According to the surviving members of the amazing British rock group “Queen,” it was Aretha Franklin who influenced Freddie Mercury when he was writing their mega-hit “Somebody to Love.” The song debuted on Queen’s “A Day at the Races” album in 1976 and has similarities to their earlier hit, the incredible “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Both songs have guitar solos and complex harmonies. However, while “Bohemian Rhapsody” mimics an English choir, “Somebody to Love” mimics a gospel choir. The song hit number two on the charts in the United Kingdom and number 13 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“Somebody to Love” was written by Freddie at the piano and is a soul-searching song that questions life without love and God’s role in it. Queen used their signature voice-layering techniques to create the soulful sound of a choir with 100 voices, and they did it with just three singers: Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Freddie Mercury. Bass guitarist John Deacon didn’t sing backup vocals on the album because he was famously not a singer. Roger Taylor said later that Freddie had a fascination and huge admiration for American singer Aretha Franklin. One of my favorite covers of this beautiful song was in the movie “Ella Enchanted,” which made it as fun as it is beautiful.
A year after Freddie Mercury died in November 1991, the remaining members of the iconic group teamed up with several artists to perform a benefit concert for AIDS awareness. The show was The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness and it was held on April 20, 1992, at London’s Wembley Stadium. This show was notable as the last performance with Queen by bassist John Deacon, who maintained that without Freddie, Queen was dead.
The concert was a huge hit. The minute tickets went on sale, the 72,000 available tickets sold out within just three hours. Remarkably, no performers had even been announced other than the remaining Queen members. Some notable performances at the concert included Elton John, Axl Rose (singing “Bohemian Rhapsody”), Def Leppard, Robert Plant, and more. However, one of the best performances of the night was by George Michael singing “Somebody to Love.” Re-live this moment below.
This was amazing! Good job, Mr. Michael!