Queen 50th Anniversary countdown starts today with new video about ‘misunderstood’ track

Queen The Greatest: Trailer for brand new series

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Queen’s extraordinary success has now spanned seven decades. The current line-up with Adam Lambert is in the middle of a major Rhapsody World Tour (paused due to the pandemic) but the band is going back to where is all began on the brand new video, The Story Begins: Keep Yourself Alive. SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THE FIRST QUEEN 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION VIDEO

The classic crowd-pleaser was on the first demo tape that the band produced. Originally written in the earliest days, before John had even joined the line-up, it went on to be the opening track on their debut, self-titled album. 

Keep Yourself Alive was released as their debut single on July 6, 1973, in the UK and October 9 in the US.

This was the heady time of the band’s fabulous draped white tunics and the track gives every aspect of their alchemic magic a chance to shine, from Roger’s thunderous drumming to Brian and John’s guitar riffs, with Freddie leading the fabulous vocals and harmonies – when he wasn’t telling the audience to ‘take all your clothes off.”

Keep Yourself Alive was a constant and popular feature on Queen’s live setlists from the very start, featuring in every show until the early 1980s.

The track was composed by Brian.  who admitted later that it taught him a very valuable lesson.

He said: “I wasn’t sure if I was a songwriter, really, I just had this idea…

“Strangely enough, the lyrics of Keep Yourself Alive are meant be a comment… they’re meant to be slightly ironical. 

“But I learned very early on through this song that it’s very difficult to be ironical on a song because people take it at face value.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/avI0iq-fRHQ

Brian added: “Basically, everyone always did think that Keep Yourself Alive was a jolly song about how great it is to be alive, but it’s actually more about asking a person, ‘Is there more to life than this?’”

Freddie also commented over the years, about the dilemma of explaining (or not) the meaning behind lyrics, most notably, of course, on Bohemian Rhapsody.

Naturally, he put teh idea across in his own rather more ‘colourful’ and outrageous way.

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Freddie famously said: “People say, ‘What does that lyric mean? Does it mean this? Does it mean that?’ 

“It is all anybody wants to know. F*** them, darlings! I will say no more than what any decent poet would tell you if you dared ask him to analyse his work.”

One thing the band was always very clear about was their sense of self and their determination not to compromise any artistic vision – and it began with Keep Yourself Alive.

Queen established their ownership of their music from the very start when they rejected the record company’s first video for Keep Yourself Alive.

It was filmed on a bright white background in white costumes and the band felt it did not reflect the song or their identity.

This was a bold move from four (at the time) unknown artists but Queen, as always, carried the day.

In the end, much more atmospheric footage was shot and used. 

Keep Yourself Alive remains the only Queen single not have charted in the UK, but it holds a special place in the band’s legacy as the moment where the magic began.

Every Friday for the next 50 weeks, a new video short will look at some of the most important moments in Queen’s history.

‘Queen: The Greatest’ 50th Anniversary videos will be posted on the Queen’s official Youtube page

For information about the Queen + Adam Lambert Rhapsody World Tour and more go to Queen’s official website

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