Working on Freddie Mercury’s vocals after his death was ‘traumatising’, says Brian May

music news 18/05/2022

'Made in Heaven' was Queen’s last album with the iconic Freddie Mercury on lead vocals, but it wasn't easy for his bandmates to get through. 

The album was released in 1995, four years after Mercury’s death, but uses recordings Mercury had planned for use in solo albums for himself and fellow band members Brian May and Roger Taylor.

freddie mercury and brian may on stage

Speaking on the 'How Do You Cope?' podcast about the process of working on Mercury’s vocals during the production of the album, May said that "it was traumatising in itself". 

I spent hours and days and weeks working on little bits of Freddie's vocals. I’d have moments thinking, ‘This is great … this sounds great Fre.. oh you’re not here.

the album cover for Made in Heaven by Queen

The two met in 1969 and Mercury (who at the time was called Freddie Bulsara) joined May’s band a year later.

After more than twenty years of friendship, and touring the world playing music together, May said he really struggled to grieve the loss of his dear friend.

“People do a lot of celebrating on the day of Freddie’s death, but I don’t want to and I don’t feel I can”, the guitarist explained,

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.

May said that both he and Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor “plunged into [their] solo work” when Mercury died.

He said the grieving process was “accentuated by the fact it has to be public. We sort of went into denial … we didn’t want to talk about Queen.

"That seems almost nonsensical because we spent half our lives constructing Queen. But we didn’t know that at the time. It was a grieving thing.”

the band Queen pictured in  black and white

Brian May released his first solo album 'Back to the Light' in 1992, and it went gold.

May’s father passed the same year that Mercury did, but he said that it was relatively easier to grieve his father’s death as it was not in the public light.

“It was obviously massively important for me to lose my dad, and very difficult to come to terms with, but it was a private thing.

Losing Freddie was like losing a brother, but yes it had the glare of public knowledge to go along with it.