Innuendo (song)


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Freddie Mercury - lead and backing vocals, keyboards
Brian May - guitars
John Deacon - bass guitar
Roger Taylor - drums, percussion
Steve Howe - Spanish guitar solo
David Richards - keyboard programming
  • Length: 6:31



Innuendo, 1991
Greatest Hits II, 1991


Innuendo, 1991


Now 19, CD, UK, 1991, CD NOW 19

Alternate Versions:

  • 12" Extended (Incl Video Intro) - Greatest Flix I & II: Pioneer PLMPD 01171
  • 12" Explosive - CDS Parlophone CD Queen 16
  • 12" Full Video/Explosive Hybrid Version - Unreleased
  • Greatest Hits II Edit - Greatest Hits II: Parlophone CDP 79 7971 2
  • 1998 eYe Game-play - Electronic Arts DDE05501 101S

Queen Talks

“Big, long and pretentious! It goes through a lot of changes."

Roger Taylor - 1991

"I think 'Innuendo' was one of those things which could either be big – or nothing. We had the same feelings about Bohemian Rhapsody. It's a risk, because a lot of people say, 'It's too long, it's too involved, and we don't want to play it on the radio.' I think that could be a problem in which case it will die. Or it could happen that people say, 'This is interesting and new and different,' and we'll take a chance."

Brian May - 1991

"[The song] started off as most things do, with us just messing around and finding a groove that sounded nice. All of us worked on the arrangement. Freddie started off the theme of the words as he was singing along, then Roger worked on the rest of them. I worked on some of the arrangement, particularly the middle bit, then there was an extra part that Freddie did for the middle as well. It basically came together like a jigsaw puzzle."

Brian May - 1991

"It's got the bolero-type rhythm, a very strange track. That's going to be the first single here. It's a bit of a risk, but it's different, and you either win it all or you lose it all. It had a nice sound and feel, and we stuck with that. The Spanish motif is suggested from the start: those little riffs at the beginning are sort of Bolero-esque. It seemed like the natural thing to explore those ideas on an acoustic guitar, and it just gradually evolved. Steve Howe helped out and did a fantastic job. We love all that stuff – it's like a little fantasy land adventure."

Brian May - August 1991, Guitar World

"[Steve] just happened to be around in Switzerland, when we were working and he just dropped in. We were working on this little Spanish guitar piece in the middle. He's very good at that sort of stuff, so instantly it seemed like a good idea to get him in to play all the stuff that I can't play."

Brian May - 1991, Guitar Magazine

"It was a group collaboration, but I wrote the lyrics. I think the lyrics were mine, and the rest of it was the band. It was a group effort."

Roger Taylor - 2002

Additional Quotes

Steve Howe

"They played me 'Innuendo' and I go, 'Yeah, heavy metal flamenco!' And then Brian says, 'Look, I'd like you play on this,' and I said, 'You're joking, it sounds great, leave it like it is,' and he said, 'No no no, I want you to play on it, I want to you to play really fast, I want you to run around the guitar a lot.' So within a couple of hours I tested some of his Gibsons, Chet Atkins classical solid body guitars, and found one that I helped balance the strings because he wasn't sure how to balance the volume between the different strings which is the important thing to do on those guitars. So I got up and running, we did a few takes, we edited it a little bit, we fixed up a few things, then we went and had dinner. So we went back to the studio and they said we really really like this and I said, 'Fine, let's go with it.' So I left very happy. I'd worked with people who were diehard Queen people, and a funny thing happened a little while later, I was on a ferry going to Holland and on this ferry which takes a long time, five hours, were the Queen fan club, all going to Rotterdam to a Queen event, and a couple of them saw me and they came racing over and they said, 'You're Steve Howe! You're on "Innuendo"!' And they all came out of the room, sitting around talking and things... and my memories of Queen will always be emotional because they were a great band and it was just great, it really was a thrill to be part of that, and thanks for asking me."

David Richards - 2001

"'Innuendo' was an improvisation type song where they actually recorded it here in the big concert hall, it's just next door, and we set up like a live performance, and they just started playing, and sort of got into a nice rhythm and a groove, and some chords and then Freddie said, 'Oh, I like that,' and rushed downstairs into the concert hall and started singing along with it. Obviously then, once that initial idea was down on tape, then there was a lot of rearranging and putting extra things on, but the actual beginning of it was like a live thing. It just happened. It was wonderful. [Freddie] played a strong role in the writing of ['Innuendo']. Steve just happened to drop in one day to say hello to me. He had been recording at Mountain some ten years before with the group Yes. As soon as he popped his head round the door Freddie recognized him and said, 'Come on in and play some guitar!' He had no guitar with him so he used Brian's Dan Armstrong acoustic guitar with a direct output and tone control. Brian played the rhythm guitar and then echoed the solo afterwards on the Red Special."


Cover Versions

Chords & Tabs

  • chords


(One two three four)

While the sun hangs in the sky and the desert has sand
While the waves crash in the sea and meet the land
While there's a wind and the stars and the rainbow
Till the mountains crumble into the plain

Oh yes we'll keep on trying
Tread that fine line
Oh we'll keep on trying yeah
Just passing our time

While we live according to race, colour or creed
While we rule by blind madness and pure greed
Our lives dictated by tradition, superstition, false religion
Through the aeons, and on and on

Oh yes we'll keep on trying
We'll tread that fine line
Oh oh we'll keep on trying
Till the end of time
Till the end of time

Through the sorrow all through our splendour
Don't take offence at my innuendo

You can be anything you want to be
Just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be
Be free with your tempo be free be free
Surrender your ego be free be free to yourself

Oooh oooh
If there's a God or any kind of justice under the sky
If there's a point if there's a reason to live or die
If there's an answer to the questions we feel bound to ask
Show yourself - destroy our fears - release your mask

Oh yes we'll keep on trying
Hey tread that fine line
Yeah we'll keep on smiling yeah (yeah yeah)
And whatever will be will be
We'll keep on trying
We'll just keep on trying
Till the end of time
Till the end of time
Till the end of time