The Man Who Would Be Queen

Source: Melody Maker May 2, 1981

Submitted by: Richard Orchard

Interview with Freddie


When Queen formed ten years ago, there seemed to be a grand strategy to become the biggest rock band, statistically, and to be the most extravagant in every way. Was there really a master plan which has resulted in your current status - did you approach it as businessmen rather than musicians?


No, It wasn't quite as clinical as that, but it was certainly determined. We said okay, we're going to take the plunge into rock and we're really going to do a job at it, no half measures. We all had potentially good careers and we weren't prepared to settle for second best if we were going to abandon all the qualifications we had got in other fields. We wanted the best; it wasn't a question of wanting world domination, although I know it probably came across as capitalism.


But lots of bands set out wanting to get to the top and don't make it - what gave you the edge?


You have to have a kind of arrogance and lots of confidence and absolute determination, as well as all the other obvious skills like music. Arrogance is a very good thing to have when you're starting, and that means saying to yourselves that you're going to be the number one group, not the number two. Hope for the best, go for the top. We just had it inside us and - well, we all had a very big ego, as well.


Are you the leader of the band?




The lead singer usually is....


Ah, yes, we used to be, that's a bygone age. Modern-day people in my position called themselves the focal point, dear. Unless your name is Rod Stewart and you have a backing band - no way is this Freddie Mercury and his backing band. When you analyse it, the four of us make the whole thing work. It's 25 per cent, and I'm the one upfront, that's all.


Your friends say you're extremely shy, and you loathe talking about yourself in interviews like this, but on stage you preen like a peacock. Are you two people?


I don't know what it is, but it's true. I wish I could tell you. I just like having fun. It's a very good release, rock music, but you know you say that I am a different person on stage and that same thing could be said of anyone going out to do his job. It's my work, and I'm very serious about it, getting it right - when we began, we approached it the way we did because we were not prepared to be out-of-work musicians, ever. We said either take it on as a serious commodity or don't do it at all.


Did you ever have doubts that the strategy would work?


At one point, two or three years after we began, we nearly disbanded. We felt it wasn't working, there were too many sharks in the business and it was all getting too much for us. But something inside us kept us going and we learned from our experiences, good and bad. Sometimes, things like what happened to us in the business field give you an even greater incentive to stay alive and fight through. We didn't make any money until after the fourth album, "A Night At The Opera." Most of our income was consumed by litigation and things like that. We had to use a lot of money, so-called money that we made, to get out of contracts. But it was the best thing we could do. After that, it was like a new lease of life.


Is there a togetherness in the band - do you mix socially?