Brace yourselves, music fans, this is big news: Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury have three duets coming out this fall.
The songs were recorded at Jackson’s home studio in Encino, California, in 1983, when both singers were at the height of fame. Queen had released their album Hot Space in 1982 and Jackson was still riding high on the wave of Thriller, also released the previous year.
The three tracks that the duo wrote and demoed were meant to be included on a full album of duets between the King of Pop and the Queen frontman. Unfortunately, the album was never finished due to the constraints of the two pop megastars schedules. Plus, the relationship between the two may have soured when (brace yourselves again) Michael Jackson insisted on bringing a llama into the recording studio.
Unsurprisingly, Mercury was nonplussed by this behavior. According to an interview conducted with the Times of London, Queen’s former manager, Jim “Miami” Beach claims that Mercury called him and said, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.” Jackson was also reportedly less than thrilled with Mercury’s behavior during the recording session. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Mercury subsequently fell out with Jackson because the U.S. star objected to Mercury taking too much cocaine in his living room.”
At the time, it was reported that the duo had recorded three tracks named “State Of Shock,” “Victory,” and “There Must Be More To Life Than This,” but the two stars were unable (or perhaps unwilling ) to secure time to record more tracks and finish the planned album. The three tracks eventually surfaced in other forms, but the demos that Jackson and Mercury made were never completed.
“They were great songs, but the problem was time — as we were both very busy at that period,” Mercury recalled of the 1983 session. “We never seemed to be in the same country long enough to actually finish anything completely. Michael even called me to ask if I could complete ["State of Shock"], but I couldn’t because I had commitments with Queen. Mick Jagger took over instead. It was a shame, but ultimately, a song is a song. As long as the friendship is there, that’s what matters.” It wasn’t until 2011, after both artists had passed away, that Jackson’s estate cleared the tracks for release.
Now, Mercury’s former Queen bandmates drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May are in the studio with producer William Orbit, adding what the Daily Mail refers to as “new guitar solos from [Brian] May along with Queen-style vocal harmonies” to the tracks. May told the Times that there will be, “something for folks to hear” in two months time.