Bruce Gowers, director of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ music video and ‘American Idol,’ dies at 82

Bruce Gowers, the Emmy and Grammy winner who directed over nine seasons of american idol and hundreds of music videos, including groundbreaking “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen, is dead. He was 82.


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Gowers died Sunday in Santa Monica of complications from an acute respiratory infection, his family announced.

Gowers also directed and co-created the long-running series of Kidsong sing-along videos for Warner Bros. Recording with his wife, Carol Rosenstein.

A specialist in live events and television specials, Gowers has directed and/or produced the Emmys, Billboard Music Awards, MTV’s Music Video and Movie Awards, the ESPYs, the People’s Choice Awards and many other award shows.

He called the shots for 234 episodes of american idol from 2002-11, from its first season to its 10th, according to IMDb, and won its Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Series, Musical or Comedy in 2009.

His Grammy trophy came in 1986 for his work on the music video for Huey Lewis and the News’ “Heart of Rock and Roll.” Eight years later, he received a DGA award for directing the CBS special Genius: A Night for Ray Charles.

Along the way, he directed comedy specials from Richard Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy and Paula Poundstone and music offerings from Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.

Gowers’ take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, recorded at Elstree Studios in London in November 1975 in around three hours for the BBC’s Top of the Popshelped Freddie Mercury and his peers found superstardom and proved to be a defining moment in the history of the music video industry.

It was the first music video ever aired by the influencer Top of the Popsand he said he got $590 for the gig.

“It changed the way music was perceived; everyone was making videos and bands saw their sales and charts increase if their videos were good,” he told that Daily mail in 2018.

“The only thing that bothers me is that they’ve been using my video for 40 years and they’ve never paid me a dime or said thank you.”

Gowers also directed music videos for Rod Stewart (“Hot Legs” and more), Michael Jackson (“Rock With You”), Prince (“1999”), John Mellencamp (“Jack and Diane”), The Rolling Stones (“Fool to Cry”), Rush (“Limelight”, “Tom Sawyer”), Ambrosia (“How Much I Feel”), 10cc (“I’m Not in Love”), Bee Gees (“How Deep Is Your Love”), Supertramp (“Goodbye Stranger”), Chaka Kahn (“I’m Every Woman”), Peaches and Herb (“Reunited” ), Journey (“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezein'”) and The Tubes (“Prime Time”).

Gowers was born on Dec. 21, 1940, in New Kilbride, Scotland, where his British parents, Robert, an educator, and Violet, a homemaker, were stationed during World War II. He grew up in Enfield, north London, and graduated from The Latymer School.

He attended the BBC Training College and started his career at the BBC as a cabler, cameraman and production manager before landing producing and directing positions at Rediffusion and London Weekend Television.

Gowers moved to the US in the 70s and met Rosenstein on the set of the music video for Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night”. He also worked with Elton John, The Pretenders, Santana, Van Halen, REO Speedwagon, Christopher Cross, Genesis and Fleetwood Mac during his career.

For the past 23 years, he and Rosenstein have lived in Malibu.

In addition to his wife, survivors are his daughter, Katharine; son Sean; grandchildren Sean Jr., Robert, Charlotte and Layla; his former wife, Charlene; and his beloved bulldogs, Baby and Rocky, and the parrot, Polly.

A memorial service is being planned. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to World Central kitchen and or Southern California Bulldog Rescue.

Gowers, his family noted, “always brought boundless enthusiasm, energy, passion and joy to his work. He loved and was loved by the crews with whom he worked and was known far and wide for his generosity as a colleague, constantly encouraging and promoted the talented people on his team.

“Funny, irreverent and wonderfully honest, 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 his dogs, friends and family.”

This article originally appeared in

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