Freddie was many things: a sublimely talented singer, songwriter and musician, and a generous and devoted friend. However, no one could ever accuse him of being meek and mild. His personal assistant and close friend, Peter Freestone, told Express Online that the star actually used to make people angry on purpose: “Freddie would start fights because it gave him the impetus to work, it made him flow.” There are fabulous stories of him training with Bowie, who died on this day in 2016. The superstars clashed during their collaboration on Under Pressure, but the real clash came on a completely different recording. The truth emerged during a fascinating interview with Freddie from 1983.
Queen’s original sessions with Bowie took place in Switzerland, where Brian May fondly remembers the two singers constantly butting heads.
Freddie recalled: “We were friends for a long time. We were in Montreux in Switzerland, we have a studio there, and he lives there and he kept coming to the studio and listening to our tracks and we were playing some of his old songs.
“One night we were having dinner and after that we went back to the studio… and it just happened and he said, ‘Why don’t we start goofing around and see what happens?’ We started playing the piano and the rest of the band was there and Under Pressure started building.”
May also revealed that there are still unreleased tracks from those recording sessions that never saw the light of day because Bowie blocked their release.
However, it was during another recording session that Bowie really upset Freddie.
In a 1983 interview (which you can see above), Freddie was asked about rumors of clashes with Bowie during Under Pressure and let details about another fight spill out.
He said, “No. That was something else. He did backing vocals on one of my songs that was on the album, which wasn’t Under Pressure, that was something else.
“When it came to getting released, he didn’t like what he did. I was like, ‘Shit, he tells me right when the thing is about to come out!'”
Freddie was asked how he dealt with the problem. He laughed and said, “That’s just artistic license. ‘Okay,’ I said, ‘it’s easy enough, I just erase his voice,’ and it came out… It was just background vocals.”
Asked if he thought Bowie had gone too far and if it ruined their friendship, he added: “Whatever. I think it was unnecessary (what he did). We’re talking, we’re just in different parts of the world.” I’m not one of those queen bitches, no, no, no… He’s fine, he’s fine.”
Just a few years later, Bowie would perform Under Pressure with Lisa Stansfield at the Freddie Mercury Memorial Concert For Life in 1992.
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