13 December 1990 – Hibbert Ralph Animation Ltd produced a version of “Innuendo” music video.
After the phenomenal success of The Miracle, and indeed the 1980s in general, Queen were soon recording the follow-up. What emerged in February 1991 was to become the last completed Queen studio album in Freddie’s lifetime – ‘Innuendo.’ The first single lifted from this stunning return to form was the epic title track, a song which was six and a half minutes in length but had hit written all over it.
Unusually for Queen, the video had minimum input from the band – much of the ideas coming from director’s Jerry Hibbert and Rudi Dolezal. The piece required no actual work on the part of the band, relying instead of award winning animation. There were two main sections to the video – the first was a doll’s house style theatre complete with grotesque yet imaginative characters was made from clay models and was brought to life via stop motion animation. The second part was the more difficult to create, as each member of the band became a living characature in the style of famous artists. To this end, live action stock footage was used as a template, in effect placing an oddly realistic yet heavilly stylised version of Queen directly in the centre of the action.
The two styles of animation, including a masterful stop motion vaudeville inspired jester dance sequence during the flamenco guitar solo, were combined with archive footage of war and celebration, in much the same vein as the earlier Under Pressure video, plus animated recreations of Granville’s drawings which had inspired the album and single sleeve design for the era. The result was breathtaking – a true masterpiece once again from a band that seemingly knew no limitations.
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Combining with the buzz around Queen’s return, the video helped Innuendo crash straight into the UK singles charts at number one, Queen’s first UK chart topper in ten years after several very near misses. Despite Queen’s new American record company, Hollywood Records, electing not to release the single in the USA due to the sheer length of the piece, the promo would go on to win a Gold Camera award at the prestigious American Film and Video Festival, and make its home video debut on the Greatest Flix II compilation in 1991.
After seeing how well-received ‘Innuendo’ album was in its first two weeks out, Mercury pressed the band to strike while the iron was hot and work on new material.
“Freddie at the time said, ‘Write me stuff, I know I don’t have very long,’” Brian May proclaimed in Days of Our Lives. It was important for Freddie to keep working, he told the band to finish off the music he was recording. May also said, “Freddie just said, ‘I want to go on working, business as usual, until I fucking drop. That’s what I want. And I’d like you to support me, and I don’t want any discussion about this’.”
“The sicker he got, the more he seemed he needed to record. To give himself something to do, some reason to get up, so he would come in whenever he could. So really, it was quite a period of fairly intense work. We’ve always been stronger together, 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.” – Roger Taylor
‘Innuendo’ lead single from Queen’s fourteen studio album of the same name, made its debut straight at #1. (Their first UK #1 since ‘Under Pressure’ ) The brilliant masterpiece also reached the top ten in ten other countries.
The video won production company DoRo (who also produced the videos to all other singles from the Innuendo album) a Monitor Award for Best Achievement in Music Video.
Here’s the video clip