Elvis ‘was one of Freddie Mercury’s great heroes’ – Brian May on King’s influence on Queen

Queen perform ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ in 1986

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If you look back at the great rock bands of the sixties and seventies, no doubt most – if not all – will tell you that they were influenced by Elvis Presley. The King rose to fame in 1956, with many future music stars growing up listening to him – from The Beatles to Queen. Now, in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Brian May has shared how Elvis was one of Freddie Mercury’s heroes and the influence the American star had on Queen.

Brian told us: “I think it’s impossible to have been a kid at that time and not been influenced by Elvis.

“Freddie in particular though, of course. He was one of Freddie’s great heroes.”

Queen fans will know that in 1980 Freddie composed Crazy Little Thing Called Love in tribute to Elvis after his death three years later.

While at some point around the late seventies, The King’s daughter Lisa Marie attended a Queen concert in California with her mother Priscilla Presley.

There, Lisa, who praised the band and its singer, gave Freddie a scarf once owned by her father.

On Elvis’ impact on himself, Brian said: “For me, his guitarists were a great inspiration. Scotty Moore was one, James Burton the other.

“I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with both of them and James has become a great friend, which makes me very happy indeed. So yeah, Elvis was definitely an influence.”

The 73-year-old didn’t hold back when it came to sharing just what it was about the American singer that made him The King of Rock and Roll.

Brian said: “And looking back, you know how you sometimes reevaluate when you listen to the old records? You think, ‘What was it that I saw in those things?’

“When you listen to an Elvis record you realise he probably done it in one or two takes. There’s no auto-tuning, there’s no jiggery-pokery. He was damn good.

“He was accurate, passionate, had fantastic range, fantastic tone; he deserved everything he got. He was the pinnacle at the time, I would say, of what a singer could be – no doubt about it. And he had a great team around him.”

After we pointed out the similarity in the theatrical nature of both Elvis and Freddie’s stage presence, the Queen guitarist admitted this was “an intriguing area.”

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Brian shared: “I’ve thought about it a lot because Elvis comes from the South of America but is dressed up like a dandy.

“He’s wearing makeup, he’s got his hair all done good. And he’s dancing and swinging his butt.

“That’s not your stereotype American at the time. It took a lot of courage to be that person; it’s part of his whole thing.”

The 73-year-old is a great believer that performing with your entire body is so important beyond just a singing voice or musical instrument.

Brian added: “I have this great belief that singing or playing is not just about the mechanics…it’s a whole body, mind and spirit thing.”

The Queen legend admitted this is why he’s never really taken to the TV show The Voice.

He explained: “I don’t think you can assess people purely on the waves that come out of their throat. There’s more to it than that. There’s a kind of whole-body commitment, experience and a conviction that takes place on so many levels.

“Yes you can cram some of it onto a gramophone record, but that’s not all there is. There’s a spirit there that gets across to you in every way and I think Elvis had that. It was very physical. That’s very important. It’s vital.”

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