Brian May on how Queen being ‘irritated’ at each other led to spontaneous album | Music | Entertainment

Back in 1983, Queen were in need of a break. Brian May found himself at a loose end, which ended up bringing together fellow rockers from other bands to create a mini album.

Recorded on a whim, Star Fleet Sessions – which includes Eddie Van Halen – is being re-released for its 40th anniversary. And the Queen legend has shared the amazing story of how it all came together in a new interview which you can watch below.

Sir Brian said candidly: “1983, it was a time when Queen, this band which we had put together as boys, had matured and become something big around the whole world, incredibly, with hit singles everywhere. 

“The members of Queen had become slightly, I think, irritated with each other or just too much, you know, we’d been touring, recording, touring, recording, touring, the whole time without a break. In 1983, we decided we needed a break.

“And what I remember most vividly is waking up in L.A. one of my favourite places and thinking ‘I could do anything today, the Sun is shining, I’ve got friends here, why don’t I make some phone calls.’”

READ MORE: Brian May ‘highly emotional’ announcing special edition of album with Van Halen

Sir Brian continued: “And that’s what happened. I got on the phone to Ed Van Halen. ‘Do you fancy coming in the studio? Yeah. I mean, yeah’. Phil Chen, bass player extraordinaire.  Fred Mandel, great keyboard player who was already involved with Queen. He’d done a lot of stuff on Radio Ga Ga, magnificent keyboard player actually. And Alan Gratzer, who’s the drummer of REO Speedwagon, lives about 30 yards away, well 100 yards away on my street in L.A. 

“And we’d talked before, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to do something together?’ You never know. Well, this was the moment. So I had some ideas in my head. The biggest idea was I wanted to bring this TV series theme into kind of rock domain. As I saw it. I wanted to experiment with it and I could hear stuff that I wanted to do with it.  I had an arrangement in my head and I wanted to give a platform for Edward to play. I wanted to hear what he would do, given a spot. You know, like ‘go now’ – and I wanted to explore just making the song into some kind of rock anthem rather than the position that it had occupied, which was the theme tune of a very good Japanese cartoon science fiction series, Starfleet.

“So I also had this song called Let Me Out. So I circulated a couple of demos to the chaps, just so that they knew roughly what I had in mind. But I said, ‘Look, I want to be loose. I want to go in there, prepared, but prepared for anything. So if we get ideas, we can go off at tangents, etc.’”

Sir Brian added: “It was incredible to go in the studio with these people, look into their eyes and think we could do anything, what shall we do, and we start playing. And it was just charged with electricity, charged with excitement and anticipation. And of course, this is five people who have never played together, ever before.

“Not like Queen going in, we know each other inside out. We toss things around, the way we always do. No, this was new, completely different. And I remember Alan Gratzer saying ‘it feels a bit like cheating on your wife, you know’, and…not that he would have known.  I have to tell you, bless him. 

“But it was a great feeling just to go in there and have this completely new interaction with people, all of whom I really respected, I must say, they’re all great musicians in their own right. So that was it. We had a couple of little rehearsals around my house, not really rehearsals, just plugging each other into a rockman and playing with each other, but getting the idea.  And then we bowled in on the day and plugged in and off we went.”

Brian May + Friends: Star Fleet Sessions 2-CD, Vinyl Single & LP Deluxe Box Set Gold Series Release is out on July 14, 2023 and can be pre-ordered here.

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