Brian May – Star Fleet Sessions: How It Began (Episode 1)


Star Fleet group

It’s 1983 and Queen are taking a break.  Brian is in LA, at a loose end, feeling creatively inspired – so he picks up the phone and makes a call.  Find out who he called and what happened next...

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STAR FLEET SESSIONS – Episode 1 [15 June 2023]
–  [EPISODE 2 and TRANSCRIPT – Meet The Band – HERE]


In 1983 it was a time when Queen, this band, which we put together as boys, had matured and become something big around the whole world – incredible – hit singles everywhere. The members of Queen had become slightly, I think, irritated with each other or just too much, you know. We’d been touring, recording, touring, recording, touring whole time without a break. In 1983 we decided we needed a break, and what I remember most vividly is waking up in LA, one of my favourite places and thinking I could do anything today – “Sun is shining. I’ve got friends here. Why don’t I make some phone calls?” And that’s what happened.

I got on the phone to Ed Van Halen  – “Fancy in the studio?” – “Yeah, Yeah”, – Phil Chen, bass player extraordinaire, Fred Mandel, great keyboard player who was already involved with Queen. He’d done a lot of stuff on Radio Ga Ga – magnificent keyboard player actually. And Alan Gratzer, who’s drummer of REO Speedwagon – lives about 30 yards away, 100 yards away, on my street, you know, in LA. And we’d talked before: “Wouldn’t it be nice to do something together? You never know?” Well, this was the moment.

So I had some ideas in my head. The biggest idea was I wanted to bring this TV series theme into kind of rock domain, as I saw it. I wanted to experiment with it, and I could hear stuff that I wanted to do with it – had an arrangement in my head – and I wanted to give a platform for Edward to play. I wanted to hear what he would do given a spot, like “Go now”. And I wanted to explore just making the song into some kind of Rock Anthem rather than the position that it had occupied, which was the theme tune with a very good Japanese cartoon/science fiction series “Star Fleet”.

So I also had this song called ‘Let Me Out’. So I circulated a couple of demos to the chaps so they knew roughly what I had in mind. But I said: “Look, I want to be loose. I want to go in there prepared, but prepared for anything. So if we get ideas, we can go off at tangents, etc.”

It was incredible to go in the studio with these people, look into their eyes and think we could do anything. “What shall we do?” And we start playing and it was just charged with electricity  – charged with excitement and anticipation. And of course, this is five people who have never played together, ever before – not like Queen going in. We know each other inside out. We toss things around in the way we always do. Now, this was new – completely different.

And I remember Alan Gratzer saying: “Feels a bit like cheating on your wife”, you know, and not that he would have known, I have to tell you, bless him. But it was a great feeling just to go in there and have this completely new interaction with people all of whom I really respected, I must say, they’re all great musicians in their own right.

So that was it. We had a couple of little rehearsals around my house. Not really a hassle –  just plugging each other into a rock mood[?] and playing with each other, but getting the idea. And then we bowled in on the day – sand plugged in – and off we went.