Queen Would've Broken Up If 'A Night at the Opera' Flopped

By Emily Lee

April 19, 2021

Queen's 1975 album A Night at the Opera is one of the most highly regarded albums of all time. Ahead of its release, the band was under a ton of pressure to make sure their fourth LP was a commercial hit. According to guitarist Brian May, if the album flopped the group would've been forced to split up.

“We were not only poor, but we were in debt,” May said in the most recent episode of Queen: The Greatest. “All the sound and lighting companies and the people that we worked with hadn’t been paid. So we were at a really crucial point. We might have had to break up if that album hadn’t done well.”

Drummer Roger Taylor echoed May's sentiments, adding how he remembers "when we went into the studio to make A Night at the Opera, it felt like make or break.”

The album, of course, went on to sell more than 6 million copies globally. The album also included a number of the band's biggest hits, including 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'You're My Best Friend.' Many believe the record's success stemmed from the numerous risks the band took while making it, such as reportedly being the most expensive album ever made at the time, as well as the creative and technical risks.

"Enormous complexity on there,” May said “Even looking at it now, I wonder how we did some of that stuff.”

Queen: The Greatest was announced last month. The remaining members of the band described the video series as “a chance to revisit some of the most iconic moments and discover some aspects of the story you might not know." During the series, they "explore the stories behind the songs, hits and album tracks, drawn from the extensive footage that exists in the official archive, while also uncovering and sharing rare and previously unseen gems.”

Photo: Getty

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