How did this performance come about? Apparently MJ was a fan of Queen; he was the one to suggest they release “Another One Bites the Dust” as a single. From an April 1996 interview with Queen’s bassist, John Deacon:
“I listened to a lot of soul music when I was in school,” John recalls, “and I’ve always been interested in that sort of music. I’d been wanting to do a track like Another One Bites The Dust for a while, but originally all I had was the line and the bass riff. Gradually I filled it in and the band added ideas. I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did. The song got picked up off our album and some of the black radio stations in the US started playing it, which we’ve never had before.” In the end it was a famous fan who swayed the vote: Michael Jackson actually suggested we release it as a single. He was a fan of ours and used to come to our shows.”
Another story about the duo, from Vanity Fair:
In 1983, Mercury and Michael Jackson, hot off the release of Thriller, were plotting to record an album of duets. It was a perfect idea, this potential union of Queen and the nascent King of Pop. Three tracks had already been written and demoed, but the studio sessions ultimately faltered. Why? Because Jackson brought his llama to the studio. Mercury was apparently not into it!
According to Mercury’s former manager, Jim Beach, the rocker called him and asked, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.”
However, Jackson had his complaints, too. The pop star wasn’t fond of the singer’s alleged cocaine habit and they eventually had a falling out over Mercury’s use of the drug in Jackson’s living room.
The singer’s apparent drug use has since become part of his lore. Elton John, who’s spoken candidly about his own drug use and addiction, once said this of the singer: “Freddie Mercury could out-party me, which is saying something. We’d be up for nights, sitting there at 11 in the morning, still flying high.”
On the face, I admire Michael’s use of llama as an eccentric trick to deal with Freddie’s cocaine-in-the-studio problem. But they still had a falling out, so maybe the lesson is to deal with differences head on and early.