It might not be the most romantic film you could possibly imagine, but Wayne’s World was released in the US on Valentine’s Day, 1992. The film wasn’t just a major box office smash, it is also credited with reviving Queen’s career in the US. After the band found themselves in the wilderness following prudish backward US TV and audience reactions to their cross-dressing hilarity in the I Want TO Break Free Video, it took a spoof film about stereotypical straight male slackers to restore them to chart success across the Atlantic. Freddie never lived to see it happen, but Brian insists that he immediately knew what the film would do for their music when he saw a secret preview.
It was all thanks to Wayne’s World star Mike Myers who fought the studio’s wishes for a Guns ‘n Roses song in the headbanging car scene. But first, he had to get Queen’s permission.
Brian recalled: “I didn’t know Mike Myers but he rang me up out of the blue and said, ‘We’ve done this amazing sequence in our new film – can we have your approval?’ ”
The guitarist said he was expressly given a clip of the scene to show to his dying friend: “I took it around to Freddie, who was not in a good state at that time. He was..confined to his bed, but I took it round and played it to him and he loved it. Strangely enough, the humor in it was quite close to our own. Because we did that kind of thing in the car, bouncing up and down to our own tracks!”
In another live streamed interview about the making of the film, Wayne’s World Reunited Apart, Brian expanded on how it happened and Freddie’s extraordinary response to the stunned filmmakers and cast, including Mike Myers.
He said: “I think, you, Mike, did get me the tape and I took it round to Freddie not long before he went and showed it to him. You know, you said you wanted to have the approval.
“He loved it. He laughed and laughed. He was very weak, but he just smiled and laughed and said, ‘Yeah, how wonderful is that?’”
Brian says he is sure that Freddie didn’t just enjoy the humour and the tribute, he also knew it was a kind of rebirth for the band in America.
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Brian added: “He (Freddie) had been known to say, ‘Look, you know, I suppose I have to die before we get America back.’
“But you guys did it. You got us back to a new American public. And Freddie was very aware of that. You guys should know that. He went to the next place knowing what had happened and enjoying it…
“One, we found it hilarious and two, we found it rewarding. We released an album and that sketch, I think, was responsible for the album being such a big hit. I have to say we loved the movie, as well.”
Brian also spoke about the band’s own reactions to their most famous song: “It is a masterful piece of work but with Freddie’s stuff and with Queen’s stuff there was always a bit of tongue in cheek, you know, and I think you guys latched into that.
“I remember us, when the track came on the radio… and the middle bit came on, we are doing this anyway.” Brian mimes banging his head exactly the like the characters in the film. “It’s human instinct.”
It’s wonderful to think of the pleasure it would have brought Freddie, although the film’s own director, Penelope Spheeris, disputes whether this actually happened.
Freddie died on November 24, 1991, three months before the film was released. However, the film was shot during 1991, so it is possible that rough cuts of the headbanging scene could have been somehow transferred onto a VHS tape and shown to the ailing star.