14 January 1991 – Innuendo / Bijou single released in the UK and impressively made its debut at #1 !!
It was the band’s first number one hit in UK since “Under Pressure” in 1981, and additionally reached the top ten in ten other countries.
The amazing masterpiece, ‘Innuendo’ was composed by Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor but Queen would receive writing credit as a whole band.
They decided to share authorship as a whole band as Roger Taylor explained to Rockline in 1991, “Well, we started that on the last album, ‘The Miracle’ from 1989. We found that it was just the best decision that we ever made. It removes all the ego things that get in the way of making decisions on merit, and people aren’t worrying about, “hey this is my song, it’s better than your song,” and whatever the single is, it’s contributed to everybody. Everybody contributes to each song. So, it’s really worked out well for us.”
‘Innuendo’ is an astounding six-and-a-half-minutes long and kicks off Queen’s fourth coming fourteenth album of the same name, which — with its bolero intro, flamenco breakdown and operatic hard-rock outro — was immediately tagged as “Bohemian Rhapsody II.” But clearly the song was its own beast, inspired by Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” (a medley of the two songs was performed by Plant and the surviving members of Queen in 1992 at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium). It is also the only studio cut of the group’s to feature another guitarist: Steve Howe of Yes joined May in the song’s meticulously designed middle section.
“They played it and I was fucking blown away,” Howe told the British music magazine Prog in its March 2012 issue. “They all chimed in: ‘We want some crazy Spanish guitar flying around over the top. Improvise!’ I started noodling around on the guitar, and it was pretty tough. After a couple of hours, I thought: ‘I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here.’ I had to learn a bit of the structure, work out [what] the chordal roots were, where you had to fall if you did a mad run in the distance; you have to know where you’re going. But it got towards evening, and we’d doodled and I’d noodled, and it turned out to be really good fun. We have this beautiful dinner, we go back to the studio and have a listen. And they go: ‘That’s great. That’s what we wanted.’”
“We’ve always been stronger together,” Roger Taylor stated in that promo video. “I feel very lucky that we’ve had those fantastic times. [Freddie] was just a tower of energy, really. Working with him, he always gets the best out of you and drives you, and inspires those around.”
Impressively, this epic six and a half minute song outdid ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on time by 35 seconds and is their longest ever released as a single.
The B-Side is ‘Bijou,’ a clever song, devised by Brian May and Freddie Mercury that has the guitar doing the verses and the vocals becoming the chorus. Freddie sang the first line and then Brian transferred the melody from his vocals to his Red Special. It’s a beauty! May later said that Jeff Beck’s 1989 song, ‘Where Were You’, was part of the inspiration behind it. This was only a Mercury/May contribution, as the result of a one-hour session between the two of them. Freddie wrote the orchestral parts on keyboards.
Here’s the video clip for ‘Innuendo’