Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” peaks to No.1 in the UK in 1981

An absolute Rock classic

Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” peaks to No.1 in the UK in 1981

“Under Pressure” was written by Queen and David Bowie as the result of a jam session between both artists at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland. Bowie originally had visited Queen in the studio to sing back vocals in one of the tracks to be featured in their album “Hot Space” that they were recording. The song’s primary musical songwriter was Freddie Mercury, though all contributed to the arrangement. Brian May recalled to Mojo magazine, in October 2008, that, “It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us. David took over the song lyrically. Looking back, it’s a great song but it should have been mixed differently. Freddie and David had a fierce battle over that. It’s a significant song because of David and its lyrical content.”There has also been some confusion about who had created the song’s bassline. John Deacon said in Japanese magazine Music life in 1982 that David Bowie created it. In more recent interviews, Brian May and Roger Taylor credited the bass riff to Deacon. Bowie, on his website, said that the bassline was already written before he became involved. The earlier, embryonic version of the song without Bowie, “Feel Like”, is widely available in bootleg form, and was written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor.



The video for the song features neither Queen nor David Bowie due to touring commitments. Taking the theme of pressure, director David Mallet edited together stock footage of traffic jams, commuter trains packed with passengers, explosions, riots, cars being crushed and various pieces of footage from silent films of the 1920s. “Under Pressure” peaked to No.1 on the UK charts on November 21st 1981, but in the U.S only reached No.29 on the Hot 100. The song is regarded as one of the finest moments in Rock music mainly due to the vocal power of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury together, but Roger Taylor also does back vocals on the song. It’s also regarded as one of both artists, Queen and David Bowie, greatest hits and most memorable songs, included generally on Greatest Hits compilations both of Queen and Bowie.



Watch the 1981 music video of “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie



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