Three previously unheard duets recorded by the late, great pop/rock icons, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury at Jackson’s home studio in Encino California will finally see their official release in a few months’ time.
Mercury was said to have approached Jackson, already a huge Queen fan, about the possibility of working together on Jackson’s next album in 1983. Jackson, who was no stranger to collaboration projects with other major artists, saw previous hits such as “State of Shock” with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, reach Number 3 in the US Billboard Charts and Number 14 in the UK Singles Charts, also crossing genres whilst bringing together new audiences. Other famed duets from Jackson include collaborations with greats such as Slash from Guns N Roses, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney. Even Mercury experienced a worldwide success for his duet Barcelona, with the legendary Montserrat Caballe, the track eventually being selected as the theme for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
However, the initial 6-hour recording session in Jackson’s home studio with Mercury, in which the three tracks were created, apparently did not go as smoothly as one might have hoped. Queen manager, Jim “Miami” Beach, recalls that the pair had a falling out, after Jackson decided he wanted to have his llama with him in the studio during recording. According to Beach, Mercury had telephoned him saying, “Miami, dear, can you get over here? You’ve go to get me out of here. I’m recording with a llama.” Since their differences, however, they never seemed to be able to agree to another session. But the Jackson family are disputing the reasons for the fall out, citing their fall out as due to failing to arrange further recording sessions.
In 2011, Brian May confirmed that the Jackson family estate had given permission for him to remaster the three tracks. Finally, after a three-decade wait, May blogged about this process, in which May, fellow Queen band mate, Roger Taylor and multi-Grammy Award winning pop producer William Orbit were working on the trio of duets, saying, “As for unreleased material with Freddie singing, strangely enough I was working on some tapes this evening, with William Orbit. There are a few items in progress.” He also promised fans of “something for folks to hear in a couple of months’ time, hopefully”. May went on to describe the entire process as “exciting, challenging, emotionally taxing. But cool”.
Although the pop and rock legends are no longer with us, their legacies still appear to live on, breathing new life into their music catalogues, as well as generating a fresh buzz with all their fans, old and new.
Written By: Brucella Newman