Rick Rubin: My Life in 21 Songs

From LL Cool J to Kanye West, Slayer to Tom Petty, Johnny Cash to Dixie Chicks, producer reflects on more than three decades of challenging music's status quo

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Queen, "We Will Rock You (Ruined by Rick Rubin)" (1991)

Queen had got their masters back from the record company. They weren't available for a little while, so they wanted to re-release them, and they wanted to do remixes to go on each of the albums. They reached out to different people that they thought could do something interesting.

I remember thinking, "Wow." "We Will Rock You" is, like, this is a perfect record. I always had a weird feeling about remixes. We put so much time and effort into making the record that a remix seemed to be tainting what was good about the record. That was my thought then.

I loved Queen, so when they asked me, I thought, "Well, there's no way I could make it better than theirs. It's perfect as it is." So the idea was to go the other way, and not try to make it great, but try to make it ridiculous and try to ruin it. On the real record, it breaks into a jam at the end and it seems so surreal. So because they'd sent all the multi-tracks, at the end of the remix, I played the solo from "Tie Your Mother Down" backwards.

The credit that I took on it was "Ruined by Rick Rubin," for that reason. I was thinking, "What are the more surreal, bizarre choices I could make to play up the point that we're not supposed to be remixing classic songs?" The message of it was, "Don't do this."

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