Queen spend two days filming a video for “It’s A Hard Life.

These days, June 1984, Queen spend two days filming a video for “It’s A Hard Life.

The video was filmed @ The Arnold & Richter studio Studios in Munich over the course of two days by acclaimed music video director, Tim Pope. This video was very expensive. It had an enormous set, large number of extras and Brian’s special made skull and bones guitar (with a price tag of more than £1000)

Here is Brian May’s thoughts on the beautiful song and outrageous video. I find it fitting to share his feelings…

“Here we are making a music video clip, otherwise known as a ‘promo video,’ this time created for the song “It’s A Hard Life.” We filmed this one in Munich. Now, “It’s a hard life” is one of my favourite Freddie songs ever, and we did actually collaborate on some of the lyrics. Unusually, we delved into individual words and phrases with slight variations in great depth. We were looking for the core meaning of the song and were conscious of the fact that it didn’t matter what kind of sexuality or love we were talking about; it was about feelings of abandonment and loneliness, and what love actually meant.

So I remember the genesis of the song as a precious moment in the studio, and I do think the track had a wonderful, transparent yet warm sound, and some of Freddie’s most genuinely emotive singing. This wasn’t just a song plucked out of the air for the sake of writing; this was something that gave voice to Freddie’s intense emotional pain at the time. I certainly related to it because I was going through something very similar, and I think the whole band – each one of the four of us – related in some way to what the song was about.

Now having said this, here we appear to be making a video that has nothing to do with any profound inner meaning of the song! In our band, it was traditional that the writer of the song had the choice of how the video for it was put together, and in this case it was Freddie who was the writer. So he developed this idea with a director called Tim Pope, famous for his song ‘I Want to be a Tree’. The two of them came up with this idea that was a kind of extravagant, opulent scene of debauchery through which Freddie wanders, singing ‘It’s A Hard Life’. It’s an elaborate irony, and at the time we (the other three) didn’t really get it. Or maybe we got it but we didn’t like it. I think it’s fair to say we did it against our will, dressing up in all this baroque clothing. It looks a little bit like Venice at Carnival time – the costumes have a lot to do with that theme.

Having said all this, I actually think the video does work quite well if you understand what you are looking at. It was an indulgence that Freddie definitely enjoyed living out – I’m sure he found some solace in the role play of having a broken heart yet appearing to be saturated in every kind of pleasure. So, these days? I don’t think it was a wasted exercise any more.

We all spent these two days doing things that we felt were slightly ridiculous, feeling like we were somewhat marginalised. Now that part of it is common, because in making videos you normally spend ninety per cent of the time hanging around, waiting for lights to be adjusted, sets to be moved, and you do start feeling like an extra in your own movie. But during this shoot in particular we felt alienated, particularly Roger who, I think, came close to walking out. John and Roger spent their time discussing how bored they were which I think was classic.

I at least had a bit of a favoured position in the movie because I had a role to play, which is basically the Grim Reaper, with a skull guitar that I designed myself. Some talented folks at Shepperton Studios, prop makers, made it for me. Ok – it’s a fashion accessory, but it also actually works, kind of. It does have strings that you can pluck. I did a drawing and they turned it into this rather lovely unique piece.

I remember being under the lights on ‘Hard Life’ shoot for long periods and then we had breaks when we would have sandwiches and sit outside in the summer sunshine in Munich, our dangerous home from home. And a lot of our Munich friends turned up to chat, including the man who was busy breaking Freddie’s heart at the time, and including the lady who was busy breaking my heart at the time, and there was a strange atmosphere. I remember this whole undercurrent. Life? Art? On the one hand we were rock stars making a fabulous, opulent video, but at the other level we were a bunch of people who were wrestling with our own emotional blackness. But maybe that’s what music is about, maybe that’s what being a poet, or a songwriter, or an artist of any kind is about: because music is the language of the soul and the language of the heart. You can say things in music that you can’t say in any other way. That’s the way I see it anyway.

Freddie is, of course, wearing the famous ‘Mediterranean Prawn’ costume, as Roger so colourfully christened it, with his fabulous wig. It’s true to say we made a fair deal of mockery of him for wearing this, but Freddie took it well, just like he always did. He had an endearing ‘Screw you guys – this is my party’ kind of attitude to the whole thing.”

No one can express their sentiments more beautiful than Brian. But of course, we can’t forget Roger’s feelings, he made it clear, he loved the track but felt “Stupid in his costume”

Brian May – Queen in 3D

Let’s enjoy the video 👇

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