Brian May admitted he’s never liked “Under Pressure,” Queen’s 1981 collaboration with David Bowie, but he didn't say anything at the time because he knew it would lead to a fight.

The guitarist has previously discussed the track, telling UCR about the battle of wills between the musicians and outlining some tension between Bowie and Queen bassist John Deacon. “I remember David reaching over to John and saying, ‘No, don’t do it like that,’” May said, and John going, ‘Excuse me? I’m the bass player, right? This is how I do it!’”

He’d added: “But somebody has to take the helm. Somebody has to decide what you actually use…that person was David, because he just went, ‘I’m doing it, I’m doing it,’ being David Bowie. And we went, ‘Ooh, okay…’”

In a new interview with Guitar World, May went into more detail on how “Under Pressure” had changed. “[I]t was a pretty heavy backing track… it sounded like the Who. It sounded massively chord-driven.”

He continued: “And I was beaming… I remember saying to David, ‘Oh, it sounds like the Who, doesn’t it?’ He says, ‘Yeah, well it’s not going to sound like the Who by the time I’ve finished with it!’ You know, in a joking kind of way. But he didn’t want it to be that way.”

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May decided not to keep pushing. “I think it’s probably the only time in my career I bowed out, because I knew it was going to be a fight,” he said. “So basically it was Freddie and David fighting it out in the studio with the mix. And what happened in the mix was that most of that heavy guitar was lost.”

Brian May Prefers Modern Live Version of ‘Under Pressure’

He continued: “I never liked it, to be honest, the way it was mixed. But I do recognize that it works. It’s a point of view, and it’s done very well. And people love it.”

He confirmed that when he plays “Under Pressure” these days, it’s delivered in a style that’s “quite a bit different” from the released version. “[I]t is a lot heavier and I think it benefits from it,” he said.

“David was an awesome creative force. But you can’t have too many awesome creative forces in the same room. It starts to get very difficult! Something has to give.”

Queen / David Bowie, "Under Pressure"

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This sounds familiar.

Gallery Credit: Chad Childers

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