Sir Brian May has been very open about Queen’s biggest influences over the years. Alongside The Beatles, contemporaries Led Zeppelin and their sound was something that Freddie Mercury and the band were striving for themselves.
Speaking with Total Guitar, Sir Brian said: “Those guys were not far ahead of us in age, but the first time we heard Zeppelin, we thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is where we’re trying to get to, and they’re already there!’ So in a sense, there were times when we felt like we’d missed the boat. Like we wouldn’t be able to get our stuff out there. But our vision was slightly different from Zeppelin, musically.”
Sir Brian continued: “It’s more harmonic and melodic, I suppose. But I would never be ashamed to say that Zeppelin were a huge influence on us, not just musically, but also in the way they handled themselves in the business, without compromising. The way they handled their image, the integrity, the way they built their stage show – so many things. I suppose between Zeppelin and The Beatles and The Who, you would see where we came from. That was the kind of platform that we bounced off.”
The Queen guitarist went on to reveal which song from his band’s back catalogue was directly inspired by “the spirit of Led Zeppelin”.
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Sir Brian confessed that it’s not a coincidence that there are some similarities between Queen’s Now I’m Here from their 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack and Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog.
The 75-year-old said: “I owe a lot to Jimmy Page, of course – the master of the riff, and the master of getting lost deliberately in time signatures. I think that song was inspired, definitely, by the spirit of Zeppelin. All those wonderful things that are happening when Bonzo [Zeppelin drummer John Bonham] is throwing in things which sound like they’re in a different time signature – that stuff has always fascinated me.”
Total Guitar’s full Brian May interview is out now in this month’s magazine issue.