A statement on Mercury’s website reads, “For the first time ever, after four decades buried deep in the vaults, a previously unreleased version of ‘Time’, recorded in 1986 by Freddie Mercury for the concept album of the hit musical of the same name, has finally emerged after two years of work by the globally successful musician, songwriter and producer Dave Clark, a long-time friend of Freddie’s, using the song’s full title, ‘Time Waits For No One.’ The track is set for release via Virgin EMI (Universal Music Group) TODAY, 21st June 2019, along with a powerful and deeply moving new film video.”
So why was this hidden gem under wraps for so long?
Recorded after Live Aid
After Queen’s iconic performance at Live Aid in 1985, Mercury’s close friend Dave Clark asked Mercury to record some songs. Clark described the day he heard Mercury sing the track “Time Waits for No One” (previously called “Time”). “Before any musicians came in, it was just Freddie and [session musician Mike Moran playing] piano. He sang, and it gave me goosebumps. Nobody was there. It was just amazing. I can’t even explain it,” Clark said according to Yahoo.
Clark met Mercury after a Queen concert
About 10 years before they worked on “Time” together, Clark met Mercury after one of Queen’s first major concerts in 1976. “I stood in the wings,” Clark said, as reported by Yahoo. “He came on in a leotard with black nail varnish and I thought, ‘What’s this? Liza Minnelli?’ Then he opened his mouth and sang, and I went, ‘Wow.’ He was unbelievable, just unbelievable. An incredible performer. Then, after the show, we all went with Elton [John] to Mr. Chow’s, which was a big restaurant in London. We were just mates. And that was it.”
As their friendship developed, Clark was able to convince Mercury to work with him on some songs, though Clark was warned my many in the music industry that Mercury was difficult to deal with. “It was amazing, because everybody said he would be a nightmare to work with. I’m very focused on what I want to do, and it’s got to be right; Freddie is the same. The amazing thing was, I didn’t agree with certain things, and he gave into it,” Clark said, according to Yahoo. “He came up with things that I wasn’t sure of, but we were working to make the best possible record. There was never any arguments or anything like that. He was amazing. It worked. …The friendship really developed then.”
Why release the song now?
Clark remained close friends with Mercury right up until Mercury’s death in 1991 from AIDS. “I did see him right at the end,” Clark said, as reported by Yahoo. “I don’t want to get into [talking about] the end, because I think we’re talking about Freddie when he’s alive and the amazing contribution he made.”
Clark spent a decade looking for Mercury’s lost vocal track of “Time,” according to Yahoo, saying “I thought, ‘I’d love to hear the original performance,’ but I couldn’t find it. It’s because we did so many tracks. I sent my engineer down, and we went through [the vaults]. Couldn’t find it. So I let it go. A few years later, I said, ‘Go on. Go through all the banks again.’”
Clark’s persistence paid off. He worked on the track for two years, according to CBS News, creating a version that just had Mercury’s legendary voice. Clark waited a while to release the song, feeling it would be “wrong” to release it during the promotion of the film Bohemian Rhapsody. He eventually brought the track to Queen manager Jim Beach. “He came over to my house, and before we started talking, I said, ‘I’ve got something I’d like to show you that might make you smile.’ I didn’t say what it was. He loved it,” Clark said, as reported by Yahoo.
Clark unearthed the song in recognition of Mercury’s talent. “I’ve done this [“Time Waits for No One”] for a tribute to Freddie,” Clark said. Freddie Mercury’s “Time Waits for No One” is now available to be streamed and downloaded.