Highlander Queen songs ‘opened a floodgate’ for Brian May ‘dealing with various tragedies’

4 mins read

This week’s episode of Queen the Greatest looks back at the band’s second time working on a Hollywood movie. Having penned the Flash Gordon soundtrack, the band were roped into contributing to 1986’s Highlander by director Russell Mulcahy after showing Queen 20 minutes of rough footage. In the end, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon agreed to write six songs and additional music, when the filmmaker was only hoping for one initially.

Roger Taylor remembered: “I don’t know what prompted Russell to get in touch with us, but he said, ‘Come down to a screening theatre and have a look at this and see what you like.’ 

“And we went and we saw the opening scenes and then I think the love scene, in the Highlands, and we thought it was magnificent, visually.

“It was nowhere near finished by then, we just thought, ‘That’s really great, we could do some good stuff on that’.  And that inspired Brian to write Who Wants To Live Forever, and then I wrote A Kind Of Magic off that, nicking the line from the film.  And that was quite a nice experience.”

For Brian May though, the plot involving the danger of falling in love really hit home with him personally.

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Brian shared: “It depends how well you know the Highlander film, but it’s a film about a man who becomes conscious that he’s immortal, and he’s reluctant to accept the fact.

“He’s told that if he falls in love he’s in for big trouble, but of course he falls in love anyway and the girl that he falls in love with eventually grows old and dies in his arms.

“That kind of opened up a floodgate in me, I was dealing with various tragedies in my own life, the death of my father, the death of the marriage etc, etc, so I could immediately hear this Who Wants To Live Forever song in my head.”

The Queen guitarist remembers running the song by his manager during a drive.

Highlander director Russell Mulcahy teamed up with Queen again to make their promo videos for Princes of the Universe and A Kind Of Magic.

Roger said: “I remember discussing it with the director, Russell Mulcahy, saying how we want strange little things to happen.

“Like I remember I sort of wanted gargoyles winking and things like that, and having this magic stuff flying all over the place.  And I think it worked nicely, it’s unpretentious, and it’s rather nice.”

Next week’s episode of Queen the Greatest will look at the band’s 1986’s The Magic Tour.

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