Over two decades on from its release and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! remains a cult classic. The 1900 set romantic musical is chock-full of anachronistic pop classics including Queen’s The Show Must Go On, the final track on 1991’s Innuendo album, which was the last record the band released in Freddie Mercury’s lifetime. The song ended up capturing the late singer’s determination to perform during his final years as he battled HIV/AIDS, which eventually took his life in 1991 at the age of just 45.
Queen guitarist Brian May penned the tenacious lyrics and remembered how during the recording he wasn’t sure if Freddie could handle the highest notes in his condition.
Nevertheless, the determined singer said, “I’ll f***ing do it darling!”, downed two shots of his favourite vodka and absolutely smashed the track.
A decade later and The Show Must Go On was performed in Moulin Rouge! by Zidler and Satine, as they realised that the musical Spectacular Spectacular must still open despite the tragedy around them.
Express.co.uk recently caught up with Brian to ask how the iconic Queen track’s inclusion in the movie came about, only to be surprised by his answer.
Brian shared: “Y’know what, nobody asked me or us. I’m probably going to upset people saying this but I really hated it. I wished they’d asked me because I thought they killed it. They completely rearranged it and got rid of one of the most important parts, which is ‘the wings of butterflies’ part. I was horrified. I was so upset when I saw that film and realised that they’d just taken it and moulded it into something different. So yeah, that’s all I can say really. I wish they’d asked and I wish they’d allowed us to participate.”
Asked how they were able to go ahead with including The Show Must Go On without his direct permission, Brian said: “I don’t know. It might have been something that slipped by. Maybe they talked to our management and it just got green-lighted, I don’t know. I just remember going to see it in the cinema and I had all the wrong things going up and down my spine.”
Tragically, the Queen singer never did get to perform the Inneundo song live, but the track that embodied his spirit made its stage debut at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in April 1992, just a few months after his death.
Elton John sang the lead vocals, while Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi was on guitar.
Since then, Queen and Adam Lambert have been performing The Show Must Go On in their concerts to this day and the song even features on the band’s first live album, Live Around The World.
During our interview, Brian also spoke of how he’s been considering ideas for a Bohemian Rhapsody sequel focused on the final years of Freddie’s life.
We asked the Queen legend: “What else could it be called but The Show Must Go On?” And he replied: “Ahhh…it’s a distinct possibility, isn’t it? I can’t say it’s a bad idea…”