Brian May Says Freddie Mercury Wrote One Of Queen’s Heavy Riffs, Not Him

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In a recent revelation during an exclusive interview with Total Guitar, the legendary Brian May of Queen peeled back the curtain on the band’s intricate songwriting process, shedding light on the unexpected origins of one of their most iconic compositions.

Delving into the enigmatic depths of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” May unveiled a startling truth: it was the visionary Freddie Mercury who birthed the thunderous finale that has since become etched into the annals of musical history. Despite Mercury’s towering reputation as a maestro of the ivories, his prowess extended far beyond the confines of the piano keys, as May elucidated:

“Freddie was quite the riffmeister, you know! That spine-tingling riff in ‘Ogre Battle’ [found on 1974’s ‘Queen II’], many attribute it to me, but it sprang forth from Freddie’s fertile imagination. He possessed an innate understanding of the ‘heavy’ side of music, fueled by his reverence for the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Contrary to popular belief, he was not confined to the realm of lighter melodies; he had a voracious appetite for the heavier fare as well.”

In a previous discourse with Guitar World in 2019, May delved deeper into Mercury’s unorthodox approach to the guitar, remarking:

“He had an uncanny knack for the guitar, employing an unconventional technique — solely downstrokes. The iconic riff in ‘Ogre Battle’? That was Freddie’s brainchild. While I may have initially strummed it with a mixture of up-and-downstrokes, he was steadfast in his commitment to downstrokes. The velocity of his right hand was simply staggering! His frenetic energy on the guitar translated seamlessly into that song.”

Echoing May’s sentiments, Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe echoed the sentiment, citing “Ogre Battle” as a seminal moment in his musical odyssey. Sixx lauded Mercury’s virtuosity on the guitar, acknowledging the song’s intricate complexities and the formidable challenge of replicating its thunderous riff. He recounted:

“When my comrades and I first encountered the debut Queen album, we were spellbound by its melodic ingenuity and harmonic wizardry. However, when the needle descended upon ‘Ogre Battle,’ it was a revelation! The fusion of blistering rock riffs and ethereal melodies was unprecedented. Brian once divulged to me that Freddie was the mastermind behind that iconic guitar riff, a fact that had eluded me until then. It’s a devilishly tricky riff to master! Delving into Queen’s catalog is akin to embarking on a masterclass in the art of songcraft.”

“Ogre Battle,” a ferocious anthem from Queen’s repertoire, encapsulates the band’s penchant for pushing sonic boundaries. With its thunderous guitar riff and relentless drumming, the track exudes a visceral energy, amplified by Mercury’s primal screams and Roger Taylor’s soaring harmonies. A sonic battleground depicting a clash of mythical proportions, “Ogre Battle” stands as a testament to Queen’s indomitable spirit and unwavering musical innovation.

You can listen to the song “Ogre Battle” below.

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