25 December 2013 by Jane Stevenson, WMI agency
Freddie Mercury may be long gone but he’s hardly forgotten. The memory of Queen’s flamboyant frontman, who died in 1991 from complications from AIDS, is being kept alive in a new biopic and new 2014 album by the British rockers.
The movie is now starring British actor Ben Whishaw (Q in Skyfall) – after Sacha Baron Cohen dropped out – and there’s a new Queen album in the works using long forgotten Mercury vocals including two duets with the late Michael Jackson.
“It’s not demos actually, it’s actual material that we recorded,” said Queen drummer Roger Taylor, 64, whose just released his fifth solo album, Fun on Earth (Nov. 11) featuring a guest appearance by legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds).
“I got to admit I’d forgotten about most of it because, you know, you work on a different song everyday and then the ones that you don’t end up actually developing, get forgotten. Some of it’s very good actually. I’m quite surprised what they’ve come up. I think they’re unheard songs. There’s different things. It’s all a bit of a mix at the moment and (Queen guitarist) Brian (May)’s working more on that than I am in the moment. I’ve been doing all this other stuff. But I will be getting together with him in the new year to finish what we’ve got there and then we’re going to fashion some kind of album although the exact shape and form of it I’m not sure yet.”
As for the MJ duets?
“It depends on the Michael Jackson estate getting themselves together,” said Taylor. “It’s not the easiest thing I think – getting any feedback. But one of those tracks is in great shape and the other one just needs some work.”
We caught up with Taylor recently down the line from his Surrey, England home.
Q. How far back do some of the Fun On Earth tunes go?
A. About five years probably and I guess that’s why it’s so eclectic. They’re all very different which is sort of what I wanted really. I wanted to sort of show a whole range of emotions.
Q. How did Beck end up on the Fun on Earth Track Say It’s Not True?
A. He’s a really good friend of mine actually. In fact, he came to see me sing on Saturday. And we’ve done some shows together and it’s a fabulous combination. He really is my favourite guitar player. He’s so blindingly brilliant – a virtuoso. He can only be him when you hear the guitar. The thing on the album is an old song which Jeff chose when we were rehearsing for a charity show we were doing and he said, “Let’s do that one. I like that one.’ And so we recorded it as we were rehearsing and that’s the third take.
Q. And how does May feel about your feelings for Beck?
A. I exclude Brian because obviously he’s brilliant but he’s sort of me really. Jeff is monumental.
Q. What is the prospect of a Queen tour in 2014 given you recently played with Adam Lambert at the I Heart Radio Festival in Las Vegas and six dates before that previously?
A. It was a one-off but it went really fantastically well. He’s really come on even more. He’s a real dark force now. And he’s very theatrical. And he really interprets our songs just brilliantly. And he has that incredible instrument, that voice and I feel he’s going away from the pop thing which is good I think. And he’s becoming a serious player. He’s got a voice which is pretty unbeatable. I do think we will be working with Adam next year, yeah.
Q. Will you come to Canada?
A. We certainly wouldn’t leave Canada out.