“I do enjoy the studio, yes,” Freddie told Sounds in 1976. “It’s the most strenuous part of my career. It’s so exhausting, mentally and physically. It drains you dry. I sometimes ask myself why I do it. After Sheer Heart Attack we were insane and said never again. And then look what happens! I think that is the basis of Queen actually. We were very, very meticulous. That has now become an obsession in a funny way, for want of a better word. It’s subconscious now, but we feel that we have to better that past standard we’ve created. Otherwise they’ll say, ‘God, look at what they did on Sheer Heart Attack and look at what they’re churning out now.’ And you have to supersede it for your own satisfaction.”
The album was born out of difficult situations, as most classics are: the band were hard up, despite their successes (“people thought we were driving around in limos,” Brian lamented in the late 1970s), and at the mercy of their managers, Barry and Norman Sheffield.
With the worldwide success of ‘Killer Queen’, the band felt they weren’t being paid enough. When they first signed with Trident in 1972, they had each been given £20 a week, even though the Sheffields had originally insisted on only £15. It had increased a bit to £60 weekly by the time Sheer Heart Attack was released, but the band still wanted more of what they felt was rightfully theirs. The matter reached a head when John demanded a cash advance of £4000 so that he and his pregnant wife Veronica (whom he had married in January 1975) could put a down-payment on a house. When he was coldly refused, the band started legal proceedings to sever all ties with Sheffield and Trident.
The first step was to abandon all recording at Trident. They also hired a lawyer, Jim Beach, in December 1974, who initiated negotiations with Trident in an attempt to void Queen’s contractual obligations. Finally, after nearly nine months of lengthy parleys and arguments, deals were signed to free them from Trident absolutely. The band gained control of their back catalog and their former publishing company. The two drawbacks were that Queen had to pay £100,000 to buy out their contracts and give Trident one per cent of their royalties on the next six albums; unfortunately, these included A Night At The Opera through The Game, certainly the band’s most successful run.
Queen Complete Works