Brian May recalls "merciless" arguments with Freddie Mercury: "We said terrible things"

6 May 2022, 13:47 | Updated: 9 May 2022, 16:33

Brian May confessed that Queen weren't always a happy family. In fact they were quite the opposite.
Brian May confessed that Queen weren't always a happy family. In fact they were quite the opposite. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

From the outside looking in, it'd seem like Queen were more like a family than friends.

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And you'd be right. But as with all families, it comes with a certain level of feuding.

In the years since Freddie Mercury's death, the remaining Queen members Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon have all declared their love for their beloved and prematurely departed frontman.

Of course, they remember Freddie fondly - not only for being one of the greatest ever characters in rock 'n' roll, but also because of who he was.

They even ensured award-winning biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, stuck closely to the way they remember him, painting him in a positive, authentic manner the way they'd want him remembered.

But during the band's two-decade tenure with Freddie and their stratospheric rise to rock stardom, it wasn't always easy.

In fact, the four-piece clashed on a regular basis, with May later saying: "It wasn’t always nice, because families aren’t always nice."

Queen often said "terrible" things during arguments, but "got the best out of each other."
Queen often said "terrible" things during arguments, but "got the best out of each other.". Picture: Getty
Together, Queen had an unparalleled onstage chemistry.
Together, Queen had an unparalleled onstage chemistry. Picture: Getty

Bands often fight and feud after long stints on tour and the excesses of rock 'n' roll take their tour. And Queen were no different as Brian May confessed in an interview with Classic Rock Magazine last year:

"We were merciless, we said terrible things."

“It was a struggle. That’s what breaks bands up. There were lots of arguments about how much input everybody had."

"We were like four painters with a brush each but one canvas."

You'd expect creative tensions between bands that are balancing personal ambitions with what bandmates and producers think is the best route for a big hit, and Queen were no different.

But Brian revealed that's precisely what made Queen tick, and what made them produce their most celebrated works.

"There was conflict, but we got there.”

“We all influenced each other. That was the secret of Queen" the guitarist continued. "“We pushed and pulled each other, mercilessly."

"We had a family relationship. It wasn’t always nice, because families aren’t always nice."

“We sometimes said terrible things, but we got the best out of each other.”

It was often Freddie that took on the diplomatic role during band in-fighting.
It was often Freddie that took on the diplomatic role during band in-fighting. Picture: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Brian offered an intriguing insight into the legendary band's dynamic, revealing that it was in fact Freddie that acted as the band's diplomatic figure and brought them together throughout tense times.

Given his flamboyant, unapologetic nature on stage, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was Freddie that was the catalyst for many of the band's in-fighting.

But it was regularly Brian and Roger that didn't see eye-to-eye.

"We had big, big dreams. We wanted it all, and we felt we had what it takes" Brian said.

"It’s funny because if it had been just me and Roger, we would never have stuck together."

Brian and Roger don't always see eye-to-eye, but that what keeps them ticking.
Brian and Roger don't always see eye-to-eye, but that what keeps them ticking. Picture: Getty

Even after Freddie's death, Brian and May have continued to have a fruitful career in Queen together, but still slip into the same old habits.

Despite being “so well-aligned in some respects” with Roger, there is still “not a single subject we don’t have opposite opinions about” Brian went on to say.

“We needed someone who would be the diplomat. And, strangely enough, Freddie was that guy."

“Everybody thinks that Freddie was that flyaway guy, but he was very pragmatic."

"If he saw a situation that was arising between me and Roger, he would manage to find a way through, a compromise."

He remembered one of Freddie's regular mantras he'd recite to the media about the band's ethics: "One of Freddie’s great catchphrases was, ‘We don’t compromise.’"

“But within the band we did. And that’s why we survived.”

To this day, Queen are still at the top of their game. They survived the arguments, the devastating loss of Freddie, and with the help of Adam Lambert they continue to thrive.