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‘We were all drunk’: Queen and David Bowie wrote their hit single Under Pressure during boozy studio session and almost FORGOT song’s famous riff










David Bowie and the members of Queen came up with their legendary hit Under Pressure while drunk and almost forgot the track’s famous riff.

The song was released in 1981 and topped the UK Singles Chart while it also appeared on Queen’s 1982 album Hot Space.

The story of the hit is recounted by Queen and Bowie in the latest episode of Queen the Greatest, a YouTube series celebrating big moments in the band’s history.

Hit: David Bowie and the members of Queen came up with their legendary hit Under Pressure while drunk and almost forgot the track's famous riff (David Bowie pictured in 1992)

Hit: David Bowie and the members of Queen came up with their legendary hit Under Pressure while drunk and almost forgot the track’s famous riff (David Bowie pictured in 1992)

In both recent and archive footage, the band told how they were joined by Bowie in Montreux, Switzerland and came up with the song during a boozy recording session.

Bowie recalled: ‘They were recording there and, David [Richards, record producer] knew that I was in town, and phoned me up and asked me if I’d come down, if I’d like to go down and see what was happening.

‘So I went down and these things happen, you know, suddenly you’re writing something together and it was totally spontaneous, it certainly wasn’t planned. It was peculiar!’ 

Queen drummer Roger Taylor revealed it was Bowie’s idea for the group to write their own song with him.   

Hit: The song was released in 1981 and topped the UK Singles Chart while it also appeared on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space (L-R Brian May, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury and John Deacon in 1986)

Hit: The song was released in 1981 and topped the UK Singles Chart while it also appeared on Queen’s 1982 album Hot Space (L-R Brian May, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury and John Deacon in 1986)

He said: ‘Well, I think the process was we were all drunk, and in the studio, and we were just for fun playing all sorts of old songs.

‘I remember a couple of old Cream songs, and whatever came into our heads and I think David said, “Look, hang on a minute, why don’t we write one of our own?”‘

Bassist Brian May said it was John Deacon who came up with the song’s riff with Roger adding that he forgot what he came up with after they went to get something to eat. 

Luckily, Roger eventually remembered what his band mate did with Brian saying: ‘And by that time, David was very impassioned with it and he had a vision in his head I think.’

Record: The story of the hit is recounted by the group and Bowie in latest episode of Queen the Greatest, a YouTube series celebrating big moments in the band's history (Bowie pictured in 1983)

Record: The story of the hit is recounted by the group and Bowie in latest episode of Queen the Greatest, a YouTube series celebrating big moments in the band’s history (Bowie pictured in 1983)

Under Pressure received critical acclaim upon its release and is often considered among Queen and Bowie’s greatest songs.

The song is included on many of both Queen and Bowie’s Greatest Hits compilations and it was also memorably sampled by Vanilla Ice on his 1990 single Ice Ice Baby.

Bowie died in 2016 aged 69 from liver cancer while Queen frontman Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991 aged 45 from bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

Queen most recently released a live album called Live Around The World with Adam Lambert featuring a compilation of performances between 2014 and 2020. 

Success: Under Pressure received critical acclaim upon its release and is often considered among Queen and Bowie's greatest songs (pictured in 1970)

Success: Under Pressure received critical acclaim upon its release and is often considered among Queen and Bowie’s greatest songs (pictured in 1970)

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