Queen lead guitarist Brian May recalled the early days of Queen and compared their styles with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath’s by explaining their main difference during his interview with Rosie Bennet’s Fret Not Podcast.
As you might know, Queen is a ground-breaking rock band, formed in 1970. Even though there were many reasons behind their success, their committed fans also get a lot of credit. In his recent interview, May also confirmed that their fans were like a part of the band and how they would enjoy singing with them during the concerts.
In addition, May stated that singing with the band was a very new thing for the rock audience who were only nodding or just standing there during Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath concerts. Therefore, he described ‘We Are the Champions’ as a song written by Freddie Mercury to invite the fans to join them in the building of a community.
May said in his interview that:
“When we started off, rock music was already underway. I mean I was lucky enough to be under the covers listening to Radio Luxemburg and hearing the very beginnings of rock and roll like Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly. By the time we were on a stage, rock music had been kind of defined, and it wasn’t a very participatory thing.
People generally went to rock concerts, and either sat on the floor or stood around, but they didn’t participate very much. They would nod their head like, headbanging was a thing, or else they’d take too many drugs and were just kind of looking at the floor, and probably so were the artists.”
He went on:
“You didn’t go to a Led Zeppelin concert to sing along or Black Sabbath concert not in those days. You just went to listen to it. It was kind of uncool to participate but what happened with us is people got to know the songs eventually, and it takes a while before people know your stuff. However, they got to know and started singing along.
I remember we all thought it was kind of annoying, and why don’t they just listen to us play instead of singing and spoiling it. Then it became so big that it was an amazing sound when they joined in the choruses and stuff. They would clap and stamp.”
He recalled how they came to this realization as follows:
“It was one night in Bingley Hall, in Staffordshire near Birmingham in the Midlands. They sang every word of every song. We went off stage, and they wouldn’t stop singing. […]
Freddie and I looked at each other and went, ‘We should really take note of this. This is something we shouldn’t be fighting against.’ So he went off and wrote ‘We Are the Champions,’ which is an open invitation to people to get together and do it as a community. And I wrote that very night the basis of ‘We Will Rock You.'”
You can listen to the podcast and the song below.