Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985
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In the early 1980s, Freddie Mercury and Michael shared a brief but intense friendship. It almost culminated in the Queen star collaborating on some tracks for the 1982 Thriller album. He later revealed that he had worked on not one but three tracks three tracks but admitted: “I think one of the tracks would have been on the Thriller album if I finished it but I missed out.” The King of Pop famously told Rolling Stone magazine at the time,”I’m a Freddie Mercury fan.”He was also a huge fan of one of Queen’s most iconic tracks, which he heard before it was released and went on to champion. Freddie later said: “Credit for the song should go to Michael Jackson in many ways.”
It’s easy to think that Bohemian Rhapsody is Queen’s biggest song of all time. It is certainly one of the best-selling and most iconic anthems of all time – but it’s actually John Deacon’s Another One Bites The Dust that was listed as the band’s biggest-selling song for decades.
Although it peaked at number seven on the UK charts in 1980, it was a monster smash in the US, where it hit the top spot and spent thirteen weeks in the top five.
Over forty years later, Brian and Roger are celebrating the news today that the song has smashed a major milestone – and none of it might have happened without MJ.
Both Brian and Roger posted jubilant messages today after Another One Bites The Dust has passed over one billion streams on Spotify.
Brian said: “Wow ! Another World Record bites the Dust ! Thanks dear folks for keeping us part of the family.”
Roger, as succinct as always, added his own “Wow.”
But back in 1980 Queen had been divided over Another One Bites The Dust when recording album The Game.
Roger famously, was unhappy about Freddie and John’s attempts to move the band towards a more funk sound, especially when this particular track used his recorded drum loop rather than live playing.
In the end, the track boosted Queen’s profile even higher in the US, and the band has acknowledged the crucial role played by Michael Jackson.
When John first brought the song before the band, it was Freddie who immediately recognised its potential.
Brian said: “Freddie would certainly fight for things he believed in. Like Another One Bites the Dust which was a bit of a departure for Queen. Roger, at the time, certainly felt that it wasn’t rock and roll and was quite angry at the way it was going. And Freddie said, ‘Darling, leave it to me. I believe in this.’ John had written the song. But it took Freddie’s support to make it happen.”
Brian described how Freddie attacked the vocals and arrangements in “a fantastic bit of work” but none of them were prepared for how the song began to bring in a whole new audience and Freddie said: “Credit for the song should go to Michael Jackson in many ways.”
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Freddie once described how two of the biggest music stars on the planet got together: “He used to come and see our shows at the Forum in LA. I guess he likes us. So I got to meet him and he kept coming to see us. We started talking.”
A friendship developed and the pair woud go out for dinner together. While the Thriller collaboration never happened, MJ was instrumental in encouraging Freddie to explore new sounds.
Freddie said: “He was a fan and friend of ours and kept telling me, ‘Freddie, you need a song the cats can dance to.’
“John introduced this riff to us during rehearsal that we all immediately thought of disco, which was very popular at the time. We worked it out and once it was ready, played it for Michael. I knew we had a hit as he bobbed his head up and down. ‘That’s it, that’s the gravy. Release it and it will top the charts,’ he said. So we did and it did.”
The track picked up airplay on urban radio stations in the major cities including New York, propelling it to 31 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 – the longest spent by any song that year.
Brian credited with the song’s success with having an extraordinary effect on the main album’s sales: “Suddenly we were forced to put out this single because so many stations in New York were playing it. It changed that album from being a million-seller to being a three-million seller in a matter of three weeks or so.”
The latest Spotify news reinforces the enduring appeal of the track which is now regarded as the band’s second biggest-selling track of all time with estimates putting sales at 22.2 million.
It comes hard on the heels of the news that Bohemain Rhapsody was certifoied Diamond status in the US for sales exceeding ten million, making Queen the first UK band to achieve that landmark ahead even of the Beatles.
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