Brian May wrote more of Queen's hits than you thought
25 January 2021, 17:18
Freddie Mercury was the mastermind behind Bohemian Rhapsody and countless other Queen hits - but which of their classic songs did guitarist Brian May pen?
Hammer To Fall
“Give it to me one more time!” Brian May proves he can rock as hard as any heavy metal guitar hero with this anthem from the career-boosting 1984 album The Works.
Tie Your Mother Down
A parodic song about a lad getting worked up about a young girl, this track from 1976’s A Day At The Races hasn’t dated well, but that’s an amazing riff at the start. Despite the questionable lyrics, Queen + Adan Lambert still perform this track live.
“Ah-aaahh!” One of the most famous movie theme tunes ever? The 1980 adaptation of the classic newspaper comic strip was super-camp, but Queen took their job as soundtrackers seriously. May wrote the sparse theme tune, which builds tension and has a glorious middle eight, sung by Mercury: “Just a man, with a man’s courage…” Take that, Superman.
Keep Yourself Alive
Brian May had the distinction of penning the very first Queen single, released in July 1973. It didn’t chart, but the song led off Queen’s first, self-titled debut album.
We Will Rock You
Together with Freddie Mercury’s We Are The Champions, this is the ultimate audience participation double-header - the stomping verses are merely a prelude for another expertly-delivered Brian May solo.
Supreme power ballad with a heart-breaking sentiment, given a fantastically ethereal guitar solo by May. Taken from the album The Game.
Among Bohemian Rhapsody and You’re My Best Friend, the 1975 album A Night At The Opera includes this virtuoso performance in which Brian May recreates the sound of an entire jazz band!
Now I’m Here
One of Freddie Mercury’s favourite songs to perform on stage, this Sheer Heart Attack song was released as a single in early 1975 and was based on the band’s experiences touring with Mott The Hoople in the US.
Fat Bottomed Girls
Along with Tie Your Mother Down, this is one of the more “1970s” style lyrics in the Brian May back catalogue, but the song received a new lease of life when it was featured in an episode of Glee.
I Want It All
Queen made a huge comeback in 1989 and their album The Miracel, with this storming rock tune, written by Brian May following his divorce with his first wife Christine.
Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)
One of the few Queen ballads to be released as a single, this charming song is delivered impeccably by a newly-moustachioed Freddie Mercury.
The Show Must Go On
“Inside my heart is breaking / My make-up may be flaking / But my smile still stays on.” The final Queen single to be released during Freddie Mercury’s lifetime, this is a heart-breaking song about the singer’s determination to keep working despite being seriously ill. On 24 November 1991, Mercury died from pneumonia, caused by AIDS. He was 45.
Who Wants To Live Forever
Epic orchestral ballad taken from the soundtrack to the Highlander movie - the song refers to the immortal hero of the film, while his mortal wife ages and dies. Since the tragic early death of Freddie Mercury, the lyrics have taken on a new poignancy.
Another song written by May following his divorce, this attack on tabloid newspapers came about following his experiences with the paparazzi over his relationship with soap star Anita Dobson.