Queen Reveals Untold Story of David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” Collaboration

They share the untold story of the song

Author: Scott ColothanPosted on August 27, 2021
Last updated on August 27, 2021

Queen shared the untold story of how a drunken jam session culminated in their flagship collaboration with David Bowie, “Under Pressure”.

Since mid-March, Queen has been sharing a series of “Queen The Greatest” videos on YouTube celebrating the group’s 50 greatest moments so far as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.

This afternoon (August 27), the legendary band released Episode 24 of their timeless anthem “Under Pressure”, which became Queen’s second UK number 1 single upon release in 1981 and the third of David Bowie.

Featuring rarely seen archival interviews with David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and recent interviews with Brian May and Roger Taylor, the video details how the song came about.

In 1981, Queen had bought the famous Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, and it was studio engineer Dave Richards who made an impromptu phone call to David Bowie to invite him while he was in town.

David Bowie says in an archive clip, “They were recording over there and, David (Richards) knew I was in town, and called me up and asked if I would come, if I would like to come down and see what was going on. So I went down and these things happen, you know, all of a sudden you’re writing something together and it was totally spontaneous, it sure wasn’t planned. It was special!

Roger Taylor comments in the clip: “Well I think the process was that we were all drunk, and in the studio, and we were just having fun playing all kinds of old songs.

“I remember some old Cream songs, and everything that came through our heads, and I think David said, ‘Look, wait a minute, why don’t we write one of our own? “”

Freddie Mercury: “We were having fun, and then we kind of muddied the waters and suddenly we said:

Producer Reinhold Mack: “Then there’s the pressure from His Majesty, David, to be there, and everyone wanted to look sweet and quick with ideas and stuff. “

Brian May says, “Deacy (John Deacon) sure found this riff, ding, ding, ding, de de, ding, ding.”

However, due to their debauchery antics, Roger Taylor said John Deacon couldn’t remember the iconic riff soon after.

“(He) we went for pizza and he forgot it!” Says Roger. “She got away from him completely. We came back and I remembered it.

Brian May adds, “And of course we’re used to playing together, and now we have this other guy (David Bowie) there, who’s also coming in, going in, going in.”

Roger Taylor: “David’s idea of ​​putting all that clicks and claps, and then just, the kind of track grew.

Brian May: “And at that point David was very passionate and he had a vision in mind, I think. It’s a pretty difficult process and someone has to back off, and in fact I have backed off, which is unusual for me.

After its release in October 1981, “Under Pressure” became a staple of Queen’s live performances. David Bowie and Annie Lennox performed the track at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert with Brian May and Roger Taylor.

Take a look at Queen’s incredible career:

1973: The Queen’s First Days

One of the first photos of Queen (Brian May, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor) posing next to an iconic British phone booth. Drummer Roger Taylor sits on a mailbox.

July 1973: Rehearsal of their first album

Queen released their self-titled debut album in July 1973. The band recorded the album at Trident Studios mainly during downtime, as the studios were very popular. They were able to use the equipment free of charge when the artists left.

1974: Queen performs for the first time in the United States

Queen kicked off her first concerts in the United States by supporting era hitmakers Mott The Hoople. Brian May and Freddie Mercury are pictured here on stage in New York City.

October 1974: Queen on Top Of The Pops

Queen performed her single ‘Killer Queen’ on Top Of The Pops in October 1974. It was their second time on the hit show. Their first television appearance came in February 1974 when they replaced David Bowie in Top Of The Pops after canceling his own performance. Queen, who was an unknown band at the time, performed “Seven Seas of Rhye”.

1975: Freddie in his Holland Park home

Freddie is pictured relaxing at his home at 100 Holland Road, near Holland Park in London. He wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody” while living here.

April 1975: the queen visits Japan for the first time

The group’s first tour of Japan began in April 1975 and it was the first time they were exposed to their Japanese fans. Upon arrival at the airport, they were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans, later dubbed “Queen Mania”.

March 1976: Queen celebrates her album ‘A Night At The Opera’ in Japan

Queen attends a reception hosted by Elektra Records ahead of their first show in Tokyo on their second tour of Japan, celebrating their album “A Night At The Opera”.

September 1976: Queen promotes the album “A Day At The Races”

Queen attends the races at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey to promote their fifth studio album “A Day At The Races”.

January 1977: Queen’s most extravagant tour to date

Queen spent the first half of 1977 embarking on the A Day At The Races tour. They were supported by Thin Lizzy during their dates in North America.

February 1977: Queen sells Madison Square Garden in seconds

Queen achieved one of their biggest ambitions and performed at Madison Square Gardens in New York City to a full house. They sold their tickets for the show at this legendary venue within moments.

June 1977: Queen’s most extravagant tour to date

Queen returned to England for the final concerts of her world tour. Freddie Mercury is pictured here in the now famous harlequin bodysuit on stage at Earl’s Court in London.

April 1979: Backstage in Tokyo

Queen poses backstage on her jazz tour in Tokyo, Japan. The Jazz Tour supported their album “Jazz” which was released in November 1978 and included hits such as “Bicycle Race” and “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

October 1982: Hot Space Tour and Queen’s last concerts in North America

Freddie poses on the platform at Osaka Station before heading to Nagoya on the Hot Space tour. This tour marked the group’s last concerts in North America with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon.

October 1982: Backstage in Japan

Another image of Freddie behind the scenes of the Hot Space Tour in Japan. The band performed six nights in Japan and their last show of the tour was in Tokorozawa at Seibu Lions Stadium.

September 1984: Queen at Wembley

Queen performed at Wembley Arena in September 1984 as part of “The Works Tour” which followed their eleventh studio album of the same name.

January 1985: Queen title Rock in Rio

Queen poses in Rio ahead of the Rock in Rio festival. The group was headlining the first night of the very first Rock in Rio festival in 1985.

January 1985: Queen plays the biggest show yet

Queen started 1985 with two huge titles at the Rock In Rio festival in Brazil. The group performed in front of around 300,000 people for two nights.

July 1985: Queen performs for the first time at Live Aid and Wembley

Queen performs at Live Aid AND their very first time on the Wembley stage. Maybe the most famous Queen concert wasn’t even theirs. Freddie and co stole the show!

July 1985: The Queen watches the aid live among famous faces

Founded by Bod Geldof and Midge Ure, the event took place simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and John F Kennedy Stadium in the United States. Queen has performed at Wembley alongside a huge list of acts including David Bowie, Status Quo, Boomtown Rats, Elvis Costello, Paul Young, U2, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John. The Queen is pictured here with David Bowie and was seated behind Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

July 1986: Queen’s last tour with Freddie

The Magic Tour supported the group’s album “A Kind Of Magic” and was Queen’s last tour with frontman Freddie Mercury and bassist John Deacon. Queen did not tour again until the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour began 19 years later. Over a million people attended the tour, making it one of the biggest ever!

August 1986: Queen’s last concert with Freddie Mercury

Queen last performed with frontman Freddie Mercury on August 9, 1986. The show, which was called A Night of Summer Magic, was the last date on Queen’s European tour in support of the album ‘A Kind Of Magic ‘.

1987: Ivor Novello Prize

In 1987, Queen won the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music at the Ivor Novello Awards.

February 1990: Freddie’s last public appearance

It was the last official public appearance of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. This was the 11th annual BRIT Awards which took place at Earls Court in London. Although rumors about Freddie’s health had been circulating for years, only his bandmates knew the extent of his illness.

2004-2009: Queen + Paul Rodgers collaboration

From 2004 to 2009, Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor were joined by singer Paul Rodgers for live performances. John Deacon did not participate due to his retirement in 1997.

July 2014: Reine and Adam Lambert

Queen has performed with singer Adam Lambert since 2011 and began a world tour in 2014. Active Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor said Adam Lambert was not replacing Freddie Mercury, but was an active member of the group.

2021: Queen and Adam Lambert to release new music?

In April 2021, Brian May revealed that Queen had been working on new music with Adam Lambert in the studio, although nothing good had come of it yet. Watch this place!

Read more:

20 facts you probably didn’t know about Freddie Mercury

5 of our favorite Queen live performances

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