- Publish Date
- Saturday, 5 June 2021, 10:00AM
*Stomp-stomp clap, stomp-stomp clap*
Queen has had many iconic moments in its career, but the band's most universal track, is perhaps so ubiquitous that it transcends the band's own luminosity.
There's a better chance than not that at this very moment, somewhere in the world, "We Will Rock You" is reverberating through a hall, and that someone is stomping and clapping along. It's an appropriate, if not, unbelievable turn for a song that was written to foster unity among strangers.
In the first of a new two-part episode of Queen's career-spanning YouTube miniseries, Queen The Greatest, Brian May recalls getting the idea for "We Will Rock You" after the band played a particularly raucous gig at a venue called Bingley Hall in Stafford, England. At the time it was somewhat uncommon for an English audience to sing along to a rock band in concert, but the Bingley Hall audience did just that, to every lyric of the set, and they didn't stop singing even after the encore.
"I think I’d gone to sleep thinking – ‘what could an audience do, what could you ask them to do?’" May said. "They’re all crammed in there, they can’t do much, but they can stamp their feet they can clap their hands, and they can sing.”
As far as the way it would sound on the News of the World album, May's thoughts drifted to a memory of playing the old Boston Garden, which he recalls being "an enormous place, all made of wood. So when they clapped and stamped there, it was a stupendous noise. I wanted to hear that kind of noise on the record."
While it's easy to take the song at face value, for May the song isn't really about a rock band playing a concert but about an entire generation trying to make its mark.
“It just kind of came to me that we were all part of this scenario where we’re all young, and full of enthusiasm, we think we can change the world, and we get out there…we will rock you! 'We Will Rock You' means we will change the world, and we feel like we can do it when we’re young."
In the second part of the episode (available as of today, June 4), May explores the song's iconic guitar solo. He also addressed the doubts in the band that "We Will Rock You" was truly going to work the way he envisioned.
May was bullish on the song — as any member of Queen had to be when presenting a song — but even he couldn't have dreamt up the unprecedented and singular legacy of "We Will Rock You."
“The thing I suppose I am most proud of is the fact the song has become part of public life, so when everyone goes thump, thump, clap, in any form whatsoever, that’s what it is. The greatest compliment is when people think nobody wrote it, they just think it has always been there. So 'We Will Rock You' has become like...something which is traditional and goes back to the Stone Age. And that makes me happy."