Queen axeman reveals ambition to join Angus Young’s band – and admits horror when Flash Gordon producer hated theme music
Brian May would love to have been a member of AC/DC if Queen hadn’t taken off, he’s admitted.
And the guitarist has shared his moment of horror when the producer of Flash Gordon rejected the band’s anthemic movie music.
Asked what he’d liked to have done if the Freddie Mercury-fronted project had failed, May tells the Independent: “I’d have probably liked to be in AC/DC. It’s different from Queen. Queen were very eclectic – we just trampled over every boundary that there was.
“But AC/DC are in a sense the opposite. They know their style and it’s incredibly pure, and I have great respect for that. Every single note they play is AC/DC completely.”
He reflects: “I’m the wrong sort of size and shape, unfortunately,” but adds he’s not concerned if others disagree with his choice: “If I feel excited by it I don’t really care what anybody else thinks. And in fact I kind of enjoy that feeling of discomfort.”
May has been acclaimed for his movie soundtracks, especially his work on 1980 blockbuster Flash Gordon. But he says producer Dino Di Laurentiis didn’t want to use the Queen music that’s become as iconic as the film.
“We were engaged to do the job by Mike Hodges, the director, and Dino,” the guitarist recalls. “The combination of him and Mike was very odd, because for Dino it was a very serious film engaging the top-level talent in Italy, and to Mike it was a spoof.
“We saw some of the rushes and we loved it. We all went away and made some demos separately – Roger, John, Freddie and me. We played them back to Mike and Dino and asked, ‘What do you think?’
“There was this horrible moment. Mike jumped up and down saying, ‘It’s brilliant, it’s brilliant,’ and Dino sat there with a face white as a sheet, and obviously didn’t enjoy it.
“When it came to the theme I had written, you know, ‘Flash’, Dino said: ‘It’s very good, but it is not for my movie.’
“We all got a bit glum and went away. But what I think happened was, Mike went to Dino and said: ‘You’ve got to have faith here. Brian has captured the essence of the movie in this piece of music.’ To his credit, Dino did come around and was very supportive.
“It was a big adventure – I don’t think there had ever been a feature film with background music done by a rock band. It was a real dangerous departure.”