Queen Engineer Calls ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Live Aid Scene A Miracle
Queen sound engineer Justin Shirley-Smith said the recreation of the band’s Live Aid appearance for the Oscar-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was a “miracle” brought about by a radio producer’s refusal to follow instructions during the 1985 event.
The climactic scene was made to be as faithful as possible to the original, and is likely to have contributed to the movie’s Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing Academy Awards.
“It would be inappropriate to go into too much detail about how we go about revealing the maximum power and beauty in these live recordings,” Shirley-Smith told Audio Media International in a new interview. “But it was policy from day one that the Live Aid performance should have the absolute least amount of enhancement. The very fact that we have a multi-track recording of Live Aid at all is a miracle in itself because, as I understand it, Jeff Griffin [the BBC Radio producer at the event] was instructed by Bob Geldof – in no uncertain terms – not to roll multi-track tape. Happily for us, Jeff felt that he couldn’t not record it!”
Bohemian Rhapsody music co-producer Kris Fredriksson revealed that Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor had been “quite hands-on” to the extent of being “involved in editing the music to fit on to the end credits.” He explained that the idea of recording a Queen-style version of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare to open the movie had been May’s.
“Brian blasted out about 66 or so guitar takes and Roger added his percussion in a short space of time, so we ended up with a piece of music that gives the flavor of things like ‘God Save The Queen,’ ‘The Wedding March’ and ‘Procession’ from previous Queen albums,” Fredriksson said. “It really added a nice dimension to kick off the soundtrack album, as well as the film itself.”