The Beatles: How The Fab Four Influenced Queen

The Beatles have influenced numerous artists, particularly other British rock bands. It’s hard to imagine the Electric Light Orchestra or Oasis existing without them. Their influence also exerts itself in unexpected ways. Queen’s music sounds very different from the Fab Four’s, but Queen’s music was nevertheless influenced by John Lennon and company.

Brian May opened up about the Fab Four’s influence on his band. May knew there was something magical about the band from the first time he heard one of their early hits. May also said the White Album helped Queen find their musical direction.

The Beatles sitting down | Central Press/Getty Images

How the Beatles influenced Queen’s sound

May’s parents wouldn’t allow him to go to pop concerts. As such, he never got to see the Beatles live. However, he did hear them on the radio. However, he knew something was special about the Fab Four from the moment he first heard “Love Me Do.”

Queen are famous for their exquisite harmonies. May said those harmonies were inspired by some of the bands who came before them. He specifically cited the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and the Beatles as influences on Queen. May also said the White Album, particularly “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” and “Dear Prudence,” provided his band with a masterclass of composition.

May said “The Beatles built our bible as far as musical composition, arrangement and production went. The White Album is a complete catalogue of how you should use a studio to build songs. ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ and ‘Dear Prudence’ are blinding examples of how music can be like painting a picture on a canvas.”

How the Beatles inspired Queen’s studio wizardry and lyrics

The Beatles were known for using the recording studio as an instrument in and of itself. When many bands write songs, they need to make sure the songs they make can be reproduced live. The Beatles stopped touring, so they could craft songs which they could never hope to recreate live – “Revolution 9” being a prime example. 

May was aware of how the Beatles used the recording studio as an instrument. He said the Beatles helped his band to “became passionate about building stuff in the studio.” However, May says Queen were more concerned with live performance than the Beatles.

Some of the Beatles’ influence on Queen is very obvious. Alternative Nation notes a similarity between the Fab Four’s “I Saw Her Standing There” and Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack.” “I Saw Her Standing There” opens with the immortal lyric “Well, she was just seventeen/You know what I mean” while “Sheer Heart Attack” opens up with “Well you’re just 17 and all you want to do is disappear/You know what I mean there’s a lot of space between your ears.” “She was just seventeen” is one of the Beatles’ most famous lyrics and it’s interesting to see Queen put their own spin on it, the same way Queen put their own spin on the Beatles’ style.

Also see: Why Did An Original Member of Queen Lash Out Over ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?