Peter Freestone wrote in his book:
The first of the two sessions for Under Pressure was twenty-four hours and the second, a couple of weeks later and 4,000 miles away in New York when Freddie and Bowie finished off the track at the Power Station, was a session which lasted another eighteen hours. Under Pressure came about purely spontaneously. Bowie, who was living in Montreux, heard that Queen were in town and just called round to the studio. Roger and Bowie got on very well anyway, although the lyric and title idea came from Freddie's and David's collaboration. The impromptu jam session soon assumed the 24-hour marathon shape I've described. I was overjoyed in New York when Freddie took up my suggestion of the two-octave vocal slide which I had noticed being so successfully used on another current chart disco track.
Roger Taylor, when doing a Q&A for QOL in 2002, said:
Absolutely nothing was written and in fact all that we were doing was jamming and David came in one night, and we were just playing other people’s songs for fun and David said ‘This is stupid – why don’t we just write one?’ It was originally called People on Streets, and that was the basis of it, and we took the multi track tapes to New York and I spent all day there with David and mixed it that night. I remember, we were fiddling about and we got the bass line, and then we went for a pizza! And when we got back, we couldn’t remember it, and somebody thought of it…John did, yes.
Roger Taylor allegedly said around the time of GVH II:
We wrote it together and it was one of those sort of magical, very long nights and I remember it came, and we finished it in New York... started it in Switzerland, finished it in New York and I remember thinking at the time, I really liked the song a lot.
Roger Taylor also allegedly said in 2004 [quote was cited on Bowie's official website back then]:
One night he turned up and we all started just piddling about, playing covers, and then I think we decided we'd write our own song. I think it was his idea actually. I didn't think it was a big enough hit. Actually I think it deserved to be a bigger one but I think that, you know, it was all a bit difficult. We had never actually collaborated actively with anybody before. So certain sort of egos were slightly bruised along the way. We never actually finished the record to my satisfaction. We finished it in New York, and it wasn't, technically, as good as it could have been. It could have been a lot better I think.
Brian May wrote on his website and a Daily Mail article the day after Bowie died:
When it came to mixing the track, I, (uncharacteristically, since I was usually the last one left in the studio of a night), opted out altogether, so that there were fewer cooks to spoil the broth. Roger hung right in there – and Roger, who had been a fan of Bowie from way back, was very instrumental in making sure the track got finished. In fact it didn't get mixed until a few weeks later in New York. That's a whole different story, but I wasn't there, so all I know is that Freddie and David had different views of how the mix should be done, and the engineer didn't completely know how the studio worked! So it ended up as a compromise ... a quick rough monitor mix. But that was what became the finished album track, and a single too, which made a mark all around the world.
Chris Taylor wrote on his Facebook shortly after David died:
Episode III of the Under Pressure trilogy: The Final Mix.
In a galaxy far far away.....
Well not actually that far but New York was the chosen place to mix it. I've no idea why they chose there as we had never recorded any thing there. Having said that Roger & I did use the Power Station to cut Fun in Space. The guys all flew out then the following day I decided to join them as well and jumped on a plane to NYC. While I was in the baggage hall at JFK I made a phone call. 10 minutes after checking in to my hotel a vision walked through the door. Hello Miss Atlanta
After we, erm, 'chatted' for a while we went out to get some food and a couple of drinks then headed off to the Power Station. On arrival everyone was there, except the two singers that is. It turned out they were playing mind games with each other. Freddie was phoning the studio "Is he there yet?" Then Bowie would phone "Is he there yet?" It seemed like the biggest star wanted to be the last to turn up. Quite childish I thought. Anyway, it was getting late(ish) about midnight but my body was still on London time so I had been up for nearly 24 hrs and was feeling tired so I had to make a decision. Did I want to stay and listen to Pressure a million times or go back to the hotel with my friend. No contest. Goodnight guys.
The next day I decided I didn't really want to be at the mix and called Roger and said "Se ya in New Orleans in a few days." I got a hire car and headed off to Pennsylvania to see Trip Khalaf. On the drive down there I thought I was gonna cash the car a couple of times. The first while I was driving down the freeway and saw a sign pointing to a town called Blue Balls. Yea that'll be me after last night. Then the next was for a town called Intercourse. I thought about turning off and going there but maybe I was ok for a while
A few days later the entire entourage met up in New Orleans to start rehearsals for a North American tour.
Pressure on again
I seem to remember Freddie's driver also confirmed it'd been finished in New York - and he was positive because he remembered the Bowie sessions but he wasn't there for the Swiss part, having never actually been to Montreux.
The fact the HS liner notes don't mention it means nothing ... loads of the credits are incomplete. Other details liner notes fail to mention include:
- The organ on Liar, Now I'm Herre and Marriage of D&M
- The stylophone on Seven Seas
- Guest singers on Seven Seas
- The double-bass on Two Legs
- Trident being used for ANatO [subsequent releases correct it]
- Brian's BV's on Two Legs, Best Friend, Sweet Lady and Prophet's Song
- Roger's BV's on Two Legs, Best Friend, '39, Sweet Lady and Prophet's Song
- Brian's piano on All Dead, All Dead
- John's acoustic on Spread Your Wings
- Mack's synth on Rock It
- Flash OST sessions in Munich
- The Staying Power sessions in New York
- The One Vision sessions at Maison Rouge in London
- David Richards' keys here and there
Not to mention there are some albums without performing credits (Jazz, The Game, Hot Space, The Works and The Miracle).
John hated Hot Space. Frederick's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180