Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985
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The band has always been open about the challenges of four immensely talented and different artists working together. Brian once described it like four painters competing over the same canvas. And while Roger insists none of them would ever have left permanently, always returning to the “mothership”, Brian has opened up about a beautiful side of Freddie never seen in public. For all his drama and theatrics, it was Freddie who held the band together in private.
While Freddie and John Deacon had their own strong opinions and fought for their compositions and music tastes, Brian and Roger admit they were the two who “bickered” about everything.
Roger said: “That’s absolutely true… (we fought over) key changes, arrangements, ‘Why are you doing that? I can’t hear the vocals.’ Freddie was the great peacemaker.”
Brian explained they disagreed about: “Anything and nothing. A note, a tempo, a cup of coffee, a window… Even though we’re so well aligned in some respects, we’re diametrically opposite in everything else. There’s not a single subject we don’t have opposite opinions about.”
In the extraordinary new interview with Classic Rock, Brian said: “It’s funny, because if it had been just me and Roger we would never have stuck together…
“We needed someone who would be the diplomat. And, strangely enough, Freddie was that guy.
“Everybody thinks that Freddie was that flyaway guy, but he was very pragmatic. If he saw a situation that was arising between me and Roger, he would manage to find a way through, a compromise.
“One of Freddie’s great catchphrases was: ‘We don’t compromise.’ But within the band we did. And that’s why we survived.”
The popular impression over the years was that Freddie and John formed a close bond while Brian and Roger formed another. But when they are asked who they were closest to in the band, both give the same answer.
Brian’s, of course, is much longer…
Roger said: “It was probably Freddie. But we were all fairly close. You had to be.
Brian added: “Freddie, I think. The image of Freddie Mercury was that he was unapproachable… but he was a very caring person, actually.
“He would give the impression that he was very flippant about everything, but he would always surprise you. If you had an argument, he’d come back a few days later and say: “I’ve been thinking…” He would be the diplomat.”
And then Brian summed up his much-missed friend beautifully in five words: “Freddie was always a cup-half-full person. A cup-completely-full person, really.”
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Brian and Roger, of course, are marking the 50th anniversary of the band, but their friendship has lasted even longer than that.
They met as students, and gigged and played together in the band Smile from 1968 before Queen officially came together in 1970 with various bass players until John joined in February 1971.
Roger said of their bond: “We’ve had a long, up-and-down relationship. But we’re brothers from another mother,” before Brian waxed a little more lyrically on their extraordinary friendship.
Brian said: “It’s very much like being brothers. There was always a fondness there, but there was a lot of competitive feelings.
“These days we realise the good stuff, because we’ve seen it all now and we value each other. We know that we’re more powerful together than apart. If we truly get our energies aligned, magic happens.”
That magic is still happening, as the band’s new incarnation with Adam Lambert patiently waits for the global pandemic to ease, so they can restart the current Queen + Adam Lambert Rhapsody World Tour.
Meanwhile, fans can enjoy 50 weeks of new videos posted on the official Queen Youtube page, celebrating 50 of the band’s most iconic moments.
READ THE FULL BRIAN MAY AND ROGER TAYLOR INTERVIEW IN CLASSIC ROCK
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