Roger Taylor (Queen)…Fighting From The Inside
“…God have mercy on the man that thinks”Roger Taylor
“A Human Body” – B-side of “Play the Game” (1980)
Roger Meddows Taylor (born 26 July 1949), known as Roger Taylor, is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
He is best known as the drummer, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist of British rock band Queen.
As a drummer he is known for his “big” unique sound and is considered one of the most influential rock drummers of the 1970s and ’80s.
As a songwriter, Taylor contributed songs to the band’s albums from the very beginning, composing at least one track on every album, and (in the early days) usually sang lead vocals on his own compositions.
Many of these feature Taylor on vocals. His voice was very recognisable, for both its high range (he would often reach an E5 in full voice during live performances) and raspiness. His extremely high falsetto, sometimes going above an A5, was characteristic of Queen’s vocal harmonies, and was often thought to be a woman’s voice, or a synthesiser effect (most notably his screams on “In the Lap of the Gods”, written by Mercury). His vocal range spans four octaves (E2-E6).
“Father to Son” – Queen II (1974) (This contains his highest range ever recorded, from G4 to A5).
He also wrote four of the band’s hits, “Radio Ga Ga”, “A Kind of Magic”, “The Invisible Man”, and “These Are the Days of Our Lives”. He plays multiple instruments, including guitar, bass and keyboards, as heard on his debut solo album in which he played all instruments and sang all vocals
Interviewer: Onstage or even more so on the record, to me the Queen sound has always been distinctive for the harmonies. Would you agree though that they’re more effective because you have a hard, steady rhythm section underneath it? Do you think it would be as successful if there wasn’t you and John playing?
Roger: Hopefully, I think harmonies can be dangerous. They can get you into a rather middle of the road type feel and we try to avoid that. We try to be fairly extreme with the harmonies and not make them too easy, you know, and not too bland and smooth and err-were lucky with the combination of voices. I think because -er-the three of us that sing do most of the singing have very different voices, but they tend to blend quite well because of the differences. I’ve got a lot of edge in my voice and a lot of…quite a lot of roughness and can go high. Brian has a good soft, round voice and Freddie has a very powerful voice with a good range at both ends. I’m not so good in the low range, he’s very good, he’s also good in the high range. And, I think I don’t know, I mean we use harmonies in very different ways for instance on You Take My Breath Away and that’s mostly Freddie and thats the beginning and the end of that are real harmony showpieces without any rhythm section at all. But then say Tie Your Mother Down or something really hard like Liar or something like that were using very hard blasting harmonies really, in a sort of old English rock and roll sense, with a rhythm section.
Interviewer: That’s really weird cause the engineer I work with when we tape the show, the first time he heard Somebody To Love was on a car radio and he remembered thinking Woah that’s really good. But he didn’t want to admit that he liked it right away because he was afraid that it was something like the Partridge Pamily or something.
How do you balance your singing and writing with drumming?
RT: Strangely enough, singing and drumming never bothered me, although I knowof drummers who do have problems with the two. See, back when I was in school,the singing bit was forced on me one day when the lead singer in the band I wasplaying with suddenly picked up and left. We had to do the gig and I had tosing. That’s basically how I became a vocalist.
RS: Sounds as if it was a very spontaneous thing.
RT: In a way, yes it was. But before that I used to do some backup singing. Ifound singing and drumming much easier than I expected. Mind you, that was along time ago. I never had a time problem, so that was a big plus. Butphysically speaking, it was very exhausting. I mean just playing drums itself is very demanding.
Hey you boy hey you hey you boy
Think that you know what you’re doing? – You think you’re gonna set things to rights -You’re just another picture on a teenage wall
You’re just another sucker ready for a fall – You gonna fight from the inside
RS: How did you get involved with writing songs? Did you always write?
RT: No, I didn’t. When we first started Queen and I first met Brian [May,Queen’s guitarist], I wasn’t really good enough on the guitar to write. You can’t really write if you just play drums; you need something else, like theguitar. I enjoyed playing the instrument and eventually, I taught myself towrite by watching and listening to other people. It wasn’t easy at first, and inthe beginning, the songs were far from great.
Taylor met Brian May and Tim Staffell in 1968 after seeing an advert on a noticeboard at Imperial College for a drummer. Smile included May as lead guitarist, Staffell as lead vocalist and bassist, and later Taylor on drums.
The band only lasted for two years before Staffell departed to join Humpy Bong, leaving the band with only a catalogue of nine songs:
“Step On Me” (Staffell/May) originally from May and Staffell’s band 1984.
“Doin’ Alright” (Staffell/May) (later remade for Queen’s debut album)
“Polar Bear” (May)
“Silver Salmon” (Staffell)
“See What A Fool I’ve Been” (May, based on the song “That’s How I Feel” by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee)
In 1969, Taylor was working with Freddie Bulsara at the Kensington Market (they were living in an apartment around the same time). Mercury, then known as Freddie Mercury, was an avid fan of Smile.
After the band split up in 1970, Bulsara convinced the remaining two members to continue, and he eventually joined the band. In 1971, they found bassist John Deacon and brought him into the group, before going on to release their debut album in 1973.
“Rock It (Prime Jive)” – The Game (1980) (Lead vocals, except for the intro, sung by Mercury)
THE CROSS – “The Also Rans” (Roger Taylor)
I was born on the twenty second floor of a bird cage
I was bound to rock – I was born to rage
When your daddy gets drunk and your ma has no hope
And you’re tough and you’re young and you got enough rope
And you make a wrong turn and you make some mistakes
You run outta control and you ain’t got no brakes
And the country’s a wreck and the government’s cruel
Then you better check out – if you wanna be cool
It’s a hard road – in a world that stinks
God have mercy on the man that thinks
It’s a hard road – in a world that sucks
God don’t love you when you’re out of luck
So I work real hard and I earn my pay
And I drink all night – it’s the only way
To make some fun outta life – just a little bit more
And when I get up my nerve – I’m gonna rob me a store
Or even find me a girl – you never know your luck
And she’ll cook and she’ll clean – just to make a few bucks
It’s a grand old world – going down the pan
And there ain’t no cure – for an also ran
Yeah it’s a hard road – in a world that stinks
God have mercy on a man that thinks
Yeah it’s a hard road – we’re going down the pan
God have mercy on the also rans
You gotta have mercy on the also rans
If you wanna get out you gotta be desperate Dan
You know what I mean
A hard road
It’s a hard road – when you’re on your own
It’s a hard road – when your skin’s the wrong tone
It’s a hard road – if your face don’t fit
It’s a hard road – you gotta take a lotta shit
‘Cos God don’t love you when you got no bucks
It’s a hard road – oh yeah
God don’t love you when you’re outta luck – yeah
God have mercy (hard road)
God have mercy (hard road)
Have mercy (hard road) on the also rans
God have mercy (hard road)
God have mercy (hard road) on the also rans