Live Aid changed everything. As the movie Bohemian Rhapsody reminded everybody, the band was not in a great place at the time. Freddie had gone off to pursue solo projects and “has stepped so far away”, May freely admits, “I thought we might not get him back.” But the guitarist also revealed there was another major worry which meant the band seriously considered not doing the show at all.
In a comprehensive and fascinating major interview with Mojo magazine, May and bandmate Roger Taylor talk about the momentous event which has become part of music history.
May said: “Our personal relationships had all suffered by then… Normally we would all go off and do our own separate things but we’d stay in contact with the mother ship, as we really did call it. But Freddie became estranged for a while… This was at various times in the early 80s.
“We definitely hesitated about doing Live Aid.”
But there was an even greater problem than the band divisions.
May explained: “(It was) not just Freddie. We had to consider whether we were in good enough shape to do it. It would have been easier not to do it, as the chances of making fools of ourselves were so big.”
Of course, what happened is one of the most iconic moments in popular entertainment history. Among a staggering array of the world’s biggest stars, Queen totally and undeniably stole the show, which s why we are still talking about it 34 years later.
Taylor recalled the moment when he knew something incredible was happening.
Taylor told Mojo: “There was a point during We Are The Champions where the audience was swaying as one, like a field of wheat, and I thought, ‘Oh, OK.’
“I went back to Freddie’s later and at some point in the night said, ‘You know what, Fred, I think we were really good.’ I had no idea what Live Aid would lead to. It gave us a second wind.”