Queen and David Bowie wrote "Under Pressure" while drunk

September 01, 2021

"Under Pressure" was written after an evening with plenty of drink and plenty of pizza.
YouTube's "Queen The Greatest" series this week honors one of the greatest collaborations in rock history, "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie.

During the final episode of the series, Brian May and Roger Taylor of the Queen met David Bowie in Montreux, Switzerland for pizza and drinks.

In 1981 the Queen bought the famous Mountain Studios in Montreux and during a recording, the studio's sound engineer, Dave Richards, made a spontaneous phone call to David Bowie.

"They were recording there and David (Richards) knew I was in town and he called me and asked if I would come, if I would like to go and see what was going on," Bowie recalls of rare footage that came to light.

"So I went and these things happen, suddenly we wrote something together and it was completely spontaneous, it was definitely not planned. "It was weird!" He continues.

Drummer Roger Taylor reveals that "Under Pressure" is due to the drinks they drank.

"Well, I think during the process we were all drunk and in the studio we played all sorts of old songs for fun. I remember some old Cream songs and whatever came to mind and I think David said, "Wait a minute, why don't we write our own song?"

Freddie Mercury says in the video: "We were joking and then playing with pieces and suddenly we said 'why not see what we can do in the momentum?'".

Producer Reinhold Mack adds: "Then there was the pressure of the presence of His Majesty David, and everyone wanted to look polite and fast and come up with ideas."

Their drinks led to pizza and when they returned, bassist John Deacon had forgotten the rhythm he had thought. Fortunately, Roger Taylor finally remembered it.

"And until that moment David was very passionate about this song and had a vision in mind, I think. "It's quite a difficult process and one has to go back, and in fact I was the one who did it back, which is unusual for me," notes Brian May.

The result of that long night was "Under Pressure" and when it was released in October 1981, it gave the Queen their second No. 1 in the UK and became a huge success around the world.

While the Queen was on tour, they could not make a music video for "Under Pressure" and so director David Mallet captured the essence of the song in a beautifully edited montage of archival material.

"Under Pressure" became an integral part of the Queen's concerts and one of the highlights was the Freddie Mercury Memorial Concert on April 20, 1992, where David Bowie and Annie Lennox met Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon for a really shocking look.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest hits of the Queen and it was no surprise that the readers of "Rolling Stone" magazine recently voted "Under Pressure" as one of the greatest musical collaborations of all time.