The Story of... 'These Are the Days of Our Lives' by Queen, Freddie Mercury's heartbreaking farewell

23 November 2021, 15:24 | Updated: 23 November 2021, 16:52

Freddie Mercury's final video for Queen
Freddie Mercury's final video for Queen. Picture: Queen/YouTube/Parlophone

By Tom Eames

In 1991, Freddie Mercury passed away aged just 45 due to complications from AIDS. 30 years on, and his final song for Queen remains a heartbreaking moment of pop history.

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Queen recorded the ballad 'These Are the Days of Our Lives' for what would be their final album together as a band, Innuendo.

Its poignant lyrics and heartbreaking music video would provide a fitting send-off to a truly iconic singer, and still gives us goosebumps 30 years later.

  1. Who wrote 'These Are the Days of Our Lives'?

    Roger Taylor wrote the song
    Roger Taylor wrote the song. Picture: Getty

    Although credited to the whole of Queen, it was largely written by drummer Roger Taylor.

    It was included as the eighth track on the band's 1991 album Innuendo.

  2. What inspired the song?

    Adam Lambert: 'I learned a lot from Freddie Mercury'

    Roger Taylor wrote the nostalgic song about reminiscing on his past.

    He wrote the song while Freddie Mercury's health was deteriorating due to his illness. Roger had known Freddie since the late 1960s, when they worked together at Kensington Market in London before they founded Queen with Brian May in 1970.

    Read more: Remembering Freddie Mercury's incredible final performance with Queen - video

    The opening chorus looks back ("Those were the days of our lives"), while the second chorus looks at the present ("Cos these are the days of our lives".)

    He later said: "I was sitting at home in a rather reflective mood and I did know that Freddie was ill, and I think it came out of that slightly melancholic mood.

    "I guess I was trying to put an optimistic slant on it in a way—those were the days then. And these are the days of our lives—Today is more important than yesterday."

  3. When was the video filmed?

    Queen - These Are The Days Of Our Lives (Official Video)

    The song's video was the last Queen video to feature Freddie Mercury in person, before his death on November 24, 1991.

    Directors Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher of DoRo Productions filmed the music video at London studios in London on May 30, 1991.

    Freddie, Roger and John Deacon were present at the shoot, while Brian May filmed his segment later in the year, being added in digitally. Brian was out of the country on a promotional tour at the time.

    Read more: Watch the heartbreaking final video footage of Freddie Mercury

    After rumours persisted about Freddie's health, the video was filmed and released in black-and-white to hide the full extent of his illness.

    In the video, Freddie is seen wearing a waistcoat featuring pictures of cats, that was made for him by Queen costume designer Diana Moseley.

    In the video's most emotional part, Freddie gives fans and loved ones a final farewell, by looking straight at the camera as the song ends. Freddie whispers "I still love you", which are his last words on camera.

    Freddie Mercury in London 1990
    Freddie Mercury in London 1990. Picture: Getty

    Video director Dolezal had been told to keep things quick due to Mercury's ailing health, but before shooting finished, Freddie requested one more take for the last lyrics of the song ("Those days are gone now but one thing's still true / When I look and I find I still love you").

    Dolezal said: "In these last few seconds of that song, he gives us a résumé of his whole life: 'I was a big superstar, but don't take it too seriously.' And then, 'I still love you,' which is to the fans. Then he walks out of life. Even in his last moments, he planned his exit artistically. That's how he wanted it to be."

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    The song was released in the US on Freddie Mercury's 45th birthday, September 5, 1991.

    It came out as a double A-side single in Ireland and the UK on December 9, in the wake of Freddie's death, alongside Queen classic 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

    Read more: Freddie Mercury's tragic final words and last days revealed in brand new documentary

    The double A-side debuted at number one in the UK, remaining there for five weeks including that year's Christmas number one.

    The song was also awarded a Brit Award for British Single of the Year in 1992.

  5. Who has covered it?

    George Michael With Lisa Stansfield - These Are The Days Of Our Lives (Live Vocal Version)

    George Michael and Lisa Stansfield joined the surviving members of Queen to perform a version of the song at Freddie Mercury's Tribute Concert in 1992.

    Other covers include Petula Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Read more: The Freddie Mercury tribute concert: A guide to the greatest gig of the ‘90s