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The Who, Queen Highlight Rock-Heavy Olympic Closing Ceremony

The Who
Jeff J Mitchell, Getty Images

The Who and Queen performed in person at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics tonight (Aug.12), putting a fitting capper on what was a classic rock-heavy evening of music and fireworks.

The music of Queen, specifically their departed frontman Freddie Mercury, serenaded the crowd early in the two-and-half-hour ceremony via the opening segment of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ This brief snippet was followed up quickly with a live children’s choir joining a video of John Lennon performing ‘Imagine.’

The Kaiser Chiefs showed up a bit later to do a pretty darn good version of the Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard.’ As if that wasn’t enough classic rock, David Bowie made an appearance — don’t get too excited, only via old photos and a medley of his greatest hits — as a group of supermodels strutted across the stage. (We’re not saying the whole ceremony made sense.)

As promised, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason later led an all-star group (including Genesis member Mike Rutherford) through a reading of ‘Wish You Were Here’ that ended up with two men on a tightrope recreating the “flaming handshake” scene from Floyd’s 1975 album of the same name.

We’re still not done. English comedian Russell Brand performed the Beatles‘ ‘I Am the Walrus,’ and as much as we enjoy his sense of humor, it’ll be the middle of the week before that makes any kind of sense. And then, finally, it was time for some real, (at least partially live) rock music.

After a vintage 1986 video of Mercury revving up a London concert audience, Queen’s Brian May showed off his guitar skills alone for a while, before drummer Roger Taylor launched into the beat for ‘We Will Rock You.’ English pop star Jessie J — we’d never heard of her before, either — handled vocals for the tune, but luckily her over-emoting was soon drowned out by the enthusiastic crowd.

Although it didn’t air on American TV along with the rest of the evening’s ceremony, the Who closed out the event by performing ‘Baba O’Riley’, ‘See Me, Feel Me,’ ‘Listening To You’ and ‘My Generation.’ Kinks frontman Ray Davies also appeared, performing the band’s classic ‘Waterloo Sunset.’

Next: The Story Behind the Who's Famous Logo

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