Freddie Mercury, a legend himself, harbored a great admiration for another great artist like himself – Elvis Presley. The two geniuses never met in person but the “Queen” frontman always had huge respect for the late king of rock ‘n’ roll.
Two years after Elvis died, Freddie wrote a cover for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. The inspiration struck while he was in the bathtub and the song was finished in about 10 minutes. Here’s a little fun trivia. Freddie wrote the song on a guitar instead of a piano, which was his usual choice when composing songs.
At the time, the “Queen” was stuck as on the old sound of rock. The new wave of punk and rock artists was flooding the music charts. Freddie knew that he needed to get on the train and produce something unique. Instead of experimenting with new sounds he took a few steps back to the original rock tones and did a tribute to almost forgotten Elvis Presley.
When talking about that period of the early 80s, Brian May said: “It does sound very authentic, everything about it is sort of like original rock and roll sounding”. Everyone in the band knew how fond Freddie was of Elvis, so there was no surprise there at all. However, they never expected the song to make any memorable mark. They were so wrong.
On February 23rd, 1980 “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen reached No. 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it would hold that position for four consecutive weeks. The song was Queen’s first No. 1 single in the United States. When asked about the song, Freddie responded: “It was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords. I couldn’t work through too many chords and because of that restriction, I wrote a good song, I think”.
Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991 from AIDS-related pneumonia. The band ceased to exist at that point although they did hold some tribute concerts. Brian May got especially emotional when talking about Freddie: “You never finish grieving if you lose a family member, and Freddie was a family member, but you get to the point where you’re at peace and you think, My God the guy had a great life. We created wonderful stuff together that is still making people happy, and there’s an acceptance there and a joy that it all happened. How amazing that it all happened”.
A special 40th-anniversary edition was issued this year to commemorate the late Freddie Mercury and the “Queen” band. Expectedly, it reached the top of the Official Albums Chart. If Freddie was still with us, would they still play? “Absolutely”, says Brian May. “The funny thing is I feel more and more that he is kind of with us in a way, maybe I’m getting to be an old romantic, but Freddie is in my day every day”, he added.
Elvis Presley died on August 16th, 1977 overdosing on a mix of alcohol and prescription drugs. He was 42. However, his songs and his legacy continue to live through his songs and his extraordinary showmanship.
If Elvis was the King of rock, then Freddie was the Queen.