Brian May Recalls How Queen Fans Helped Write ‘We Will Rock You’
Did you know that Queen fans helped in the making of the band's classic rock anthem "We Will Rock You" with their enthusiastic behavior at concerts?
During one early gig, a Queen crowd was so vocal that they sang a song back to the band after the performance. The incident would inspire both "We Will Rock You" and its triumphant counterpart from the same era, "We Are the Champions."
Queen guitarist Brian May explained how the tunes emerged from the audience response in a 1977 BBC Radio 1 interview, the same year the songs debuted as a double A-side single from that year's News of the World.
"We did an encore and they went off," he said. "Instead of just keeping clapping, they sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone' to us, and we were just completely knocked out and taken aback. It was quite an emotional experience really, and I think these chant things are in some way connected with that." (via BuzzFeed)
May spoke those words on-air across the U.K. on Christmas Day 1977. And he revisited the story nearly 35 years later with some new insight into the occurrence.
May told Absolute Radio in 2011, "It was an acknowledgment that our audience had become part of the show, and we could no longer regard it as a one-way experience. We weren't just playing to an audience. They were interacting and changing what we were. So this was a way of embracing it."
He continued, "I know when the idea happened –– it was Bingley Hall in the Midlands. And one particular night, the audience sang everything quite deafeningly. You could hardly hear yourself play. Which was wonderful."
May added, "This is probably fairly normal these days. But you have to understand. In those days, it didn't happen to rock groups. Rock groups mostly played, and people sat there, and they listened. Or they stood and listened. Or they banged their heads. They did not sing along to Led Zeppelin, not normally."
In 2011, "We Will Rock You" was determined by a team of researchers to be the catchiest song of all time, according to Guitar World. It's also a frequent rally song at stadiums worldwide. A re-enactment of the recording of the song was featured in the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
May's 1977 BBC interview is available on the 6-CD deluxe edition of Queen's On Air compilation album of radio performances, released in 2016.
Below, watch a bit of May's Absolute Radio interview and see the music videos for "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" underneath.