Death on Two Legs
|"Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)"|
|Song by Queen from the album A Night at the Opera|
|Released||21 November 1975|
Sarm East Studios
|Genre||Hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock|
|Label||EMI, Parlophone (Europe)
Elektra, Hollywood (US)
Roy Thomas Baker
|A Night at the Opera track listing|
"Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" is a song by British rock group Queen, and is the opening track on their fourth studio album A Night at the Opera. The song was written by Freddie Mercury and allegedly describes his hatred toward Queen's ex-manager, Norman Sheffield, who is reputed to have mistreated the band and abused his managerial role from 1972 to 1975.
The song was recorded and mixed at Sarm East Studios in late 1975. As with "Bohemian Rhapsody", most of the guitar parts on the song were initially played on piano by Mercury, to demonstrate to Brian May how they needed to be played on guitar.
The song is considered to be Mercury's "hate letter" towards the band's former manager, incorporating a vast range of vicious lyrics, and described by Mercury as being, "so vindictive that Brian felt bad singing it." However, in his autobiography published in 2013, "Life on Two Legs: Set The Record Straight", Norman Sheffield denied such rumours and referred to copies of the original 1972 Queen management contracts between Sheffield and Queen included in the book as proof to back up his defence. Though the song never made a direct reference to him, upon listening to a playback of the song at Trident Studios during the time of album release, Sheffield was appalled and sued the band and the record label for defamation which resulted in an out of court settlement, and this later revealed to the public his connection to the song.
Although the song never made a direct reference to Sheffield, upon listening to it he attempted to sue the band for defamation, thereby revealing to the public the subject of the song. Before releasing the album, EMI, the publishers, paid a "substantial sum" to Sheffield in an out-of-court settlement. During live performances, Mercury would usually dedicate the song to "a real motherfucker of a gentleman". This line was censored (via bleeps) on their Live Killers album in 1979.
"Death on Two Legs" was regularly performed live by Queen up until, and during, The Game Tour. However, there is only one live version of the song ever officially released, appearing on the 1979 album Live Killers. The piano introduction though was played through the Hot Space and The Works tours.
- Rooney covered "Death on Two Legs" on the 2005 tribute album Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen.
- The song was covered by Tony Zaikowski as part of the "Loser's Lounge" project.
- GoGoGo Airheart also recorded a version of the song.
- Dream Theater recorded their version to this song for their CD Uncovered 2003-2005, released by their own label as part of their "Official Bootleg" collection.
- Heathen covered this song on their 2004 EP Recovered.
- The Protomen covered this song in their 2012 album The Protomen Present: A Night of Queen.
- Freddie Mercury - lead and backing vocals, piano
- Brian May - guitars, backing vocals
- John Deacon - bass guitar, double bass
- Roger Taylor - drums, backing vocals