Queen and David Bowie wrote their hit Under Pressure during a boozy studio session

‘We Were All Drunk’: Queen and David Bowie wrote their hit single Under Pressure during a drunken studio session and almost forgot the song’s famous riff


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

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

The story of the hit is told by Queen and Bowie in the latest episode of Queen the Greatest, a YouTube series that celebrates great 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 famous riff of the song (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 famous riff of the song (David Bowie pictured in 1992)

In both recent and archival footage, the band recounted how Bowie joined them in Montreux, Switzerland, and came up with the song during a drunken recording session.

Bowie recalled, “They were there recording and, David… [Richards, record producer] knew I was in town and called me up and asked if I wanted to come down, if I wanted to go down and see what was going on.

“So I went down and these things happen, you know, all of a sudden you’re writing something together and it was all spontaneous, it definitely wasn’t planned. It was strange!’

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 also appearing on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space (LR 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 also appearing on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space (LR 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 also appearing on Queen’s 1982 album Hot Space (LR 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 kinds of old songs.

“I remember some old Cream songs, and whatever came to mind and I think David said, ‘Look, wait a minute, why don’t we write one ourselves?'”

Bassist Brian May said it was John Deacon who came up with the song’s riff with Roger adding that he forgot what he’d come up with after they went out for dinner.

Fortunately, Roger eventually remembered what his bandmate was doing to Brian: “And by then David was very passionate about it and had a vision in his head I think.”

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

Record: The story of the hit is told by the group and Bowie in the final episode of Queen the Greatest, a YouTube series that celebrates great moments in the band's history (Bowie pictured in 1983)

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

Under Pressure received critical acclaim upon release and is often regarded as one of Queen and Bowie’s best songs.

The song has been 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 of liver cancer in 2016 at age 69, while Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 of AIDS-induced bronchial pneumonia.

Queen 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 release and is often regarded as one of Queen and Bowie's best songs (pictured in 1970)

Success: Under Pressure received critical acclaim upon release and is often regarded as one of Queen and Bowie's best songs (pictured in 1970)

Success: Under Pressure received critical acclaim upon release and is often regarded as one of Queen and Bowie’s best songs (pictured in 1970)

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