Freddie and Bowie first met back in 1969, before either was famous. But that’s a different (and rather fabulous) story. Fast forward 12 years and they were two of the biggest icons in the world. Both were and still are revered for their creative excellence and originality. Both were also understandably very strong-willed and very clear in their own vision. So, naturally, when they clashed…
After major successes in the 1970s, both Queen and Bowie had homes and studios near Lake Geneva.
That is how the iconic recording of Under Pressure came about, the result of some chaotic recording sessions and rather a lot of drinking and carousing in between.
The Queen band members have all spoken about their own frequent clashes and disputes over the years – almost always about creative matters.
So, things got even more interesting when Bowie was thrown into the mix.
Brian May told Mojo magazine about the crazy couple of days in 1981 when music history was made at the band’s home studio in Lausanne.
He said: “Freddie and David locked horns, without a doubt. But that’s when the sparks fly and that’s why it turned out so great.”
Freddie’s long-term PA Peter Freestone told Express Online Freddie actually used to pick fights with people on purpose: “Freddie would provoke fights because that gave him the impetus to work, it got his juices flowing.”
But that wasn’t what happened this time.
They had all been jamming and testing song ideas, but decided they need a break and food (and drink). Three hours later they returned home and tried to recreate an iconic moment Deacon had been playing earlier.
May recalled the scene to the Daily Mirror: “What was that riff, you had, Deacy?’ says David B. ‘It was like this,’ says John Deacon. But Bowie protested: ‘No it wasn’t, 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.”
It’s extraordinary to think that’s how the legendary opening guitar riff from Under Pressure happened. Or to think it could have been different if Bowie had not remembered it.
Today is the anniversary of his death in 2016.
Perhaps he is somewhere with Freddie, riffing and remembering while their fans continue to keep their legends alive.