For decades, it has been highly speculated that Queen’s iconic hit, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, includes a hidden drug reference that the group subliminally instilled within the song — but is there any truth to it?
Throughout their storied history, the rock pioneers didn’t have a notable relationship with drugs and, in truth, it was only frontman Freddie Mercury who notably dabbled with substances. However, the charismatic singer was an extremely private person, and that part of his life is coated in mystery. His close friend, Elton John, once proclaimed: “Freddie could out party him which is really saying something”. In his memoir, he also claimed that Mercury was “no saint when it came to booze and drugs”.
For a prolonged period of time, the religious right believed rock ‘n’ roll was an off-shoot of occultism and, in an attempt to silence the cultural boom, began to spread malicious rumours about Queen and various other groups. When subliminal messaging became a new craze in the early 1980s and picked up mainstream attention, James Gilbert, minister at the Church Of Christ in Kaufman, warned the Iowa Telegraph Herald about its prominence in popular culture. He explained: “A subliminal message is a message that’s below a discernible level. Your conscious mind hears one thing, but your subconscious mind can pick the other up. That’s what’s so aggravating”.
Adding: “They’re messing with our mind and you don’t even know it. Subliminal persuasion is as close to mind control as you can get. The occult influence is the part that bothers me the most. Groups like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and The Rolling Stones – the are really into the occult.”
Michael Mills, Minister Of Youth And Evangelism At The Family Altar Chapel, Battle Creek, Michigan, was a prominent figure in this religious movement. He was the person to first uncover the so-called subliminal message in ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. Mills also hosted a series of radio programmes about satanic messaging and claimed: “The music group Queen has a message for you. In their album A Night At The Opera, they sing ‘Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me’. In their hit Another One Bites The Dust, their hidden message – in reverse – is ‘Some of us smoke marijuana’.”
Despite the whispers and swirling rumours, no member from Queen ever mustered the energy to respond to this outlandish theory, and it’s hard to blame them. If Freddie Mercury wanted to tell people to smoke marijuana, it wouldn’t have been in his character to do it this discreetly.
Mills was clutching at straws to try to make Mercury seem like an incarnation of the devil when Queen were nothing but a force for good. However, the band represented a progressive and inclusive future embodied by Freddie Mercury, who was also everything that the religious right detests.