When Queen came up with their affectionate nod to the rock ‘n’ roll sound of the 1950s, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love,’ they knew they were in with a strong shot at a second UK No. 1 to follow 1975’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ It nearly happened, but not quite.
The single spent two weeks at No. 2 in November 1979, held off the top by Dr. Hook’s pop confection ‘When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman.’ But on 22 December, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100, on its way to becoming their first American No. 1.
Written solely by Freddie Mercury, the song became one of Queen’s biggest international singles to that point. It was the highest of no fewer than 15 new entries on the American chart in that week before Christmas, at No. 58. By the second half of February, 'Love' was starting a five-week run at the top of that survey, and did even better in Australia, with a seven-week reign in March and April and platinum certification. The single was certified gold in both the US and UK, as well as in Holland.
“I wrote the song languishing in my bath at the Munich Hilton,” Mercury said in the Billboard Book of Number One Hits, by Fred Bronson. Freddie reportedly got out of the tub to go to his guitar and piano to lay down the melody. “We arranged [it] at band rehearsals the following day with me trying to play rhythm guitar. Everyone loved it, so we recorded it. The finished version sounded like the bathroom version.It’s not typical of my work, but that’s because nothing is typical of my work.”
Mercury also revealed in that volume that Queen’s American label, Elektra, were less than enthused about releasing ‘Crazy Little Thing’ as a single, but their hand was forced when radio DJs started playing the import. It proved to be a wise decision.
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