Freddie Mercury nailed the high notes on ‘The Show Must Go On’ in just a few takes after downing neat vodkas.
Queen’s late frontman – who died in 1991 from AIDS-related complications – was struggling “a lot” with his declining health when he surprised guitarist Brian May by giving his “finest performance of all time” when they recorded the hit in 1990.
He recalled: “So I presented it all to him the next time he turned up in the studio, and by that time he was suffering a lot. He could hardly stand. I played him some of the demo, with me singing, which went incredibly high and was very difficult.
In the past, Freddie was always shouting at me, like, ‘It’s too f****** high! You’re making me ruin my beautiful voice!’ So I thought he was going to shout at me this time. But he just heard it and said, I’ll f****** do that. Don’t worry.’ So he downed a couple of vodkas, neat, then propped himself up on the desk and worked his way through singing all of that song. And it was amazing.”
Brian added to Total Guitar magazine: “I think he did three or four takes, and he absolutely smashed that vocal. It’s like he reached into a place that even he’d never got to before. I remember saying to Freddie, ‘I don’t want you to hurt yourself. You know, don’t force yourself to do this if it’s not going to feel good.’ But he said, ‘I’ll f****** do it, Brian!’ And he did. And it was beautiful. I think it’s one of his finest performances of all time. It’s incredible.”
Brian and Freddie’s sister Kash are often asked why Queen carries on without Freddie, but they both believe he wouldn’t have wanted the band’s music to just become “museum pieces”.
He told the publication: “You know, I often have this conversation with Freddie’s sister, Kash.
“She gets those questions as well; ‘Why are they doing this without Freddie?’ And she completely gets what we’re doing. She says, ‘This is what Freddie would have wanted. He would not want have wanted his songs or the band’s songs to become museum pieces. He would have wanted them to live.’ And that’s what we’re doing. We make the Queen legacy live. Absolutely.”
Adam Lambert serves as frontman on their tours.
He continued: “The last tour we did was fantastic.
“Probably the biggest arena tour we’ve ever done, and the most exciting in terms of all the shows being sold out and the energy in those audiences. The thing is, people want live music. They need live music. And we’re happy to go on supplying it as long as we can.
“As long as I’m alive, I’ll be there!”