Brian May and Roger Taylor Recall Chances to Quit Queen

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Brian May and Roger Taylor recalled the opportunities they both had to leave Queen before the band found global success with singer Freddie Mercury.

The group’s fierce loyalty meant they all returned to what they called “the mothership,” regardless of any other projects. But in a recent interview with Classic Rock, the guitarist recounted the moment Ron and Russell Mael invited him to join Sparks, while the drummer told of his short-lived connection with Genesis.

“Sparks approached me,” May said. “It was after they had their major hit, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us,’ and we’d just had ‘Killer Queen’ out. The two brothers  came round my flat. They said, ‘Look, Brian, Queen isn’t going anywhere … you’re not going to have any more hits, but we’re going to conquer the world.’ And I went, ‘Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’m fine.’”

Asked if Genesis tried to “poach” him during Queen’s early years, Taylor said, “Well, they invited me to the studio to listen to them, then we went to the pub. They didn’t say, ‘Do you want to join the group?’ But I get the impression that’s what they wanted, because their drummer had left. … They’re all lovely people, but I didn’t really get the music, to be honest. It was a bit too prog for me. I had a wonderful offer from Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter, actually. It was going to be called Hunter Ronson Taylor. I think that would have been good.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the pair noted that, in Queen’s heyday, they were the ones responsible for most of the disagreements within the group. Asked what kind of subjects might get them started, May said, “Anything and nothing – a note, a tempo, a cup of coffee, a window.”

Taylor remembered that Mercury always played the role of “peacemaker”; May agreed, adding, “We needed someone who would be the diplomat. And, strangely enough, Freddie was that guy. Everybody thinks that Freddie was that flyaway guy, but he was very pragmatic. If he saw a situation that was arising between me and Roger, he would manage to find a way through, a compromise. One of Freddie’s great catchphrases was, ‘We don’t compromise.’ But within the band we did. And that’s why we survived.”

 

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