Twenty-five years ago, English rock band Queen released one final classic album, Innuendo, with their original line-up of Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor, reported Rolling Stones. Innuendo fell into fans’ laps like a saving grace following the hijacking of Deacon’s signature bass line from Under Pressure, the group’s 1981 collaborative single with David Bowie, for Vanilla Ice’s 1990 pop-rap mega-hit Ice Ice Baby.
Following the death of Queen’s dear friend Bowie from liver cancer just days after the release of his final album, Blackstar, some compared the record’s tragic trajectory to that of Innuendo, released just nine months before Mercury himself passed away. Rumours of Mercury’s declining health were rampant given his sickly presentation during appearances in the late Eighties. Yet, reports of his failing condition were persistently denied, with Taylor insisting that Mercury was healthy and working. “Freddie found an amazing tranquility, and I never really heard him complain,” May later proclaimed in a 2011 BBC documentary on Queen, Days of Our Lives.
The Beatles jump into world of online streaming
Much like Blackstar, to listen to Innuendo isn’t to be confronted with the sorrow of a man with one foot in the grave. Rather, the album comes off as the work of an artist staring sickness right in the eye and vowing to “keep working until I drop,” as Mercury was once quoted as saying.
The heavy edge to the album, according to May in a 1991 promotional video on the making of Innuendo, was partially inspired by his listening to the likes of such late-Eighties guitar maestros as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. But May’s playing on the record transcends bald-faced showmanship, providing a quintessential testament to how he and Mercury were two halves of a perfect whole on the frontlines of Queen, complemented by the excellent rhythm section of Deacon and Taylor.
“We’ve always been stronger together,” Roger Taylor stated in that promo video. “I feel very lucky that we’ve had those fantastic times. [Freddie] was just a tower of energy, really. Working with him, he always gets the best out of you and drives you, and inspires those around.”
These Are the Days of Our Lives became Innuendo’s most significant single, given that it was released on Mercury’s 45th birthday, and marked the last time his fans were able to see the singer in the music video. It was filmed in May of ’91 during the final stages of his battle with AIDS. However, even during his sickness, Mercury wanted record more work. “The sicker he got, the more he seemed he needed to record,” explained Taylor in the BBC documentary on the band.
After seeing how well-received Innuendo was in its first two weeks out, Mercury pressed the band to strike while the iron was hot and work on new material. “Freddie at the time said, ‘Write me stuff, I know I don’t have very long,’” May proclaimed in Days of Our Lives. “’Keep writing me words, keep giving me things, I will sing, I will sing. And then you do what you like with it afterwards and finish it off.’”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2016.
Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ