The original alchemy of Queen went both ways. Brian May and Roger Taylor helped the shy former Farrokh Bulsara transform into Freddie Mercury, while Mercury helped them better grasp the idea of showmanship.
It all came together in moments like the thrashy “Stone Cold Crazy” from Queen’s third album, 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack. Mercury’s idea would instantly become something more, once he started workshopping it with his Queen bandmates.
“Freddie had this great idea called ‘Stone Cold Crazy,'” May tells Alfie Boe, “and it was all about — um, I don’t know what the hell it’s about! [Laughs.] It was one of Freddie’s frenetic ideas! But it wasn’t a frenetic song [at first]. So, when we got together, I said it would be really funny if we did it more frenetically — like the way you normally are.”
May then promptly came up with the song’s metallically chugging riff. “He liked that,” May adds, “and so the song instantly became ticky-ticky-ticky. That was really something that gelled very quickly.”
“Stone Cold Crazy” was never released as a single, but ultimately became a concert staple — both during Mercury’s era and the one that’s followed. Adam Lambert, the Idol finalist, has been fronting Queen off and on since 2009, performing “Stone Cold Crazy” more than 20 times. Mercury passed in 1991 from complications related to the AIDS virus.