Roger Taylor’s Ultimatum To Freddie Mercury
Integrating musically diverse ideas should be a delicate process as every musician have their respective beliefs and ideas. If not orchestrated well, creative differences may cause trouble within the band, leading to tense inner dynamics or disbandments. When Queen decided to work on their fourth studio album, ‘A Night at the Opera,’ the rockers retreated to the countryside to be mused by the sublime and peaceful nature.
That peace broke, however, when the drummer Roger Taylor came up with the song ‘I’m in Love With My Car.’ The song was an ode by Roger Taylor to his then car, an Alfa Romeo. The car enthusiast drummer was known for his love of luxury vehicles, often standing firm in his belief that cars were a true companion to men. His interest was shared by one of the band’s roadies, Johnathan Harris, who had previously stated that his car was the love of his love.
The inner notes of the song mentioned Harris as Taylor dedicated the single to him. The drummer was quite proud of his work and shared his ideas with his bandmates on one peaceful day in the countryside. However, his bandmates did not share the same enthusiasm. Still, Taylor put his foot down and was ready to do whatever it took to get the song released.
What Was Roger Taylor’s Terms To Make Peace With The Band?
The creative dispute within the band because of ‘I’m in Love With My Car’ was also featured in the successful 2018 Queen biopic, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ The scene was directed under the provision of Brian May and Roger Taylor and showed the audience how tense it got between the band members. As the argument got heated, the drummer started to throw whatever he could grab at his bandmates, eventually stopping as May and Deacon yelled out not to throw the coffee machine.
Even though the scene was rather comical in the biopic, the reality was that Roger Taylor’s determination caused an inner friction within the band’s dynamics. Brian May later recalled, as it’s also featured in the movie, that when the Queen drummer first revealed the title of the song and lyrics, the guitarist thought that Taylor was not serious. As Roger Taylor was unamused with the criticism he received from his bandmates, he decided to set his own terms.
In addition to the song being featured on ‘A Night at the Opera’s Side One, the drummer also wanted the song to be on Side Two of the single ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ which meant that Taylor, as the sole songwriter, would generate the equal amount of publishing royalties as Freddie Mercury did for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ Mercury, however, was not impressed with the drummer’s requests and rejected his terms. Eventually, Taylor got so angry that he locked himself in a cupboard and stayed in it until Mercury finally agreed.
In the 2005 documentary, ‘Queen: The Making of Night At The Opera,’ the drummer recalled the dispute:
”I made through a very rough demo, and I remember asking Brian, ‘What are you thinking about that?’ and he said, ‘You’re joking, aren’t you? You’re joking.’ And I said, ‘No, Brian. I’m dead serious. You know, it’s [the song] about a car, and you know, somebody is in love with it.”
Then May jokingly put forward his thoughts of the incident:
”It tells you it was written about somebody else, but we know the truth, don’t we, Rog? [laughs] Roger was always into fast things, fast cars, et cetera, et cetera. It’s [the song] very tuneful, but of course, the vocal is the thing. The vocal is the song, and that’s a very memorable piece of writing there.”
Taylor was successful in giving an ultimatum to Mercury and his bandmates. The song was released on Side Two of the single ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Side One of ‘A Night At The Opera.’ It achieved critical acclaim as many praised the song for its macho lyrics and mid-tempo hard rock style. Some even went on to call it the ‘album highlight.’
You can listen to the song down below.