Recently, while speaking with Total Guitar, Brian May opened up on how he owns Jimmy Page a lot.
Queen, an iconic British rock band, was formed in London in 1970 and led by legendary guitarist Brian May. They are known for their high-energy live performances and iconic songs such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
In a recent interview with Total Guitar, Brian recalled the very first time he and Queen listened to Led Zeppelin. This was the turning point for the band as they couldn’t comprehend how good they were.
Rock music enthusiasts have been debating the rivalry between Led Zeppelin and Queen for many years. At the time, Led Zeppelin was usually regarded as the more well-known and influential band, whilst Queen was frequently viewed as the underdog. Nonetheless, Queen has been a strong challenger in recent years and has received accolades for their impact on the rock music landscape thanks to their distinctive sound and creative use of harmonies and synthesizers.
According to Queen themselves, they have never denied Zeppelin’s influence on their sound. May claims that in addition to being influenced by Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury also tried to emulate the rock legend in order to mask his reserved nature. Plant, on the other hand, thought Freddie was a superior performer and singer. Brian May also stated that when he and his bandmates first listened to Led Zeppelin, they believed their own music and success to be similar, albeit more harmonic and melodic.
While talking about the song ‘Now I’m Here’, Brian said,
“I owe a lot to Jimmy Page, of course – the master of the riff and the master of getting lost deliberately in time signatures. I think that song was inspired, definitely, by the spirit of Zeppelin. All those wonderful things happening when Bonzo is throwing in things that sound like they’re in a different time signature – that stuff has always fascinated me.
Those guys were not far ahead of us in age, but the first time we heard Zeppelin, we thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is where we’re trying to get to, and they’re already there!’ So in a sense, there were times when we felt like we’d missed the boat – like we wouldn’t be able to get our stuff out there. But our vision was slightly different from Zeppelin, musically. It’s more harmonic and melodic, I suppose.”
He added, “I would never be ashamed to say that Zeppelin were a huge influence on us, not just musically, but also in the way they handled themselves in the business, without compromising. The way they handled their image, the integrity, the way they built their stage show – so many things. I suppose between Zeppelin and the Beatles and the Who, you would see where we came from. That was the kind of platform that we bounced off.”
It is impossible to choose one band to be the winner in the Queen vs. Led Zeppelin rivalry because both bands had a significant impact on the rock music landscape at the time. Both of their individual styles have had a significant impact on contemporary music, and future generations will continue to value what they contributed. Brian May isn’t afraid to acknowledge that Led Zeppelin had a big impact on the sound and stage presence of Queen. He personally owes Jimmy Page a lot.