This is how the third happy accident occurred. When the boy inquired about rare records of Queen in the Russian search engine Yandex, he was linked to the website of Germany’s RG Music recording company. It was published on the website that the company needed rare records of home and public concerts of Queen and Freddie Mercury. The company promised good reward for any musical material of the popular group.
Nikolay digitized a couple of songs from the cassette and emailed them to RG Music. The record arrived at the destination. Member of the company, Andreas Scheinrich knows songs of Freddie Mercury perfectly well. RG Music produced Queen’s rare records several times already, but Andreas Scheinrich was surprised to discover that the records sent by the Russian boy were never seen by the recording company or other specialists.
Nikolay Torlopov got an explanatory note from Andreas which said that “supposedly, the record was made in 1971, when the musicians had an opportunity to test a new sound recording studio, De Lane Lea. It is quite natural that Queen also made several free records at that.” Majority of the records made this way showed up here or there, but that one that Nikolay bought at the Internet auction was unknown for all specialists. Personnel of RG Music cannot understand how the rare record could get to Russia’s Siberia. The very last happy chance was that Andreas Scheinrich misspelled Nikolay’s email. As Nikolay’s correct email was mentioned in the letter, the addressee to whose email the letter was originally sent, forwarded it to Nikolay Torlopov.
On January 25, the Russian boy dispatched the cassette to Germany; as soon as the records are re-tested, Nikolay will get the reward.
Yeugeny Bobrov Molodezh Altaya (Youth of Altai) newspaper
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://culture.pravda.ru/culture/2003/4/67/191/6315_quin.html
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