Freddie Mercury had impressed the rock music scene since the beginning of his career with his four-octave vocal range and glamorous stage style. Mercury improved himself in music and played in several bands in the schools he went to until the establishment of Queen. Mercury wrote or co-wrote many of their hit songs like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ and ‘Killer Queen.’
His theatrical style in the live performances attracted the audience to Queen. Besides his vocal skills, Mercury liked to surprise the people with his shows, as he did in Live Aid in 1985. Although many years have passed since it first aired, the show has been considered the best performance in rock history. Besides working with Queen, Freddie also gave importance to his solo works. He made successful solo albums and songs while contributing to other musicians’ works.
The Solo Career Of Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury released two solo albums named ‘Mr. Bad Guy’ in 1985 and ‘Barcelona’ in 1988. The latter saw a collaboration with the soprano vocalist Montserrat Caballé as the duo mixed popular music and opera, bringing them international success.
The rocker recorded several songs with other notable musicians, including Michael Jackson. However, their works were not released officially at that time. Mercury and Roger Taylor sang for Billy Squier’s 1982 album ‘Emotions in Emotion.’ Besides these solo albums and collaborations, he wanted to cover The Platters’ song ‘The Great Pretender. Later, he released the cover, and it reached number 4 on the UK charts.
Why Was Queen An Obstacle To Freddie Mercury’s Dream?
The Platters’ ‘The Great Pretender,’ written and composed by Buck Ram, was released in 1955. It gained great success by becoming the best-selling R&B song in 1956. Freddie Mercury became one of the musicians who covered this song. By having a good place on UK charts, ‘The Great Pretender’ gained a reputation with Mercury’s version. Mercury felt connected with this song as he thought the song reflected his music career.
While he was answering the questions in the 1987 Jukebox Interview, Mercury mentioned that he always had the idea of making a cover of ‘The Great Pretender.’ He talked about how he tried to sing the song in a studio and liked it fitted his voice. However, he couldn’t achieve his dream of covering this song with Queen, as he stated. According to Freddie, Queen was always creating their original songs instead of playing others’.
He explained in his words:
“I wanted to do a cover version a long time ago. You can’t do that with Queen because we write around the original material. I’ve always had that in the back of my head. This song was the one that I’ve always wanted to do. So, before Christmas, I went into the studio to try that. I liked that it suited my voice, and it’s a great song to sing.
I sort of went ahead and just released it as a fun single. When it came out, there was this huge research of all things. It looked like I jumped into a bandwagon. But luckily, it came out on the front end. If it came in two weeks later, it would’ve looked like I ran into the studio trying to do that. I’m glad it just happened at the right time.”
You can watch the entire interview and listen to the song below.