After the lengthy sessions for Innuendo finished up in November 1990, Freddie was adamant that the band go back into the studios to work on further material. Knowing he was on borrowed time, he desired to get the most out of him while he still could. The original plan was to record some extra material for single B-side release, but as the sessions progressed, the band were surprised with the quality of the material and instead decided to record another album.
Sessions progressed steadily throughout the first half of 1991, with the band recording at Mountain Studios in Montreux. While it's not precisely known just what the band had worked on, three of the songs eventually released on the album – Mother Love, You Don't Fool Me, and A Winter's Tale – date from these sessions. According to Brian and Roger, the band were only able to work two or three days a week, and were at the mercy of Freddie's health. During this period, Brian and Roger continued to work on material for solo projects ( Back To The Light and The Cross's Blue Rock, respectively), while John went on various extended holidays with his wife and children.
Varying accounts have indicated the time period when Freddie was unable to continue working on the album. While David Richards had somewhat carelessly said that Freddie finished his last vocal and then passed away ten days later, he had also explained in the Champions Of The World documentary that Freddie's final vocal was on 22 May 1991, and then held up a studio track sheet of Mother Love that confirmed this. It's likely that the sessions extended no further than June 1991; as much of a workaholic as he was, Freddie also valued his rest and relaxation. Peter Freestone and Jim Hutton have also claimed that Freddie was unable to speak in his last weeks, and, listening to Mother Love, it's not possible he recorded his vocal ten days before he died.
However, the sessions weren't all doom and gloom. Freddie continuously pestered the others for more songs to sing, as Brian explained: "Right up until the end, Freddie asked me for lyrics and music that he could work on, and he was adamant that this material should be released." When the sessions ended, though, other matters became a priority for the time: Brian continued to promote Innuendo and Roger worked with The Cross for their final album.
On the evening of 24 November 1991, Brian, Roger, and John met with Jim Beach to discuss their future. It was unanimously decided that the band would be unable to continue as a recording and touring unit; it was also decided that some kind of celebration of Freddie's life and career should be planned. While collecting a BMI award for Best Single of 1991 (These Are The Days Of Our Lives which, ironically, was released as the secondary A-side of Bohemian Rhapsody), Roger indicated that a celebration was in the works for the spring of 1992; that eventually became the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
After the concert, it was universally accepted that George Michael stole the show, and rumors abounded that Brian, Roger, and John would continue on with him as a lead singer. Instead, Brian went on tour with his own band, and Roger worked on his own solo material. Nothing was heard from the final post- Innuendo sessions until the autumn of 1995, though the band had been working on the songs as far back as the summer of 1993, when Roger and John started working on the material, adding new drums and bass to old songs. Brian was annoyed. "Roger and John became very impatient with me and started working on the tapes. I didn't want this stuff to go out without my involvement, so I took the tapes off them, felt that they'd done it wrong and spent months putting it all back together. Doing Made In Heaven was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. But I wouldn't have put my seal of approval on it if I hadn't thought it was up to standard."
The others worked discontinuously between 1993 and 1995, piecing together the album from scraps of material discarded over the years. No songs survive from the 1970s, though a plethora of unreleased material would have worked nicely; it's obvious that the band weren't going for a posthumous compilation, a la Led Zeppelin's Coda, but were going for a cohesive album. It's A Beautiful Day is the oldest song on the album, dating from the April 1980 sessions for The Game; Let Me Live was recorded in 1983 (as Another Little Piece Of My Heart) during sessions for The Works; Heaven For Everyone, recorded in 1987, featured Freddie's original vocal; My Life Has Been Saved and Freddie's vocal for Too Much Love Will Kill You were recorded during The Miracle sessions. You Don't Fool Me was reportedly pieced together from bits of tape, while Let Me Live had existed only as a brief, 90-second jam. (Why Self Made Man or Love Makin' Love, or even a reported recording of Let Me In Your Heart Again, weren't considered is anyone's guess.)
Happily, everything received a fresh new recording, with Freddie's two solo songs sounding more like Queen songs – the title track becomes a grandiose epic, while I Was Born To Love You becomes a scorching rocker. Queen purists are indignant that Freddie would not have wanted his solo material touched, and that it had remained solo material for a reason.
The album was met with a wave of excitement, and became the second-biggest album release of 1995 (behind The Beatles' Anthology 1, which also, incidentally, featured a "new" recording from The Beatles, using an old demo tape of John Lennon's "Free As A Bird"). The album peaked at #1 in the UK, and the five singles - Heaven For Everyone, October 1995 (#2); A Winter's Tale, December 1995 (#6); Too Much Love Will Kill You, February 1996 (#15); Let Me Live, June 1996 (#9); You Don't Fool Me, November 1996 (#17) – all hit the Top 20. The vinyl release of the album featured two alternate sleeves – both taken on Lake Geneva in Montreux, one in the morning and one in the evening – with a brief instrumental snippet at the end of the album. This piece was extended to nearly 23 minutes on the CD release, and was created by David Richards, Brian, and Roger as a sound collage, to signify what Freddie's ascent to Heaven might have been like. (At least, this is how the far more spiritual fans interpret it; David merely explained, "This was started by me having fun with the ASR10 sampler. I took the opening chords of It's A Beautiful Day and made them loop forever. Then I added some of Freddie talking through strange echoes. Brian and Roger heard it and came in to add some effects of their own and we thought of it as a surreal Requiem. It was the end of the album and we all were feeling very emotional.") This piece, deemed a hidden track, was unofficially titled Track 13. The more astute fans will note that there are only eleven true songs on the album; the twelfth song has become known as Yeah, simply because this is all it consists of – all four seconds of it.
While Innuendo is considered Queen's final chapter, Made In Heaven, for all its faults, should be considered as a tasteful epilogue. Fans have hoped for a follow-up album of sorts, though Brian was hesitant to go down a similar path, noting that the posthumous sessions were particularly emotional and difficult. With the apparent retirement of John Deacon, and Brian and Roger now collaborating with Paul Rodgers, Made In Heaven remains the final true Queen album.