Brian May says Queen used to get “irritated” when audiences sang along to songs

He said in the band's earliest days, they just wanted audiences "to listen" to their songs

Brian May has said Queen used to get “irritated” by crowds singing every line to their songs during their earliest days as a band.

Speaking to Total Guitar magazine, May said initially, they just wanted fans to listen to the lyrics they’d spent hours coming up with.

He explained: “Because we thought: ‘People, just listen. We’re working really hard, so bloody well listen!’ But they were unstoppable.”


He recalled a gig where fans sang along to every word of their songs at a time, he said, when that was still quite rare.

He continued: “And this particular night, they sang every word to every song, which was rather novel in those days. I mean, I went to a [Led] Zeppelin concert and I don’t remember people singing along to ‘Communication Breakdown’ or whatever they were playing. When Zeppelin played, they listened. They banged their heads, and they listened. And I thought about our concerts: why don’t you buggers listen instead of singing?”

Queen performing live on-stage
Queen perform live. CREDIT: Press

He went on to say after the performed ‘We Will Rock You’ at Bingley Hall in the Midlands, England, in the late 1970s, May told late frontman Freddie Mercury they should encourage the crowd to sing because it helps the “energy” of their performance.

“Anyway, that night at Bingley Hall, we came off stage and we all looked at each other in amazement, because all that singing from the audience was so extreme. And I said to Freddie, ‘Maybe, instead of fighting this, we should be encouraging it. Maybe we should be harnessing this kind of energy which seems to be happening.’

“And we all agreed that this was something really interesting that we should experiment.”


Recently, Queen launched a 50-week Youtube series called Queen: The Greatest Live, which is set to offer fans an insight into their live on the road.

It is the sequel to their previous YouTube series Queen: The Greatest, which was announced in March 2021 and told the band’s story from their earliest shows to their return with Adam Lambert. The new series promises “rare archive live footage, contemporary performances and behind-the-scenes interviews from across Queen’s five decades”.

The series was put together by longtime band associate Simon Lupton, who produced Queen: The Greatest and also worked on the documentaries Queen: Rock the World, Queen: Behind the Rhapsody, Queen: Days of Our Lives, Queen on Fire: Live at the Bowl and Queen Live at Wembley ’86.  

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