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Queen - Innuendo

Written by :Queen (Mercury and Taylor)

Album : Innuendo (1991)



"Innuendo" is a song by English rock band Queen. It is the opening track on the album of the same name. Though credited to the whole band, the song was mainly written by Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor. At six and a half minutes, it is one of Queen's longest songs. The song went to #1 in the UK. Featured is a flamenco guitar solo performed by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, an operatic interlude that harks back to the Queen of old and sections of heavy metal.

The song and parts of "Kashmir" and "Thank You" (another Led Zeppelin song) were performed by Robert Plant with the three surviving members of Queen (May, Taylor and Deacon) at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 at Wembley Stadium. However, the song was left off the Freddie Mercury Tribute DVD release at Plant's request, because he could not remember the lyrics and consequently didn't sing the song correctly.

The 12" Explosive Version of this song features a noise similar to an atomic bomb after Mercury sings "until the end of time".


"Innuendo" was put together as a jigsaw puzzle. The recurring theme with the bolero-esque beat started off as a jam session between May, Deacon and Taylor, to which Mercury then added the melody and some of the lyrics (which were then completed by Roger Taylor).

The middle-bit was Mercury's, according to what May said to Guitar Magazine in October 1994. It features a flamenco guitar solo, then a classical-influenced bridge, and then the solo again but performed with electric guitars. This section is especially complex, featuring a pattern of three bars in 5/4 time, infrequently found in popular music, followed by four bars in the more often used 3/4 time.

"You can be anything you want to be" section features a very sophisticated orchestration, done by Mercury and producer David Richards using the popular Korg M1 keyboard/synth/workstation. Mercury had arranged and co-arranged orchestras in his solo career, and closed the previous Queen album with "Was It All Worth It", which included a Gershwin-esque interlude also coming from an M1 synth. The bridge section in "Innuendo" is in 3/4, showing once again Mercury's affection for trinary metres: "Bicycle Race" is another one with main sections in 4/4 and middle-eight in 3/4, and some of his best-known pieces (namely "We Are the Champions" and "Somebody to Love") were in 6/8, as would be his last ever composition, "A Winter's Tale".

Steve Howe's involvement

Howe and Mercury had been friends for several years, since they ran into each other quite often at the Townhouse Studios in London. Yes had been recording at Mountain Studios in 1978 shortly before Queen bought them, and Asia's debut album was produced by Queen's engineer, Mike Stone.

Paul Sutin had released his debut album in 1988 and began recording the second. Steve Howe had played on the first as guitarist and bassist, and Sutin asked him to produce the follow-up, which Howe agreed. This time Howe didn't play bass, only guitar and keyboard, but all of the drum parts in 'Voyager' were recorded by his son. Howe travelled to Geneva to lay his parts down in early 1989. On a break he drove to Montreux and stopped to have lunch. There he ran into Martin Gloves (who had worked for Yes before and then was Queen's equipment supervisor), who told him that Queen were in the studio at the moment.

As soon as Steve Howe went into the studios Freddie Mercury recognised him and asked him to play some guitar (according to producer David Richards, who had worked with Yes in the past as well). Another version is that Brian May was the one who asked him to play the flamenco bit. May admitted in a 1991 interview that he couldn't play the bits Howe recorded.

Promotional video

A very elaborate music video was created to accompany the single, featuring stop-motion plasticine figures reminiscent of the album artwork in a detailed miniature cinema set. The band members only appear as illustrations and images, mainly taken from earlier Queen music videos (such as "The Miracle", "Scandal", "Breakthru", "The Invisible Man", and "I Want it All"), on the cinema screen, with Freddie drawn in the style of Leonardo da Vinci, Brian in the style of Victorian etchings, Roger in the style of Jackson Pollock, and John in the style of Pablo Picasso. It also featured a montage of historical images and photographs.[1] The video won production company DoRo (who also produced the videos to all other singles from the Innuendo album) a Monitor Award for Best Achievement in Music Video.

An early draft of the video for Innuendo was banned from American television due to the inclusion of footage from the Gulf War. An alternate video (without the footage) was released and received moderate airplay in the United States.


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