Roger Taylor Quotes
One Christmas, when Freddie and I were flatmates in Kensington, we were trying to cook Christmas dinner but all we had was a packet of bread sauce that you make with water. We used to dream of a can of beans. (…) At Ridge Farm, when we weren’t working we would swim, play bad tennis, bad snooker and be beaten at table tennis by Freddie. I think he had been the champion at his boarding school and I never, ever saw him lose a game. That summer was more like a youth club rather than wild parties. In the evenings we would go down to the pub, come back to the barn and play more music.
Impossible to believe that dear Freddie has been gone for 10 years now. The immediate pain has obviously retreated but I can honestly say that not a day goes by when I do not think about him and miss his presence. He filled a very large part of my life – the life of the others in the band – but most especially the millions of people he never met! As I look back, I think the one thing that tends to be unsaid – aside from the obvious traits of fun, utrageousness, generosity of spirit, vocal ability etc – is the sheer brilliance of his musicianship. Leagues ahead baby. Fred – we love you – we miss you old friend!
I picked up a guitar and found it very difficult and I sort of graduated to drums because I found them very easy – I suppose it was a case of natural aptitude. Mitch Mitchell was my role model at the time, and I still think listening to Mitch Mitchell, especially the early stuff with Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix), is just fantastic.
The greatest Rock’n’Roll drummer of all time was John Bonham who did things that nobody had ever even thought possible before with the drum kit. And also the greatest sound out of his drums – they sounded enormous, and just one bass drum. So fast on it that he did more with one bass drum than most people could do with three, if they could manage them. And he had technique to burn and fantastic power and tremendous feel for rock’n’roll. “When the levee breaks” is the archetypal heavy drum sound – it’s never been bettered – it’s like a steamroller, enormous bass drum. Simple but takes feel.
His (Freddie Mercury) words got better quickly. There were some very overt lyrics. Don’t Stop Me Now is a good example. He was having a good time, and that was very much a cri de coeur. Some lyrics we wrote together like I’m Going Slightly Mad, which was funny. We had fun coming up with daft things, all those ridiculous phrases. I’d say it was Freddie’s actual musicality which was the cleverest thing of all, the notes, and his harmonic structure was quite brilliant. When he wrote The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, on the second album, he was crossing sections of six-part harmonies, and I thought: Bloody hell, that is tricky stuff. Then there’s The March Of The Black Queen, which is almost like prog-rock, and so outrageously complicated that I can’t even remember the arrangement myself. When you write songs that complex, you have to work hard at it, and it did invoke a lot of head-scratching. But then he’d come up with Killer Queen or, later on, lots of simple things like Crazy Little Thing. He had it on all sides. Freddie evolved. I always called him the man who invented himself’. I think the talent was innate, but he dug deep inside himself and forced it out. His determination was quite something.
[On drum machines] Fantastic to write with. They have their place, they’re terribly useful to the musician, but they’re just another tool. They never will replace a good drummer. A lot of the bands that use them, I call them typewriter bands because basically they program the sample sounds with no real dynamics, and that dynamics is very important. And the records come out sounding very flat and very 2-dimensional whereas something with real dynamics and a good drummer can add another dimension – depth – to the band and that’s why bands that play together when they’re actually making the record will always sound better.
The first time I saw Led Zeppelin, Bonzo (John Bonham) just walked on the stage and just warmed up for about 10 seconds. Freddie (Freddie Mercury) and I nearly fell over we just couldn’t believe the power and the sound. People are still today trying to imitate Led Zeppelin, America is full of drummers trying to play like John Bonham.