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Although Queen is considered one of the greatest rock bands of all time, they still struggled in the beginning just like any other band.
On July 6th, 1973 Queen released Keep Yourself Alive, the band’s very first single, about a week before their self-titled debut album would hit the shelves. The song might be a classic nowadays, but at the time of its release it failed to reach the charts both in the U.K. and in the U.S.
Queen originally recorded the song in 1971 at De Lane Lea Studios in London before John Deacon joined the band as their bassist. Guitarist Brian May was especially proud of this demo version, which featured an acoustic intro by him. However, when they tried to record it again for the studio album, they felt the magic couldn’t never be recreated.
May once spoke with BBC Radio in 1983 about the retake:
“…I was very unhappy about it and I thought the De Lane Lea one was better, and I eventually managed to persuade [producer Roy Thomas Baker] that it was better as well. So, we went back in and did it again in a way that was a bit more true to the original. But there is no way that you can ever really repeat something. … I still think that the De Lane Lea one had that certain sort of magic, so I was never really happy.”
Check out the 1971 demo of Keep Yourself Alive here: