Interviews: Queen: BBC Radio 2 '98
We Are The Champions:
"I've paid my dues time after time .........
No time for losers cos we are the champions of the world."
BRIAN: We just had a long long list of names and the one that made everybody sit up, either in approbation or horror, was Queen.
Background music: Radio Ga Ga
It had a sort of regal sound to it. A strength to it.
ROGER: We always used to say, the whole is greater then the sum of the parts, and it was absolutely the case. As soon as we played together it was like an interlocking piece of machinery and it just suddenly it just became something else and I think it worked very well.
BRIAN: I think the idea was that we didn't want to fit into any bracket - we didn't want to be pigeonholed at all. So if Queen was a kind of confusing image, we thought that was probably a good thing.
ROGER: The music sort of did come first. All the other stuff was just literally dressing. We wanted to sort of fuse the heaviness and rawness of like a Led Zeppelin, with the sort of melodic, harmonic thing.
ALEX LESTER: Hello, this is Alex Lester, with the story of one of the world's most successful rock groups - Queen. In the programme we're going to be hearing the voices of the band's drummer, Roger Taylor, and guitarist, Brian May.
BRIAN: Well I grew up with British radio, as it was in those days, in the early 50s, (chuckles) which was a strange mish mash of stuff. A bit of kind of light classical, a bit of English music hall remainder, a lot of American stuff coming in and er I suppose the remains of big band stuff, and all that kind of caper.
I'd sit alone...
I heard it on my radio.
BRIAN: The stuff which really caught my imagination was the American stuff, I suppose. Everything else went in but when Little Richard came around, and Buddy Holly and things like Rick Nelson and Elvis records, I started to hear the guitar in those records, but most of all the guitar I suppose, and that's what I wanted to be part of really. I was hooked I think, from the age of about 6 or 7. Yeah, I think I lived a whole lifetime in my imagination in those days, you know, imaginary romances, (laughs) you know conquering the world, or whatever......
AL: And the group's drummer to be, Roger Taylor, shared many of the same ambitions and influences.
ROGER: Early rock and roll. Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and actually strangely enough, when I was a mere dot, Bill Hayley and the Comets - I mean I just I remember hearing Rock Around The Clock on the radio and I was I don't know how old I was, very young - 5 or 6...... I just thought it was fantastic. I started playing on my mother's upturned saucepans and then I sort of sat in with a group at about of 12 and then I sort of got in a group about 13 and then played in semi-pro groups, eventually having my own band, you know, sort of through school up to 18.
BRIAN: Me and my dad made a guitar - yeah (laughs) out of junk. Pieces of fireplace and motorbike valves, all sorts of stuff that was lying around in my dad's garage. But the surprising thing was that it worked and it still works - its been round the world with me many times now - and because of what we put into and probably also by a certain amount of luck, it has a particular sound. It really does. It has some kind of feel and sound, and that um is the basis of what I've sounded like all those years.
ROGER: I met Brian very soon, probably in the first fortnight of College, um, my flat mate, one of my flat mates was at Imperial where Brian was, and just saw a notice on the notice board saying "Mitch Mitchell type drummer wanted", and he put me in touch. I mean, Brian and I met in the Students Union Bar at Imperial College and got on immediately, and that was the beginning of the band Smile, which we formed with another art student, Tim Staffell.
BRIAN: That was our first really serious band. We were still semi-pro, but we got a record contract with an American company called Mercury. They released one record from us, and I think they must have pressed all of 12 copies, cos it just didn't happen in any shape, manner or form. And we were very disappointed. We were disappointed with the management situation as well and it was just a rather sad end sort of end to our dreams in a sense.
AL: The band was on the verge of giving up altogether, and probably would have done so, had it not been for Freddie Mercury.
ROGER: He came along with our then singer in Smile. They were mates at Art College and er he was just irrepressible, very keen, and er, when we actually eventually broke up, he'd been through a couple of bands, I think he'd always thought that he and Brian and I would have made a good axis, you know, good sort of um team, and so that we formed the basis of Queen after Smile split up really, I suppose on Freddie's - Freddie was a prime mover there I suppose.
BRIAN: Yeah, well Freddie um, from a Parsee background, as everybody knows now, had been raised in Zanzibar, which was an English colony of a kind in those days, and he'd been subjected to a lot of the same records that we had, like he'd had Elvis and Cliff Richard and urm, Little Richard and stuff, urm but a few other things besides. He'd had a bit of formal piano training, same as I had actually, strangely enough, but he'd also had a lot of that sort of broad orchestral stuff, urm, which we'd also had in England at that time, I mean I'm thinking of things like Mantovani (laughs), which was an influence, actually, so he had quite a bunch of stuff to draw on did Freddie. When I met him he was excited about Hendrix, um, but his models were probably Elvis and Cliff Richard
ROGER: (laughs) He used to call himself a Kensington Ponce. I'm not sure if he had the exact definition of ponce correctly but um, yeah, we used to float around Kensington High Street and around there, which was a lot trendier then, in sort of velvet cloaks and things.
BRIAN: Eventually our singer had left anyway, Tim, so we got together with Freddie, this is Freddie, Roger and I, and started seeing what would happen. We hired a lecture theatre in the College where I was, Imperial College, London, and every week or a couple of times a week we'd go in and thrash a few things out. The beginnings of writing our our stuff, kicking a few other things around, and it was obvious that Freddie really did have something by that time.
I have sinned dear father......
Why don't you leave me alone.
ROGER: The music sort of did come first. All the other stuff was just literally dressing and er I don't know we wanted to fuse the heaviness and rawness of like a Led Zeppelin type thing with the sort of um melodic harmonic thing that some bands were into as well, that that nobody had actually fused the two. You were either in those days a sort of Deep Purple of something, or you were sort of a Crosby Stills and Nash.
BRIAN: The 3 of us played round quite a bit and we tried various bass players, none of whom really seemed to work out, and um, (sighs heavily) we actually played a few demonstration concerts to about a hundred people - just invited guests - and we tried to invite people down there who might be able to give us a break, like record company people, management people, none of whom ever bothered to turn up. (Laughs) You know, we had no contacts. We had no bridge to um, to the music business as such. We could see all these records coming out. People doing great concerts, and we had no idea how to get into that um circle, so what we decided to do was to get good, get good enough, so that if the break came we would be ready and we would be something different. And eventually we found John - just through friends. John Deacon was there, very quiet young guy, but obviously a very tasteful bass player, very thoughtful, very musical, um, very shy in those days, and he just seemed to be the guy.
ROGER: We always used to say the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and it was absolutely the case. As soon as we played together it, it was like an interlocking piece of machinery and it just suddenly it became something else and worked very well.
AL: Yet despite their obvious abilities, the group found it very difficult to break into the big time.
BRIAN: The one contact we had with the record business was that my girlfriend knew this guy, who was working for some people who were setting up a studio. And he rang me up one day and said, "Brian, if you guys want to come in and make some noise while we do some acoustic, and test the systems of the studio, we'll make you a demo. We'll do you four tracks." So that was it.
AL: And it was largely on the strength of that demo that Queen obtained a management deal and eventually a record deal with EMI. There were long and frustrating delays before the group's first records were released. However, when they eventually came out, Queen and Queen II were well received and a single, Seven Seas of Rhye, reached number 10 in the UK charts.
Seven Seas Of Rhye:
Begone with you, ye lords and lady preachers.........
BRIAN: We wanted to do something which was melodic and harmonic, powerful in the texture of the voices, and I had this thing about guitar harmonies, which I wanted to do, and underneath all of that was the kind of raw, fairly dirty rock sound, and we wanted to combine all of those things, and we felt that no one ever had.
ROGER: Yes I suppose that was our first proper hit in this country. I never understood a word of it, and I don't think Freddie did either, but it was just sort of gestures really, but it was, it was a fine song. It was a real goer to, uh, but our first sort of real hit, bit hit, International hit, was Killer Queen, and that was a song which we spent ages literally sort of crafting, and er, I think it shows. I think it still sounds good today. Its you know its well played, it sounds good, its well sung, harmonies are good and its got a very original lyric. I think its er, stands up well.
She keeps her Moet et Chandon.......
Guaranteed to blow your mind, anytime
BRIAN: Queen II had been quite an explosion for us in the use of the studio. Sheer Heart Attack was album number 3 and for Sheer Heart Attack, we thought we'd go the other way. We'll make it very accessible.
ROGER: There was no single breakthrough, really. I suppose we had a hit on the second album. We felt the second album was was a breakthrough in the way we approached writing and recording and then, which I thought we actually did better on the third album, so we'd actually sort of mastered the techniques on the third album, having explored them on the second.
In a way I'm always quite surprised that we're not included in these sort of Glam Rock, um, things when they are making a programme about the days of glam rock they don't include us, and I'm very pleased about that.
BRIAN: I think the idea was that we didn't wanna fit into any bracket, we didn't wanna be pigeon-holed at all, so if Queen was a kind of, um, confusing image, we thought that was probably a good thing.
ROGER: "Androgyny" was the key word at the time, and whatever that meant. Nobody really knew. It was very sort of hip to be, I don't know, slightly mysterious on gender.
BRIAN: It was kind of fashionable to pretend you were gay almost. I mean that's gonna sound very odd, but in the sort of set that we were the Art School set, you couldn't tell what people were. You know, everyone was dressing very flamboyantly and being very camp. It was kind of nice. It was perhaps the first generation that didn't care what your sexual preferences were, didn't care what your race or your colour were.
AL: We've already heard how Queen's music had developed over their first three albums but it was the fourth that was to break them world-wide as a major rock act.
BRIAN: For A Night At The Opera, we sort of returned to the Queen II um philosophy. We had our confidence, because we'd had a hit. We had a kind of almost desperation about us too, because we were totally bankrupt at that point. You know, we had made hit records but we hadn't had any of the money back and, if A Night At The Opera hadn't been the huge success it was I think we would have just disappeared under the ocean someplace. So we were making this album knowing that its, its live or die. A bit of competitive edge as well, I think - we wanted it to be our Sgt Pepper, I think, and we each individually wanted to realise our potential as writers and producers and everything.
AL: And it was this album that contained the group's biggest hit single to date.
ROGER: Bohemian Rhapsody was, although it is, I think it's a wonderful song and it's quite serious in some ways, its got a tremendous sense of humour about it, especially in the, obviously in the central sort of pastiche section, you know. That sort of mock operatic section. I mean, we thought it was hilarious when we were doing it. In fact, great, you know, quite exciting, and fun and big and quite funny. We did think it was special and it was worth spending literally weeks on recording it.
Is this the real life..........
Doesn't really matter to me, to me
BRIAN: Bohemian Rhapsody was much more Freddie's baby that anything else. It was really his dream, or nightmare or (laughs) whatever you wanna call it.
Put a gun against his head...
ROGER: There were only the three of us singing, um, it was something like 128 voices heard at one point, you know, but we were really pushing the limits of the studios. The massive multi-tracking and layering and the machines weren't really capable, the tape wasn't really capable of taking it. Um, you know cos of the massive overdubbing and recording, bouncing the tracks down, and the tape would go almost, you could almost see through it in places.
I see a little silhouetto of a man...
For me, for me, for me
BRIAN: I had quite a bit of input to the heavy part, um, although Fred did have a pretty good image of how that should be.
So you think you can stone me.........
Leave me to die
He wasn't sure that there should be a solo in there, I think, and I said that I would like to have a verse-type solo which would gradually lead into something else, and so he built that portion of the song in there.
Nothing really matters...
Any way the wind blows
It was either gonna be completely outside the formats of radio and never get played or else it was gonna break through all the barriers and er we are lucky that it did. In this country I think Kenny Everett had a lot to do with it, cos he stole a copy of it when he came to the playback and I think he played it multiple times on his radio show for the next month or so. It was a great battle to win for us, to, to make something so completely against all the rules, but win the game.
AL: Bohemian Rhapsody stayed at number one in Great Britain for a record-breaking 9 weeks and in subsequent years it's been consistently voted Britain's favourite single and recently came third in a poll to find the nation's best song lyric and a video made to promote the single is generally recognised as the first of its kind.
ROGER: Well they'd made little films. I remember the Beatles had made some film for Rain and for Strawberry Fields - little filmettes, you know, on 16 mil, but no one had used the medium of video really. I mean cos video was quite new, very new, there were no video production companies, for instance, and what we used was actually an outside broadcast unit used usually for Sports, which happened to be owned by our management company and we thought, well if we filmed, if we just made a little film of this using one of their trucks, then we could go on tour and be on Top Of The Pops.
AL: In the years following Bohemian Rhapsody Queen achieved several other Top 20 hits.
ROGER: Oh, a lot of very different ones. I mean you couldn't say they all sound the same, um, I mean Crazy Little Thing Called Love was almost like sort of early Elvis sort of pastiche really and yeah, almost "Rockabilly", you know.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love:
This thing called love...
Get ready, crazy little thing called love.
Another One Bites the Dust
Another One Bites the Dust is a sort of funk record really and um that's probably our biggest ever hit in America, so I mean you'd say, I would say that we were definitely eclectic, if nothing else.
BRIAN: Almost in every case I think you could name any Queen album and look at the singles and you would ask me if, if I thought they represented the album, and I would say "No". It's only my personal view (laughs) but um, if you wanted to know what the band were about you would have had to heard the album and not just the single.
Let's go - Steve walks...
Another one bites the dust
It was a curious tightrope that we walked really. Yes there were always people trying to put us into one category or the other. I don't know quite how it happened. I know for a fact that we generally made albums without much thought for singles and the single would only be really thought about when the album was all put together and it would just be the track that people thought was most likely to be played on the radio. I have to say I always felt that singles were a double-edged weapon. In some ways they were great because they would get you played on the radio. They would be the greatest possible advert for the album and for the tour, but the downside was that people would thing that the single represented the album musically, and it almost never did, so its to me it's a miracle that we did really keep our-um image, our image going in the right direction. It, it seems in, in retrospect that it would have been so easy for us to be just kind of dismissed as a singles band and that would have been it.
AL: In 1981 the band teamed up with David Bowie to create a number one hit with Under Pressure. Here's a recent remix of the song which appears on the group's new album, Queen+.
Turned away from it all like a blind man....
This is ourselves, under pressure, under pressure, pressure
As well as their many hit records, Queen have also enjoyed considerable success as a live band. From their earliest moments they've won a reputation as flamboyant showmen.
BRIAN: A lot of it came from Freddie. You know, Freddie's ideas about presentation were just really quite revolutionary and we all got into it. We all contributed ideas and the four of us and our stage manager, Gerry Stickells and we even wrote songs with these things in mind.
We Will Rock You:
Buddy you're a boy, make a big noise...
We will, we will rock you.
I think we'd led each other really. I think we sort of, er, fed off each other in this direction. Um, it was in Freddie's blood. He never did anything by halves.
ROGER: He was naturally theatrical and um, it, it worked in our context. It worked with our music, and new music was you know sometimes big and grandiose.
BRIAN: It was a show and it was, it was meant to be larger than life and slightly tongue in cheek in some cases, and, and we were living out what we thought people would enjoy, because we were kids too. We know, we know what we like. We went to see The Who smashing up their gear or whatever, we went to see Jimi Hendrix with his extravagant um gear you know, whoever it was. We knew what, what got us going and so we wanted to give what we liked.
ROGER: It was all about audience involvement and um, moving them may be, and er insulting them and er getting them involved really. Getting them slightly more interested than they might be, you know, just sitting back in their seats.
BRIAN: We used to plan tours for a long time in advance. We planned the set, planned what could be done with the lighting.
ROGER: We actually invested very little in special effects. We had almost, we used to do that old gimmick in the old days, you know, with the hurling of the thunderbolt, chestnut, which was so effect. All it was was just a, a piece of explosive in a flash pot on one side of the stage and Fred pretending to throw something at it. But it was so effective, which was quite simple. Um, apart from that, all we ever had was smoke and lights, and the occasional explosion. Huh! (laughs)
AL: And there were yet more fireworks at times when the four group members were discussing the band's musical direction.
BRIAN: Ah, there was always battles. The four of us were trying to get ourselves across, and yes, there were endless fights, and um, some of them were good-natured, some of them weren't. Sometimes we got really upset with each other. Um, but again it was part of the growing strength of, of what we were. Um, so when people got critical of a certain element of what we did, it really didn't touch us cos we'd already been so critical of each other. Yeah, we had a strength. We were a team.
ROGER: Yeah, I think we were lucky there. Um, I mean obviously in the beginning Freddie and Brian were the major songwriters, and John and I would contribute one or two each, you know, per album, but then we sort of grew into writing, once it became our daily life and it was very much equal at the end, in fact the last half of our career, if you want to call it that, um, we actually used to split everything just straight and then put it under a group name, which was a very grownup way of doing things and it saved of arguing and bickering really. Um, yeah, we were lucky in the fact that we all could write and we could all write the odd hit, which was helpful in the ego department. Um, it just makes for a strong unit.
AL: You're listening to The Queen Story, with me Alex Lester on Radio 2. Just now we heard Roger Taylor discussing how the members of Queen all contributed to the song writing process. Well here's a song written by Roger himself, which reached No 3 here in Britain in 1986.
A Kind Of Magic:
It's a kind of magic...
Will soon be done
ROGER: Really A Kind Of Magic was from The Highlander. It was a line in the movie and we had all the rough cuts from the movie and we were watching the different scenes while we were writing the music, and the line just stood out. They used it several times.
Its a kind of magic. The bell that rings...
The doors of time
BRIAN: Usually one song would be originated by one person and it would be then thrown into the pot, like thrown on the table or whatever, and if the rest of the group thought it was good enough it would be worked on by the group, and manhandled and torn apart, and rearranged (laughs), generally screwed around with until we all felt that we'd had an input and then the deal was that the writer of the song would have the final say. That principle worked quite well for a long time, um, but there would still be fights. I think more groups break up because of inequalities in representation on the record, like writing-wise, than any other reason. Cos you do care. You know, your songs are your babies and you want to see them grow up and learn to walk. And it's very upsetting if they don't.
AL: In 1985 Queen were approached by Bob Geldof to take part in a unique project.
ROGER: Live Aid was really, it was really just a case of Bob pestering us until we (laughs) put our hand up and said "Yeah, okay, we'll do it." And that, but it was a great idea. It was a great day, great show, and it also proved, for us, that we could be quite effective with virtually no lights, cos it was daylight, and absolutely no effects or anything, and it, you know, all we had was sound really.
BRIAN: Bob said, "This is gonna go out all over the world and people wanna hear something familiar that they like" so we put this set together, which didn't have a break, and included probably all the things that people wanted to hear.
I've paid my dues........
We are the champions my friend
BRIAN: We had to go on Live Aid naked, more or less. You know, we didn't have any lights. It was daylight, middle of the day. We didn't have our sound system. We didn't have a lot of our regular guys. We had a thrown together back line, because it had to be thrown on the stage and thrown off again, and um, we went on in jeans and shirts and whatever as us, and the fact that it worked and the whole stadium rose to it, was a big sort of confidence booster.
ROGER: Yeah, actually it did come at a very good time for us, Live Aid, cos were were pretty jaded, not peaking in general, and I think we, we'd fairly exhausted.
BRIAN: It kind of sent us back in the studio with a bit of confidence, hope, inspiration.
Cos we are the champions...
Of the world (cheering)
AL: At Live Aid Queen had virtually stolen the show. It was arguably their finest hour and the start of a new and successful phase for their career, but by the beginning of the 1990's Freddie Mercury had fallen victim to Aids. Struggling to keep his illness a secret from fans and the Press, he took part in what were to be his final recording sessions.
ROGER: It's always difficult actually to talk about that. There were so many emotions flying round at the time. It was hard, but it was also, I think it was, you know it's partially because it was what he wanted, and the, the feeling of actually having a job to do and having something to do each day, and he had a reason to get up and um, even though getting up was very difficult some days, and some days he couldn't get up, so it was very much brought us together, and it was a shared spirit of being a true band. He was determined to keep working until he dropped, which was virtually what happened.
BRIAN: It was tough, but there was a lot of joy when were doing the final recordings, and Freddie did not let it become downbeat. He was always up if it was in the recording studio, always full of ideas and enthusiasm, and great passions. The last thing I ever did together with him was that track, Mother Love, which is on Made In Heaven. It was never finished. He never came back to do the final verse, but to the end, even when he couldn't even stand, without propping himself up, he was just giving it his all. You can hear the, the incredible strength of his voice in that track, and the passion that's he putting into it. And we're making it up as we go along. You know, I'm scribbling words on pieces of paper and he's grabbing them and saying, "Roll the tape. I'll do this one." It's just, he knew that it might be the last time he was ever able to sing and, er, in that case it was.
I don't want to sleep with you....
I don't want pity, just a safe place to hide
AL: On the 23rd of November 1991 Freddie Mercury put an end to weeks of media speculation by announcing that he'd been diagnosed HIV positive and that he was suffering from Aids. His statement went on: "I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and al those world-wide in the fight against this terrible disease." The following day Freddie died at his home in London.
BRIAN: I didn't know that he had a, a gay side to him for many years, you know. That only came out later, but he had a great passion for women when we first met him, and great passion for men later on and, I mean, Freddie had a passion for - Freddie didn't do anything by halves. He just believed in going for it and, (sighs) it eventually did put him in danger, of course, but that's not because of any kind of (sighs) - You know, I don't think it's right to make any moral pronouncements about this. You know, the guy lived passionately, and in every sense lived life to the full.
ROGER: He was very brave and he wanted it, you know, he wanted to keep his, his illness as private as he could really. He didn't want to be the object of scrutiny, um, by the Press and whatever.
These Are The Days Of Our Lives:
Those were the days of our lives...
And I find I still love you
These Are The Days, yeah, um, well that was, became a No 1 in its own right. It was just on the back of, when we re-released Bohemian Rhapsody, um, as a sort of charity thing, just after Freddie died actually. It was a sort of hit over again and then it was a sort of, it was one of those flip things, and er people caught onto the other side and that, that got onto the radio a lot and that became the A side then.
AL: In April 1992 the surviving members of Queen put on a special performance at Wembley Stadium before a live audience of 70,000 people, as well as millions of television viewers in over 70 countries. The line up included George Michael, Bob Geldof, David Bowie, Lisa Stansfield and many other top stars.
BRIAN: It was a huge task to put it together - the Tribute Show, um, but very interesting, very stimulating. All these great people coming in to sing, um, some of whom were our heroes and Freddie's heroes, and some of whom regarded us as heroes.
ROGER: George sounded so uncannily like Freddie, on Somebody To Love, I, at one point I thought "God, that's eerie." I mean, the notes, the high notes, the swooping ones are absolutely um, almost impossible to tell them apart. But George actually said, you know, he grew up listening to Freddie and um, so, so I suppose, you know, he'd probably, it was, wasn't that hard for him to assume that persona, yeah.
BRIAN: He sounded incredible coming out of the monitors, I remember. You know you think of George Michael as quite a mellow singer, but he able to summon up the power to rise above the, the racket that we make on stage (laughs) and he was really impressive, I must say. I remember hearing him on the night, just coming out the vocal monitors, and he sounded great.
Sobemody To Love:
I got no feel, I got no rhythm...
Find me somebody to-oo-oo-oo love
I remember it was Joe Elliot who grabbed my arm as we were just coming off stage after we'd bowed at the end, and Joe said "Brian, stop and look. You will never see or hear the like of that again. This a moment which is never gonna come back. Just look at that crowd", he'd going, "Just look at them".
Somebody to love
ROGER: That one is on the Greatest Hits 3, yeah. We've actually called it "Queen+", cos its a difficult thing, you know, to, what do you call it, you know, it's not all, they don't all have Freddie on them. So we thought, you know, we'd actually include these collaborations, so we've got quite a good, you know, quite good singers on there really, er, David Bowie, George Michael, Elton John, Montserrat Caballe. It's quite, it's fairly impressive (laughs) list, and they're just the replacements.
AL: With several recordings featuring Freddie Mercury still awaiting completion, Brian May, Roger Taylor and bass player, John Deacon, eventually returned to the studios to work on the Made In Heaven album.
You Don't Fool Me:
You don't fool me
BRIAN: That was very tough. Doing the Made In Heaven album when Freddie was not around and hearing his voice every day. It was kind of torture some of the time. You would get through it after a while, but then it would come back. You'd hear him laughing on a little out-take or something and you'd think "Ah, shit, why isn't he here." It was very tough. Very sad. Um - but the album has his presence all through it. We worked very hard to achieve that and I think we managed to achieve a group album, even though he wasn't there. I would never do it again. It took (sigh) probably two and a half years of my life to - er - assemble some of that stuff. It wasn't easy.
You don't fool me, those pretty eyes...
You're telling lies, you don't fool me
ROGER: Yeah - You Don't Fool Me, um, turned out quite well. That really was sort of um, put together after - it, was quite a skeleton that we had on that one and, er, that was really sort of made 'after the fact', if you know what I mean. Actually it became incredibly successful in um, or popular, in, over Europe I think, more so than this country. It's actually, I, I quite enjoyed that one.
AL: The issue of these last tracks, featuring Freddie, effectively marked the end of Queen's existence as a band. However, in January 1997, Brian, Roger and John reformed the group for one very special occasion. The vocalist was to be none other than Elton John.
ROGER: He said, "Will you come along and do this, we can", cos it was the opening of a wonderful ballet by Maurice Bejart, and, er, based on the music of the ballet is, is mainly our music and er, a bit of Mozart. So we appeared at the end, er, with Elton, and did The Show Must Go On, and the show is a tribute to um, one of the great ballet dancers and Freddie himself as well, so it, it was a good evening. It was very uplifting.
BRIAN: And you can hear the tension on this record. You can hear that it's a very emotional moment. Elton was great, um, gave it his all, and we did too, and I find it quite moving.
Show Must Go On:
Empty space, what are we living for...
Show must go on, show must go on. (cheering)
AL: The Show Must Go On by Queen, with Elton John on lead vocals, recorded in Paris in January 1997, and bringing the Queen Story to a fitting close here on Radio 2.
I'm Alex Lester, and in the programme you also heard the voices of Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor..
ROGER: I think I, you know, feel very lucky. Had a great, wonderful career. I just, I think I've had a great life and a lucky life and it's not over yet.
AL: And guitarist, Brian May.
BRIAN: Obviously I feel sad, but I feel proud and happy and totally unapologetic. I will never in my life be apologising for anything that we did. I'm completely behind every avenue that we went down, and um, every risk that we took.
AL: The Queen Story was an independent production for Radio 2 by Robin Quinn.
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