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(Credit: Far Out / Carol Lee / Alamy)


The story of how Aretha Franklin inspired a classic Queen song


Aretha Franklin is one of the most acclaimed vocalists of all time, and the same thing can be said of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury. When artists inspire one another, it can be an extremely beautiful experience, not unlike the time Aretha Franklin inspired a well-loved Queen number.

When considering the sheer power of Aretha Franklin‘s soulful vocals, it might not be hard to guess that Freddie Mercury was thinking of her when he dreamed up ‘Somebody to Love’.

Of his thought process, he said in an interview, “We had the same three people singing on the big choir sections. But I think it had a different kind of technical approach because there was this sort of Gospel way of singing, which I think was different to us. Sort of going to Aretha Franklin, sort of made them go a bit mad.”

Detailing further, Mercury continued: “I just wanted to write something in that kind of thing. I was sort of incensed by the Gospel approach that she had on hear albums, the earlier albums. Although it might sound the same kind of approach on the harmonies, it is very different in the studio, because it’s like a different kind of… a different range.”

“People will obviously no matter how hard you try will think in terms of your past hits. That’s inevitable,” he said, “But I think it’s up to the group and musicians to really think in other terms. From my point of view, I mean, as far as the writing side of it is concerned, I said ‘Ok. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a big hit’.”

The enigmatic lead singer went on to conclude: “But as far as my writing ability is concerned I think I can write better anyway. I mean, I went and wrote, for my estimation, I think a song like ‘Somebody To Love’, is in my estimation, a better sort of… from the writing aspect a better song.”

Of course, when looking back at the icons of contemporary culture, it is always fascinating to discover the ways in which artists can inspire one another, even in unexpected ways. Even Brian May, Mercury’s axe-wielding bandmate, was in on it, as he commented: “Freddie wanted to be Aretha Franklin. You have to bear this in mind. That explains everything. He loved Aretha. This was his Gospel epic…Freddie came in very well prepared with a lot of vocal parts. We just worked our way through it. A very good feeling. I always remember feeling ‘This is going to be something great’.”

Listen to ‘Somebody to Love’, below.