Roger Taylor explained why late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury wouldn’t let the band write political songs.
The drummer just released his new solo album, Outsider, which he admits contains elements of social commentary – something Mercury refused to entertain.
“I suppose the big difference between Queen and this album is that I’ve written a couple of what you might call ‘political’ songs,” Taylor told Music Radar in a recent interview. “That wasn’t something we really did as a band. It was a conscious choice. Right at the start – and you’ve got to remember that there was a lot of hardcore political stuff going on in the ‘70s – Freddie said, ‘Look, I don’t want to get involved in all that. I want to go round the world playing songs that people can enjoy. I’m not there to deliver a message.’ I still think that’s a pretty good way to look at it. I don’t want to get too… preachy.”
He continued: “But I hope I’ve been able to stay on the right side of the fine line between rock music and politics. I hope I never get to the point where I’m poncing around on stage, pontificating about what’s wrong with the world. Freddie would never forgive me.”
Taylor said his songwriting process didn’t involve much planning. “I don’t get up in the morning and think, ‘I’ll write a Queen song today,’ or ‘I’ll write a song for the new solo album.’ … It’s only when the thing’s finished that I start to think about where a song will end up. For instance, with ‘A Kind of Magic,’ it was an obvious Queen song. Same with ‘Radio Ga Ga.’”
Taylor’s songwriting credits with Queen extend to several more of their biggest hits – but he lightheartedly lamented that many people still regard him as “just” the band’s drummer. “Last week someone said, ‘Oh, you sing on the Queen records as well?’ Yeah, I sing on them. I even bloody wrote one or two of them!”