Queen had an unlikely source of inspiration for their follow up to A Night At The Opera, Somebody To Love. In The latest episode of The Greatest, fans are taken through the story of the 1976 track, inspired by Aretha Franklin.
Upon their return to the studio, it was the music legend, Franklin who inspired Freddie to write their next hit single. In the latest episode, guitarist Brian May explains how Freddie Mercury “wanted to be Aretha Franklin”.
“He loved Aretha, and this was his Gospel epic. It kind of followed in the steps of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in the sense that we were building up these multiple vocal parts. But this time we were being a Gospel choir, instead of being an English choir,” explained May.
“And there’s me going on about Aretha Franklin, sort of made them go a bit mad,” Mercury recalled once in an interview. “I just wanted to write something in that kind of thing. I was sort of incentivized by the gospel approach that she had on her albums, the earlier albums.”
Giving an insight into the vibes of sessions while making lead single, A Day At The Races, May explains “there was a very good feeling”.
“Freddie came in very well prepared with a lot of vocal parts and we just worked our way through it,” the guitarist explains. “There was a very good feeling. I always remember thinking ‘yeah, this is going to be something great’.”
Queen’s hit track, Somebody To Love peaked at #2 in the Official UK Charts, and was a Top 10 hit in several other countries. The track only reached #13 on the US Billboard Hot 100, although A Day At The Races gave the band their second straight UK chart-topper, selling over 100,000 copies and earning gold status.
The group celebrate 50 years together and have even announced they are working on new music. However, May feels the milestone is bittersweet without Freddie Mercury to enjoy it with them. Such as his ability to hone Aretha Franklin, Mercury had a range of musical styles and talents which led the band onto international stardom.