Killer Queen

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This article is about the song. For other uses, see Killer Queen (disambiguation).
"Killer Queen"
Single by Queen
from the album Sheer Heart Attack
A-side "Flick of the Wrist"
Released 21 October 1974
Format Vinyl (7")
Recorded 1974, Trident Studios
Genre Glam rock
Length 3:00
Label EMI (UK), Elektra (US)
Writer(s) Freddie Mercury
Producer(s) Roy Thomas Baker, Queen
Queen singles chronology
"Seven Seas of Rhye"
"Killer Queen" /
"Flick of the Wrist"
"Now I'm Here"

"Killer Queen" is a song by the British rock band Queen. Written by pianist and lead singer Freddie Mercury, it was featured on their 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack, and also appears on the band's compilation album, Greatest Hits.[1] When released as a single, "Killer Queen" was Queen's breakthrough hit, reaching number two in the United Kingdom and number 12 in the United States.[2][3] It was released as a double A-side in the UK, the US and Canada (where it reached number 15 in the RPM 100 national singles chart),[4] with the song "Flick of the Wrist". In 1986, it was featured as the B-side to "Who Wants to Live Forever".[5] The song marked a departure from the heavier material of the band's first two albums, as well as the beginning of a more stylistically diverse approach in songwriting. At the same time, "Killer Queen" retained the essence of Queen's trademark sound, particularly in its meticulous vocal harmonies. According to Q Magazine, Killer Queen's guitar solo is the 2nd best in all time.

Mercury commented that he wrote the lyrics before the melody and music, whereas he would typically do the opposite. The recording features elaborate four-part harmonies (particularly in the choruses, and also providing backing parts in the verses), and also a multitracked guitar solo by Brian May which makes use of the "bell effect". The song's first verse quotes a phrase widely attributed (falsely) to Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake," she says, Just like Marie Antoinette.

Recording sessions[edit]

Besides using his grand piano as usual, Mercury overdubbed the song with an upright (credited as "jangle piano"), to give the track a vaudeville sound. At one point there are two distinct bass guitar lines, one of which diverges into a descending run. Unlike the first two Queen albums, this song was partly recorded outside England, at Rockfield Studios in Wales.[6]

Queen on the record[edit]

Freddie Mercury:[7]

Brian May:

Live performances[edit]

The song was played from 1974–78 live as part of a medley.[8][9][10][11] In 1974, the song was played following "In the Lap of the Gods",[8] and in 1975–76, the song was played after "Bohemian Rhapsody".[9] In 1977, the song was played as the introduction to a medley, followed by "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy",[11] and in 1978, preceded "Bicycle Race".[12] In 1979, the band played most of the song, and after the guitar solo ended, the opening bars of "I'm in Love with My Car" were played.[13] The song was played at the Montreal Forum, Quebec, Canada in November 1981, and is recorded in the live album, Queen Rock Montreal.[14] In 1984 and 1985, during The Works Tour, it was reintroduced in a medley following a truncated version of "Somebody to Love".[15]

In 2015 it was played as a medley with Bohemian Rhapsody on Queen & Adam Lambert Rock Big Ben Live by Queen + Adam Lambert with the song replacing Bohemian Rhapsody's opera central section.

Chart performance[edit]

Sales and Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Silver 250,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


On some performances Deacon provided backing vocals and played the triangle.

Rock Band Music Gaming Platform[edit]

The song was made available to download on December 7, 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music gaming platform in both Basic rhythm, and notably PRO mode which allows use of a real guitar / bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards in addition to up to three-part harmony or backup vocals.[30][31]


  1. ^ Queen: Greatest Hits Allmusic. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  4. ^ Top Singles - Volume 23, No. 14, 31 May 1975 Library and Archives Canada
  5. ^ Who Wants To Live Forever Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 4 September 2011
  6. ^ Mark Hodkinson Queen: The Early Years Omnibus Press 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  7. ^ NME, 2 November 1975 (Queen Archives)
  8. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: Sheer Heart Attack: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: A Night At The Opera: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Queen live on tour: Day At The Races (world): Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: News Of The World: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Queen live on tour: Jazz Queen Concerts. Retrieved 30 August 2011
  13. ^ Queen Rock Montreal Killer Queen Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  14. ^ Queen Rock Montreal Allmusic. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  15. ^ Queen live on tour: The Works 1984 Queen Concerts. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  16. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  18. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  20. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group - "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  21. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Killer Queen by Queen Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  23. ^ Queen. "Queen - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "British single certifications – Killer Queen". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Killer Queen in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  30. ^ Cortez, Hector (2010-12-04). "More Queen Tracks Coming To Rock Band 3". m&c. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  31. ^ Snider, Mike (2010-06-10). "Rock Band 3: What's New, What's Notable". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 

External links[edit]