Annie Lennox and David Bowie at Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, April 20, 1992; Neal Preston/© Queen Productions Ltd.
The latest episode of Queen‘s weekly YouTube video series Queen The Greatest premiered today, and it features profile a profile of the band’s memorable hit 1981 duet with David Bowie, “Under Pressure.”
The installment tells the story of how the track came together using interview footage with Bowie; Queen members Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor; and producer Reinhold Mack.
The episode begins by explaining how after Queen had purchased Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, the band was working on new music there in 1981 when engineer David Richards made an impromptu phone call to Bowie.
Bowie notes in an archival interview clip, “[Richards] knew that I was in town, and phoned me up and asked me if I’d…like to go down and see what was happening. So I went down and…suddenly you’re writing something together and it was totally spontaneous. It certainly wasn’t planned.”
Taylor remembers that the band and Bowie were drunk and jamming on “all sorts of old songs,” and then David said, “Look, hang on a minute, why don’t we write one of our own?”
A separate interview clips, Taylor, May and Mack recalled how Queen bassist John Deacon came up with the catchy bass riff that really got the track going.
Roger added that it was Bowie idea to put in various clicks and claps, and the track just grew from there.
“Under Pressure” was released in October of 1981 and became Queen’s second #1 hit in the U.K., after “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while peaking at #22 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100.
After Mercury’s death in 1991, Bowie famously teamed up with Eurythmics‘ Annie Lennox and Queen’s surviving members to perform “Under Pressure” at the historic 1992 tribute concert for Freddie at London’s Wembley Stadium.
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