March 1977: Queen Releases "Tie Your Mother Down"

Queen Tie Your Mother Down single cover art
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In December 1976, Queen would release the band's fifth studio album, A Day at the Races. The first single from the LP, "Somebody to Love," would be a gospel-tinged hit, with singer Freddie Mercury channeling Aretha Franklin.

For the follow-up single, the group went in a much harder direction. On March 4, 1977, Queen would release "Tie Your Mother Down."

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"Well, this one in fact is a track written by Brian (May) actually, I dunno why," Mercury would tell Capital Radio in 1976 when asked about the song's title. "Maybe he was in one of his vicious moods. I think he's trying to out do me after 'Death On Two Legs' actually."  

“I woke up one morning and started playing this riff,” May Told UCR Radio in 2018. “It’s sort of inspired by Rory Gallagher, this business of sort of snapping on and off the strings. The riff just really appealed to me, and in my head i could hear this childlike ‘Tie your mother down’ and that’s as far as I got. But I remember sitting there as the sun went down, plugging away at this riff.”

Queen Tie Your Mother Down

When May took the riff to Mercury, he told the singer that he didn't have any words beyond one line: "Tie your mother down," adding that "obviously, we can't use it." Mercury's response: "Yeah, you can!"

May would add that the song “represents the cry of a teenager who’s being inhibited in the conquest of his girlfriend by her parents. It all made perfect sense. That’s why it had come into my head. ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ kind of wrote itself.”

While not nearly as big of a chart hit as "Somebody to Love," Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down" would still make it as high as #49 over the week of April 9, 1977. The #1 song in America that week: Abba's "Dancing Queen."

Queen would film a performance video for the track at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum while on tour in 1977. The group would have a harrowing moment while making the clip, as explosives on Roger Taylor's drum riser would literally blow the drummer off of his seat. If you look closely around the :13 mark of the video, Mercury can be seen suddenly looking back at Taylor before there is a video edit. Reportedly, that's the moment Taylor was sent flying by the explosives. "Nearly killed Roger, it has to be said!," May would later chortle in the early music video's commentary.

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