Queen logo
Queen logo 1973
by Freddy Mercury
--- "Smile" (1968)
--- "Queen" (1970)

First song: "Keep Yourself Alive"

Genre: Hard Rock

--- Freddie Mercury - lead and backing vocals
--- Brian May - guitars, backing vocals
--- John Deacon - bass guitar
--- Roger Taylor - drums, tambourine, backing vocals

Brian May
Brian Harold May
Hampton, July 19, 1947,
founder member
of the rock group Queen,
guitarist and songwriter
Writer: Brian May

--- Recorded: December 1971
--- Producer: Louie Austin
--- Studio: De Lane Lea Studios, 75 Dean Street, Soho, London, England, UK
--- Format: The only known original source is Brian May's own 12" acetate.
--- Lenght: 3:51

--- Released: July 6, 1973 (UK) - October 9, 1973 (USA)
--- Producers: Queen, Roy Thomas Baker, John Anthony
--- Studio: Trident Studios, 17 St. Anne's Court, Soho, London, England, UK
--- Labels: EMI (UK) - Elektra (USA)
--- Format: Vinyl, 7", 45 rpm, A-side. On B-side: "Son And Daughter"
--- Lenght: 3:47 (UK) - 3:29 (US edit)

Overview: In 1968, guitarist Brian May, a student at London's Imperial College, and bassist Tim Staffell decided to form a band. May placed an advertisement on the college notice board for a drummer; Roger Taylor, a young dental student, auditioned and got the job. The group called themselves "Smile". While attending Ealing Art College, Tim Staffell became friends with Farrokh Bulsara, a fellow student who had assumed the English name of Freddie. Bulsara felt that he and the band had the same tastes and soon became a keen fan of Smile. In late 1970, after Staffell left to join the band Humpy Bong, the remaining Smile members, encouraged by Bulsara, changed their name to "Queen" and continued working together. The band had a number of bass players, until February 1971 that they settled on John Deacon. Around this time Freddie changed his surname to "Mercury". On July 2, 1971, Queen played their first show in the classic line-up of Mercury, May, Deacon and Taylor at a Surrey college outside London.
"Keep Yourself Alive" is the first of five demos recorded by the band in December 1971 at the new De Lane Lea Studios, London, England. The sessions are arranged through contacts at the studio who agree to let the band record in exchange for the band testing the equipment and facilities for engineers. Tracks worked on are: "Keep Yourself Alive", "The Night Comes Down", "Great King Rat", "Jesus", "Liar". The De Lane Lea Demo of "Keep Yourself Alive" begins with the needle hitting the acetate; giving it an authentic and special feel. The intro is played on Brian May's Hairfred acoustic guitar, before the Red Special takes over. The fade-out ending is similar to the album version.

Quote (Brian May): «The first recording of "Keep Yourself Alive" ever was in De Lane Lea when we did it ourselves and I've still got that recording and I think it’s very good and has something which the single never had. But they pressurised us very strongly to redo all the tracks and we redid "Keep Yourself Alive" with Roy and it was pretty awful, actually. I thought it was terrible and I was very unhappy about it and I thought the De Lane Lea one was better and I eventually managed to persuade Roy that it was better as well. So, we went back in and did it again in a way that was a bit more true to the original. But there is no way that you can ever really repeat something. I have this great belief that the magic of the moment can never be recaptured and, although we ended up with something that was technically in the playing and perhaps even in the recording a bit better than the De Lane Lea thing. I still think that the De Lane Lea one had that certain sort of magic, so I was never really happy. As it turned out no one else was ever really happy either and we kept remixing it. We thought that it's the mix that's wrong, we kept remixing and there must have been, at least, seven or eight different mixes by different groups of people. Eventually we went in and did a mix with Mike Stone, our engineer, and that's the one that we were in the end happiest with. That’s the one we put out».

Property: EMI Records Ltd. - Elektra Records

Official website: http://www.queenonline.com

Flyer: Queen concert 1971
Flyer: before recording the demo, Queen performs "Keep Yourself Alive" on January 9, 1971 at Ewell Technical College, Ewell, Surrey, England, supporting Kevin Ayers And The Whole World. Bass player at this time: Barry Mitchell.

"Keep Yourself Alive" original audio (De Lane Lea Demo Version, Dec. 1971)

I was told a million times of all the people in my way
And how I have to keep on trying just get better every day
But if I crossed a million rivers, and I rode a million miles
Then I'd still be where I started, bread and butter for a smile
Well, I sold a million mirrors in a shop in alley way
But I never saw my face in any window any day
Now they say your folks are telling you to be a superstar
But I tell you just be satisfied and stay right where you are

Keep yourself alive, yeah, keep yourself alive
All you people keep yourself alive

Well I loved a million women in a belladonic haze
And I ate a million dinners brought to me on silver trays
Give me everything I need to feed my body and my soul
And I'll grow a little bigger, then that can be my goal
I was told a million times of all the troubles in my way
How I had to keep on trying and get better every day
But if I crossed a million rivers, and I rode a million miles
Then I'd still be where I started, same as when I'd started

Keep yourself alive, yeah, keep yourself alive
Take you all your time and money
Honey you'll survive



Keep yourself alive, keep yourself alive, oh
Take you all your time and money
To keep me satisfied

Do you think you're better every day
No, I just think I'm two steps nearer to my grave, yeah

Keep yourself alive, come on, keep yourself alive
All you people keep yourself alive
Keep yourself alive, yes you've gotta keep yourself alive
All you pretty people keep yourself alive
Keep yourself alive, ooh, keep yourself alive
All you people keep yourself alive
Keep yourself alive, yes, yes, yes
Keep yourself alive
All you people keep yourself alive
"Keep Yourself Alive" lyrics (De Lane Lea Demo Version, Dec. 1971)

First Queen single 1973
"Keep Yourself Alive" release version on single vinyl A-side (EMI, July 6, 1973). On B-side the song "Son And Daughter".

"Keep Yourself Alive" official video

Queen in 1973
Queen in 1973. From left: Roger Taylor, Freddy Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon.