Continuing its current look at the contributions made by the band’s component members, this week’s Queen ‘The Greatest’ episode celebrates another vital element of any Queen song or performance: The Drum Sound. You can watch it below.
The initial foundation of the unique Queen sound can be traced back to the days of Smile, where Roger Taylor and Brian May first played together.
Brian May: “I remember [Roger] bringing his kit in very carefully, and he set it all up on its stands. And then he started to do something very curious. He was like making little tapping noises and turning knobs, and I went ‘what are you doing?’
“He said, ‘I’m tuning the drums’, and I went, ‘Oh, really? You tune drums?’ because the drummers that I’d worked with up to that time just basically put the drums down and hit them. But Roger was going on and tuning every little part of each skin so that it would resonate in the right way. So I was kind of impressed.”
Roger’s distinctive drumming and his drum sound has always been an integral part of the Queen recording process, whether it be providing a subtle yet solid rhythm, or taking centre stage in songs such as his swaggering rock anthem “I’m In Love With My Car.”
And subsequently in the live shows, crowds would be whipped into a frenzy by his extraordinary pace, energy and precision.
As is the hallmark of Queen, the drumming contribution evolved over the years, often in unique and surprising ways. But one thing has remained constant – that’s Roger’s belief that any drum solo should be used sparingly and never outstay its welcome…
Roger Taylor: “Drums solos were a cliché. In the early seventies they were a cliché, so, and it was just something that one did, you know? And I never really honestly enjoyed actual solos, I always really preferred playing as part of the ensemble, part of the band and part of the song, really.
“And whereas it’s all very nice, they’re just showing off, really, aren’t they, you know, and especially when you’re playing to a lot of people in big concerts, you know, if I did a solo and I would suddenly look down and notice people going out for a hot dog, I’d never want to do it again because you knew that you were boring people.”
But there’s been no danger of that, whether it be on the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour with his rendition of “Let There Be Drums”. Or now, in a much anticipated element of the Queen + Adam Lambert shows – the drum battle, with Roger here seen taking on his drummer son, Rufus Taylor.