As Queen took the stage, Roger Taylor would ask from behind his drumset, “ready Freddie?” Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, and his bandmates would then proceed to entertain fans who were lucky enough to see the infamous rock band live. The phrase “ready Freddie” even showed up as a lyric in the group’s first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 US chart in 1980 where “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” would remain for four weeks until Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” rightfully took the top spot. (No offense Queen. You’re one of my favorites as well.) While the chart-topping hit “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” may have amassed some popularity for the phrase, “ready Freddie” has been around in one form or another for a long time.
In the August 9th, 1923 edition of the Decatur Herald newspaper, an article gives specific instructions for creating a Ready Freddy doll. The doll’s name (desk organizer that you sew together yourself to hold a ruler, notepad, and pencils) is probably the first publicized use of Ready Freddy. Though the phrase was used as the named of the Ready Freddy doll, the phrase itself continued to show up in a variety of places; including the Li’l Abner comic strip. The comic strip that centered around a fictional clan of impoverished hillbillies in the mountain village of Dogpatch, USA ran from 1934 to 1977. In the comic strip, “Ready for Freddie” would appear on shop windows and in a variety of different places. After many weeks of speculation as to who Freddie was, it was revealed that Freddie was the undertaker.
The term ‘ready teddy’ was a popular phrase in the 1950s and was popularized by the up-tempo rock-n-roll standard “Ready Teddy”. The song, written by John Marascalco and Robert Blackwell, was popularized by Little Richard in 1956 but it was immortalized by Elvis Presley when he performed Little Richard’s hit when he first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for an estimated 60 million TV viewers. By 1961, the phrase can continue to thank music for its continuing popularity when trumpeter Freddie Hubbard released his album Ready for Freddie and of course, the aforementioned Queen hit whose lyric “Until I’m ready (Ready Freddie)” is what fueled me to look into the history of this blog in the first place. Coming full circle, the inspiration for the song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was Elvis Presley who died two years before Freddie Mercury wrote the song for their 1980 album The Game.
I am sure when I heard my mom say “ready for Freddy” in my childhood that this was an amalgamation of all of the above influences and had absolutely nothing to do with the 1988 song “Are You Ready for Freddy?” by The Fat Boys. The song was used as a theme for the 1988 slasher film A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and the Freddy in this instance is about horror legend, Freddy Krueger. Parts of the rap song were even performed by Robert Englund as the Freddy Krueger character. And while the phrase my mom said so many times, has had many influences throughout the years; I think it will always be ready (ready Freddie) to be on the tip of anyone’s tongue.
Featured Image – Fred Flintstone attributed to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39713626
Screen shot of archive image of Ready Freddy article from The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois), Aug 09, 1923 accredited to Source.
Freddie Mercury in New Haven, 1978 by https://weheartit.com/entry/58777168 – FreddieMercurySinging21978.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7798754
Elvis Presley and Ed Sullivan in New York City, October 26, 1956 accredited to CBS – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46927605
Logo for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 – The Dream Master by Unknown – http://www.movielogos.beepworld.de/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42930049
Freddy Krueger as seen during costume contest at Spooky Empire Ultimate Horror Weekend in Orlando, Florida by Sam Howzit – Freddy Krueger, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38889901