Brian May was left traumatised hearing the late Freddie Mercury’s vocals after the Queen frontman’s death.
The iconic rock group’s guitarist has recalled how painful it was listening to Freddie – who died from bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS in November 1991 aged 45 – singing on the recordings he worked on for the ‘We Will Rock You’ hitmakers’ first and only LP released following the music icon’s passing, 1995’s ‘Made In Heaven’.
Speaking to Elis James and John Robins on BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘How Do You Cope’ podcast, he shared:
“It was very weird. It was traumatising in itself.
“I spent hours and days and weeks working on little bits of Freddie’s vocals. Listening to Freddie the whole day and the whole night. I’d have moments thinking, ‘This is great … this sounds great Fre … Oh, you’re not here.'”
The 74-year-old musician had to step away from the project every so often to “recover” from the grief he was hit with.
He continued: “It was quite difficult. You’d have to go away from it sometimes and recover and come back. But I felt this immense pride and joy in squeezing the last drops out of what Freddie left us.”
Despite the emotional ordeal of finishing the record, Brian says it’s actually his favourite of their 15 studio albums.
He said: “I still love that album. I think it’s my favourite Queen album.
“There are things in there that are so deep. There’s pure gold in there.”
Brian also opened up about the grieving process and admitted he and drummer Roger Taylor, 72, were in “denial” about the loss of their beloved bandmate, and distracted themselves with solo projects and even tried to erase Queen from their memories as a coping mechanism.
He recalled: “I think Roger and I both went through a kind of normal grieving process, but accentuated by the fact it has to be public. We sort of went into denial. Like, ‘Yeah well, we did Queen, but we do something else now’.
“Roger and I plunged into our solo work and didn’t want to talk about Queen. That seems almost nonsensical because we spent half of our lives constructing Queen. But we didn’t want to know at that time. It was a grieving thing. We just overcompensated. It went on for a long time.
“I went so far as to adapt John Lennon’s ‘God’ song in my solo stage act to say, ‘I don’t believe in Queen anymore’. That was a vast overreaction. I didn’t need to do that, why would I do that? Because I couldn’t cope with looking at it.”
Each year, Brian – who lost his father the same year as Freddie – has to hide away on the anniversary of the ‘We Are The Champions’ singer’s death because the loss is still too heartbreaking to comprehend.
He said: “Losing Freddie was like losing a brother, but yes it had the glare of public knowledge to go along with it.
“We were kind of dragged into a perpetual wheel of having to look at the loss of Freddie in a public way. That’s why I tend to hide away on the anniversary of his death.
“People do a lot of, sort of celebrating on the day of Freddie’s death, but I don’t want to and I don’t feel I can. I’ll celebrate his birthday, or the day we first got together, but the day of losing him will never be something I can put straight in my head. There was just nothing good about it.”