Queen: Freddie Mercury Revealed Why He Had to Be a ‘B*tch’
Queen’s Freddie Mercury is one of the most beloved classic rock stars who ever lived. However, he said he had to be a “b*tch” for a very specific reason. Here’s what he had to say about his band being viewed as “a serious commodity.”
Freddie Mercury’s idea of what Queen should be
Mercury’s concept for Queen was to be a glam rock band. In Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words, he states Queen “never copied anyone.” He says the band was “into glam rock before groups like Sweet and Bowie” and that “our way was to put together a different kind of theatrical music.” How difficult was it for Queen to finally attain a place in the industry?
In 1971, Queen made a demo – Mercury states that “the moment we made a demo (in 1971) we were aware of the sharks in the business.” Queen was not going to sign on to just any record company. The band wanted to be taken as “a serious commodity, or don’t take us on at all.” He says it took Queen a long time before they actually had a recording contract. “We just got the right people to work for us, and the right company, and it took a long time.”
Queen’s Freddie Mercury discusses his ‘test of survival’
Mercury states that in order to become successful in the industry, part of your talent has to entail “making sure your music reaches people. You can’t sit in your room and be a wonderful musician and an outstanding song writer that writes good music, because no one is going to hear you…. You’ve got to learn to push yourself, be there at the right time and learn how to deal with the business.” He said musicians should have talent and business sense.
“You also have to be a b*tch to survive!” he stated. Learning how to push yourself musically and how to deal in the industry is key to success. And he says, it doesn’t get easier – “The higher up the ladder you go, the more vicious you have to be if you want to stop yourself falling off. It isn’t that I wanted to be tough and vicious, it’s something that is forced upon you.” Mercury described it as a “test of survival.” This raises an interesting question – is Queen considered one of the top bands of all times?
The success of Queen
The Guardian reports Queen’s 1981 compilation Greatest Hits sold over 6.1 million copies in the United Kingdom. As of 2016, it’s the best-selling album there. Brain May said this success far surpassed his childhood dreams.
In 2020, Business Insider ranked musicians based on albums sold in the United States according to the Recording Industry Association of America – that is, “total certified albums units sold.” Of the top 50 artists, Queen ranked at #47 with sales in the United States hitting 35 million units. It appears the band Queen didn’t merely survive — it thrived.