Queen Members Reveal They and David Bowie Were Drunk When They Wrote ‘Under Pressure’

by Joe Rutland

It appears alcohol helped play a large role in rock group Queen and David Bowie’s writing and recording the hit song “Under Pressure.”

All the band members back in 1981, which included the late Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Bacon, shared the bubbly with Bowie. On Monday, in an article for the United Kingdom paper Daily Mail, Queen and Bowie talked about the session through new and archived footage for a YouTube series, “Queen the Greatest.”

Queen and Bowie in the latest episode of Queen the Greatest, a YouTube series celebrating big moments in the band’s history. Both were in Montreaux, Switzerland, at the same time. Bowie picks up the story.

‘They were recording there and, David [Richards, record producer] knew that I was in town,” the singer known as Ziggy Stardust, too, said. “And phoned me up and asked me if I’d come down, if I’d like to go down and see what was happening.”

Queen Called Bowie To Take Part In Recording Session

Bowie said he went down and “suddenly you’re writing something together and it was totally spontaneous, it certainly wasn’t planned. It was peculiar!” 

Taylor, who is the guitarist for Queen, said, “Well, I think the process was we were all drunk, and in the studio, and we were just for fun playing all sorts of old songs.”

Taylor added that he remembered a couple of songs from Cream, but it was Bowie who interjected in the process.

“I think David said, ‘Look, hang on a minute, why don’t we write one of our own?'” Taylor said.

Band Bassist Recalled Deacon Came Up With Song’s Famed Riff

May, the band’s bassist, said Deacon came up with the song’s riff with Taylor adding that he forgot what he came up with after going for food. 

Taylor would remember what May did. May said, “And by that time, David was very impassioned with it and he had a vision in his head I think.”

“Under Pressure” soared to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard singles chart. UK music charts also showed the Queen-Bowie collaboration with a No. 1 hit record.

Bowie died in 2016 at 69 years old. Mercury died in 1991 at 45 years old.

Taylor also shared some thoughts a while back about the band’s influence from Elvis Presley.

The famed Queen drummer told The Express, “I think after Elvis went in the Army, he didn’t influence [Queen] at all. In fact, he became a sort of side paragraph. He didn’t really have a lot of relevance, I thought. He was a rebel, but when he joined the Army, it all sort of disappeared into sh***y films and paying off his manager’s debts in Las Vegas.”