When the lead singer of Queen, the most iconic rock band of all time, duetted with the King of Pop himself, the ultimate collaboration was born. First spotted backstage at a Queen concert in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson (25) confessed to being a Freddie Mercury (37) fan. He went to several shows before finally meeting Mercury, alongside his bandmates, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon.
During the next three or four years, the pair developed a great friendship built on music and mutual admiration. Despite having very different personalities and styles, Mercury valued Jackson’s musical expertise and referred to him as ‘ Little Brother’ during interviews. In 1983, the pair began recording demos in Jackson’s home studio. Although originally written by Queen’s frontman for their 1982 album, Hot Space, ‘There Must Be More To Life Than This’ was one of three songs they worked on.
By Mercury’s own admittance, the songs were great. But in his book, Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury, he explained that the problem was time. And so the tracks remained unreleased.
Whilst time probably was a factor, it wasn’t the only issue according to Queen’s manager, Jim “Miami” Beach. Mercury grew uncomfortable with Jackson’s work ethic and, in particular, his pet llama, who regularly came into the studio. He called Beach stating he’d had enough and wanted to get out.
This, in addition to reports of Jackson being unhappy with Mercury’s use of cocaine in his home, led to the pair clashing. Their extraordinary relationship was strained and recording ceased.
Two years later, in 1985, Mercury reworked and released a solo version as the eighth track on his debut album, ‘Mr. Bad Guy’.
After the death of both Mercury and Jackson (in 1991 and 2009), the song resurfaced as a joint version, released on Queen’s 2014 album, Queen Forever. It was produced and mixed by William Orbit. And it contained the original backing track recorded in 1981 with May on guitar, Taylor on drums and Deacon on bass. The long-awaited collaboration was finally released in all its glory.