The Queen Song That Brian May Disliked

British rock outfit Queen was at the top of their game when they released their seventh album, Jazz, in 1978. They were still reeling from the success of their previous record, News of the World, which spawned the classic anthems “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.”

When bandmates Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon came together to assemble the tracks for Jazz, they ran into a few creative disagreements. One of the most notable was May’s dislike of the song “Don’t Stop Me Now,” which would become one of the group’s biggest hits.

In a 2019 print interview with Guitar World, May revealed what sparked his hesitations about the track.

“I didn’t really take to it in the beginning,” says May. “I didn’t feel totally comfortable with what Freddie was singing at the time. I found it a little bit too flippant in view of the dangers of AIDS and stuff.”

Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic didn’t become a prominent public issue until the early 1980s, the then-mysterious disease had already been spreading across the globe for nearly a decade.

The song’s message of perseverance (I’m not running from my kryptonite, and I’ll keep rising up / Oh, can’t stop me now) hit a sour note for May. It was frontman Freddie Mercury’s ability to bring energy and passion into the track that led him to agree for it to be included on Jazz and later released as a radio single.

“I had to give in. It’s a great song – there’s no way around it,” May explains. “I think that’s what Freddie had an amazing knack of doing: he could put his button on things that make people feel a bit more alive.”

Sadly, the issue that led May to push back on the recording of “Don’t Stop Me Now” would eventually make its own devastating impact on the band. Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987 and continued to create and release music until he died of complications from the disease on November 24, 1991. He was 45.

In the many years since Mercury’s passing, the remaining members of Queen have forged on. They continue to perform their biggest hits, including “Don’t Stop Me Now,” with Adam Lambert stepping in as lead vocalist.

May says that the energy and excitement that fans feel from the song is what brings him peace while performing.

“I don’t have any quarrel with it now – I enjoy playing it onstage. It’s wonderful that everyone wants to sing it,” he explains. “In singing with us, they express their own joy and their own determination to make the best out of their lives and to keep on and not get knocked down by things.”

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