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Queen and David Bowie jammed on Cream covers at the 1981 sessions that produced “Under Pressure”

Photo of QUEEN, Freddie Mercury and Brian May performing on stage
(Image credit: Phil Dent/Redferns)

Brian May recently went deep with us on the making of Bohemian Rhapsody, and now, in a new interview with Record Collector, the electric guitar player – along with Queen drummer Roger Taylor – has delved into the 1981 recording sessions with David Bowie that produced the hit duet, Under Pressure.

In the most enticing tidbit, the two revealed that in addition to Under Pressure, the alcohol-fueled sessions, which took place at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland in the summer of ’81, saw the superstars jamming on a variety of songs – “whatever came into our head,” said Taylor.

This included, as Taylor revealed, old Cream covers. “We would do the odd thing, like covering old Cream songs,” he said. “I remember we did NSU and I Feel Free, just for a laugh really, and then we decided, ‘Let’s write one for ourselves.’ ”

That “one,” of course, turned into Under Pressure, which went on to top the charts in the UK.

While there’s no word on whether these Cream covers might ever see the light of day, it’s worth noting that both May and Taylor, with their pre-Queen band Smile, as well as Bowie – both with the Spiders from Mars and on his Black Tie White Noise album – had covered I Feel Free previously.

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.