Guitar Tricks Insider May / June Issue | Page 27

COVER STORY COVER STORY There’s nothing cluttered about “Killer Queen.” There’s a fantastic amount going on there, but nothing ever gets in the way of anything else.” ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ [from 1978’s Jazz]. In the studio I thought it was IT, in capital letters. But by the time we got it out onto a record and I heard it on the radio I thought, ‘No, it’s not really there.’” That being said, May is able to recognize when he’s done top-shelf work, such as the guitar lines he conjured for “Killer Queen,” Queen’s first truly international hit single from 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack. In this case, May’s continuously harmonic riffage expertly supports the song’s minimalist story of a high-class call girl as chronicled by the late legendary Queen vocalist/lyricist Freddie Mercury. “I totally agree with what Nuno Bettencourt has said about what you leave out is important. And Freddie was an expert at doing that,” May explains. “There’s nothing cluttered about ‘Killer Queen.’ There’s a fantastic amount going on there, but nothing ever gets in the way of anything else.” May concedes that the feel of his MAY / JUNE multi-tracked, bell-effect solo was exactly what “Killer Queen” needed to put it over the top. “I was pleased that the solo went along with it,” he agrees. “Everything is crystal clear. And when the three voices of guitars are all doing little tunes of their own, it feels almost accidental that they go together. I was very pleased with how it came out.” While “Killer Queen” ultimately reached #2 on the British singles charts and broke the band in America, some level of doubt crept into May’s mind about whether it was the right move for Queen at a time when the band was still establishing its sonic identity. “I had reservations about the song being a single at first. I was always worried about it. Everybody thought it was the most commercial song but I was worried that people would put us in a category where they thought we were doing something ‘light.’ Sheer Heart Attack was, in my mind, quite heavy and DIGITAL EDITION GUITAR TRICKS INSIDER 27