According to Youtube “Queen the Greatest” series, David Bowie’s collaboration with Queen began as an impulsive decision. In July 1981, Queen was recording in Montreux, Switzerland, and Bowie was invited to drop by and watch the band at work. “Suddenly you’re writing something together and it was totally spontaneous, it definitely wasn’t planned. It was special!” Bowie said in archive footage included in the episode. Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor remembered the night as both a party atmosphere and a jam session. “We were all drunk,” Taylor recalled in the documentary. After playing a variety of tunes, he recalls Bowie suggesting they write something new.
Queen guitarist Brian May credits the band’s bassist John Deacon with kicking things off by crafting a catchy bassline, par Weekly entertainment. Although he played the notes several times, Deacon forgot the riff after the band took a pizza break. Fortunately, Taylor saved the day by remembering it, according to the documentary.
While Queen favored a more structured approach to songwriting, Bowie emphasized improvisation. “Each of us walked into the vocal booth consecutively, not listening to each other or the track, vocalized the first things that came to mind, including the words,” May recalled of the experience. (via Biography). After the draft, Bowie’s creative vision for the song lyrics took center stage. “It’s an important song because of David and its lyrical content,” May later told Mojo (via New musical express).