Anyone that goes to see the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody won’t emerge from the theater knowing much about drummer Roger Taylor. He is seen hitting the impossibly high “Galileo” notes when they record “Bohemian Rhapsody” and freaking out when Freddie leaves the band for a solo career. (The latter didn’t actually quite happen, but that’s beside the point.) What they won’t learn is that Taylor was a great songwriter in his own right. He wrote “Radio Ga Ga,” “Sheer Heart Attack,” “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll” and many others.
The sole song the film ties to him is 1975’s “I’m In Love With My Car,” which is only brought up as a punchline and a tune that’s the complete opposite of the brilliant and complex “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The guys in the movie band brutally tease him for it across several years and the only person that seems to enjoy it is the fictional record executive played by Mike Myers. It’s a shame since it’s actually a stellar song. It was also a key part of their live show for years. Here’s video of them doing it at a Montreal show in 1981.
Queen stopped playing in the U.S. after one more tour the following year. In the movie, they pin the decision to the puritanical reaction to their video for “I Want to Break Free” where they all wear drag, but in reality they simply stopped being a major draw on the American concert circuit. Hot Space and The Works were commercial disappointments and they sold more tickets in Europe, South America, Australia and Asia. (They also made a rather unfortunate decision to play Sun City in apartheid-era South Africa, but that’s a whole other story.)
This 1981 Montreal performance of “I’m in Love With My Car” is actually the last time they played it while Freddie was still alive. But they do it most every night when they play with Adam Lambert these days and it always kills. It may not their most sophisticated song, but does “We Will Rock You” have a complex message? Does it matter?
(Also, as long as we’re talking about “We Will Rock You,” the movie seems to have moved the creation of it from 1977 to sometime around 1981. They also performed “Fat Bottom Girls” several years before they wrote it. In hindsight, we should have put those two things in our article that fact-checked the movie.)