The True Story About A Brilliant Musical Mashup! David Bowie Sings With Freddie Mercury!
In looking back at David Bowie’s incredible career, there is one very unique song he wrote – or co-wrote that is! It’s one of music’s best-loved songs: Queen teaming up with David Bowie for the classic “Under Pressure!”
It’s a song that was fueled by lots of wine and other substances – well, according to folklore…so just how did David Bowie end up recording with Queen?
It All Began In Switzerland….
Doesn’t everything? Well, in this case, Queen had been working on the song – at the time called “Feel Like”, at a recording studio in Montreux, Switzerland. David Bowie was a friend and came by to sing backing vocals on another Queen song, “Cool Cat”…
They started jamming together on “Feel Like”, and they ended up with “Under Pressure!” Queen Guitarist Brian May told Mojo magazine in October 2008 that:
“It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us. David took over the song lyrically. Looking back, it’s a great song but it should have been mixed differently. Freddie and David had a fierce battle over that. It’s a significant song because of David and its lyrical content.”
Here is a terrific, fan-created acapella mashup of the song, focusing on performances by each singer:
Author Mark Blake wrote a terrific biography called “Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Freddie Mercury and Queen.” His book has a few more choice bits about the recording…
Blake writes that Bowie and Mercury “swap[ped] verses blind, which helped give the song its cut-and-paste feel.”
And stories abound that the band and Bowie enjoyed copious amounts of wine – and other substances while recording the song.
Brian May gives an in-depth look at every facet of the recording of the song, which he admits begins with a lot of wine at a local restaurant…but he also gives a lot of terrific insight about the creative process at work – which began when Guitarist John Deacon played 6 chords for Bowie:
“Ding-Ding-Ding Diddle Ing-Ding!”
Here is how May described what happened next:
“Suddenly hunger took over and we repaired to a local restaurant for food and a fair amount of drink. (Local Vaux wine as drunk in Montreux is a well-kept secret).
A couple or three hours later, we’re back in the studio. “What was that riff, you had, Deacy?” says David B. “I was like this”, says John Deacon.
“No it wasn’t, says Bowie – it was like this”.
This was a funny moment because I can just see DB going over and putting his hand on John’s fretting hand and stopping him.
It was also a tense moment because it could have gone either way.”
So Bowie’s interest in those 6 chords led to the recording of a masterpiece – and you can read how it all came together by clicking on May’s interview with The Mirror here:
“Under Pressure” is considered one of Bowie’s greatest songs – and of course, Queen released it on their next album as well…
Here is the official Queen video:
David Bowie’s death caused an overwhelming outpouring from fans – and every single friend and fellow Artist praised his honesty, warmth and generosity…
Here is a look at some of the music he created that I loved most:
He also starred in a number of great movies, but perhaps my favorite is the erotic thriller “The Hunger”…
Queen also created an amazing amount of great music, and Freddie Mercury was a mad genius…here is a look at their masterpiece, “A Night At The Opera”:
Let me know what your favorite Bowie music is!
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This is a great post, John. I love Queen and David Bowie.
So do I Robbie! Thanks for commenting – this song is a classic and it kills me that some still think it’s a Vanilla Ice song “Ice Ice Baby!”
It’s hard to beat this, it’s one of a few tracks I turn up the volume when playing in the car.
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Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:
Listening to some classic music today – I wish I had been at THIS recording session!