‘Mr. Bad Guy’: Why Freddie Mercury’s Solo Album Was ‘A Shot In The Arm’

Taking a step away from his work with Queen, Freddie Mercury’s solo album, ‘Mr Bad Guy,’ found him exploring new avenues in his music.

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Freddie Mercury Mr Bad Guy album cover 820
Cover: Courtesy of Hollywood Records

“I had a lot of ideas bursting to get out and there were a lot of musical territories I wanted to explore which I really couldn’t do within Queen,” said Freddie Mercury, explaining his decision to release his solo studio album, Mr. Bad Guy, in 1985.

Listen to Mr. Bad Guy on Apple Music and Spotify.

“He was an incredible musician”

The album was a labor of love. Work on Mr. Bad Guy began in 1983 and it took the perfectionist Mercury nearly two years to complete. He wrote all 11 songs on the album, sang the vocals, played piano and synthesizer, arranged the orchestration, and worked painstakingly with the sound engineers to obtain the sound he wanted during the recording sessions at Musicland in Munich. He also co-produced the album with Reinhold Mack.

It opens with the simple dance song “Let’s Turn It On,” which precedes the four-minute song “Made In Heaven,” the original choice of title for the album before Mercury settled on Mr. Bad Guy. “I Was Born To Love You,” the third track, was released as the first single and reached No.11 in the UK.

Freddie Mercury - I Was Born To Love You (Official Video Remastered)

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Mercury said he had to show “a certain amount of discipline” and resist the urge to ask Queen colleagues to play on the album, in order to prove he was genuinely “stepping away” from the band. Instead, he picked a variety of talented local Munich session musicians to play alongside him. Drummer Curt Cress, guitarist Paul Vincent Gunia, and bass player Stefan Wissnet were joined by Canadian-born rhythm guitarist and synthesizer player Fred Mandel. “Off-stage, Freddie was a pretty quiet guy, but he was an incredible musician,” said Mandel.

The track “Man Made Paradise” had originally been considered for the 1981 Queen album Hot Space, and the version for Mercury’s solo album features some Brian May-like guitar work from Vincent, along with some fretless bass from guest musician Jo Burt.

“Freddie was very happy with the album”

One of the key songs on Mr. Bad Guy is “There Must Be More To Life Than This,” which Mercury said was the nearest thing he ever wrote to a message song. “It is a song about people who are lonely,” explained Mercury. “It’s basically another love song, but it’s hard to call it that because it encompasses other things, too. It’s all to do with why people get themselves into so many problems. It’s mostly that, but I don’t want to dwell on that too much. It’s just one of those songs that I had for a while.”

The title song, “Mr. Bad Guy,” has proved one of the album’s most enduring tracks; in 2019, artist Jack Coulter created a painting inspired by Mercury’s song for Bohemian Rhapsody: The Queen Exhibition in Seoul. “Freddie was very happy with the album,” said Reinhold Mack. “I think one of the things he wanted to do most was the big orchestral thing on the track ‘Mr. Bad Guy,’ which he never really got to do with Queen.”

“It was a very personal thing”

Mr. Bad Guy as a whole features an interesting blend of musical styles: rock, disco, dance, pop, and a splash of reggae. Mercury, who said he was smoking a lot to keep his voice husky, sings the 11 songs with real verve.

The singer also said he was pleased with the moving ballads he had written – some of them “frivolous and tongue-in-cheek,” he admitted – and he picked out “Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow,” written at the time of an affair with Austrian actress Barbara Valentin, as one of his favorite tracks from his solo work.

Freddie Mercury - Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow (Official Video)

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“I liked the way ‘Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow’ came out,” said Mercury. “It was a very personal thing. I wrote it in five minutes and everything just gelled into place. It was just very emotional, very strong. I love that track.”

It is clear that Mercury put his heart and soul into the project, and Mr. Bad Guy reflects the diversity of his personality. His liner notes dedicate the album to his cat Jerry and all the cat-lovers across the universe (“screw everybody else”). Freddie added special thanks to his Queen bandmates, Brian, Roger, and John, “for not interfering.”

Mercury believed that his solo album, which was released on April 29 and went gold, would provide a “shot in the arm” for his return to working with Queen. So it proved. Less than three months after the album’s release, Queen took Wembley – and the world – by storm with their superlative Live Aid performance.

The career-spanning Freddie Mercury box set, Never Boring, is out now.



  1. Deborah Decker

    June 20, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    For anyone who has never listened to Mr Bad Guy you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s great and proves that he ,Freddie Mercury put the heart in the group Queen. He was a musical genius and there will never be another.

  2. Juliedith López

    November 9, 2020 at 12:47 am

    Realmente, como fiel y leal seguidora de FREDDIE MERCURY con QUEEN, desde 1974 hasta 1991, Freddie grabando solo este disco “Made in Heaven” , hizo exactamente eso: Hecho en el cielo. Todos los temas de este álbum son extraordinarios, tanto en su temática como en su interpretación. Volcó todas sus energías, creatividad y sensibilidad en cada uno de las once canciones, nacidas desde el fondo de su alma. Esto era habitual en él para Queen, mas esta vez era para su propia satisfacciòn y lo mejor es que se sintiò libre y espontàneo para crear, sin presiones de ninguna especie. Quienes no han escuchado este álbum, se darán cuenta cómo se siente estea música y el mensaje de cada una de ellas. ¡Gracias, Freddie, por dejarnos lo mejor de tí, por siempre! Felicitaciones a “discovermusic” por este artículo tan detallado. Saludos cordiales a todos y cada uno de ustedes. Desde Chile, Coquimbo, a 08 de noviembre de 2020 a solo 16 días para cumplir 29 años desde el fallecimiento de nuestro FREDDIE MERCURY!.

  3. Sara

    April 29, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    Guess “all the cat lovers across the universe” includes me! *lol*

  4. Nik watt

    March 21, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    Yes deborah you’re right; i was lucky to get an original 1985 vinyl album + bear in mind i heard this after hearing the ‘freddie mercury album’ of 1992/3? + ‘living on my own’ aside i found the vinyl songs better than the remixed versions in the later album – but production elements aside this is a great tribute to freddie!

  5. Lori Becker

    April 29, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    There was no affair between Freddie and Barbara Valentin. It never fails to amaze me how willing people are to believe outright lies. Just because lies are all over the internet does not make them true. People who actually knew Freddie say that there was nothing romantic between Freddie and Barbara. Barbara was known to lie and exaggerate about her involvement with Freddie. Sure there are pictures of Freddie and Barbara- that proves absolutely nothing. Freddie and Barbara met at a Munich gay nightclub for God sakes. She was constantly looking for attention and she knew she would get it hanging around with Freddie. At that time gay men were never to be seen to be gay. The best way to be seen not to be seen as gay was to be seen with women. The fact that Martin just repeats these lies calls into question any research he does and should cause anyone with any commonsense to question all the work he has ever done. He is lazy and incompetent. This also should raise concerns about all the writing on this website. I’m sorry that I have wasted so much time looking at this website. So disappointed. I really expect so much more. Who ever runs this website should really look into the sources their writers use. Incompentence all around.

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