Under Pressure

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Freddie Mercury - lead and backing vocals, piano, synthesizer (?), organ (?), handclaps, fingersnaps
David Bowie - lead vocals, synthesizer (?), additional guitar (?), handclaps, fingersnaps
Brian May - guitars, handclaps, fingersnaps
John Deacon - bass guitar, additional guitar (?), handclaps, fingersnaps
Roger Taylor - drums, backing vocals, handclaps, fingersnaps
David Richards - synthesizer (?), organ (?)
  • Length: 4:02



Greatest Hits, 1981 USA
Hot Space, 1982
Live Magic, 1986
Greatest Hits II, 1991
Classic Queen, 1992
Live At Wembley '86, 1992
Greatest Hits III, 1999
Live At Wembley Stadium, 2003
Queen On Fire: Live At The Bowl, 2004
Queen Rock Montreal, 2007


Under Pressure, 1981
Under Pressure, 1988 3" CD Single
Innuendo, 1991 12" / CD Single
Under Pressure (rah mix), 1999 CD Single


The Ultimate 80's, CD, 1994, 516 831-2

Alternate Versions:

  • Greatest Hits II Edit - Greatest Hits II: Parlophone CDP 79 7971 2
  • Classic Queen Edit - Hollywood HR-61311-2
  • Karaoke Instrumental - Japan Toshiba EMI TOLW - 3249.50
  • 1991 KEWB FM US Radio - Unreleased
  • 1999 Rah Mix Album - Greatest Hits III
  • 1999 Rah Mix Radio Edit - CD QUEENS 28
  • 1999 Mike Spencer Mix - CD QUEENS 28
  • 1999 Knebworth “Live” Mix - CD QUEENS 28
  • 1999 12” Promo Club 2000 Mix - Queen WL 28
  • Feel Like: Original Demo: (5:00) - Unreleased
  • 1999 CD-R Acetate Millennium Mix (Long Intro) - Unreleased
  • 1999 CD-R Acetate Millennium Mix (Short Intro) - Unreleased


Grosse Point Blank, CD, 1997

Queen Talks

"David Bowie and Freddie and I have been friends for the past few years. 'Under Pressure' was a spontaneous collaboration. We started out just playing some old songs, then worked on a few ideas and liked 'Under Pressure' very much, so we finished it."

Roger Taylor - 1981

"Freddie and David had been friends for a long time, and he just came in to the studio we were in and we did a jam session. The song itself is mainly David's and Freddie's idea, but we were all included in the credits. It was an interesting experience, because David wrote the bass-line, he's responsible for it. He's a talented man, and that song is one of those that I really like."

John Deacon - 1982

"Everybody laughed when they asked what 'Under Pressure' was all about. It's quite simply about love, which is the most un-cool, un-hip thing."

Roger Taylor - 1982

"This is a very long story. He was quite difficult to work with, because it was the meeting of two different methods of working. It was stimulating, but at the same time, almost impossible to resolve. We're very pigheaded and set in our ways and Mr. Bowie is too. In fact, he's probably as pigheaded as the four of us put together. I think it was a worthwhile thing to do. But after 'Under Pressure' was done, there were continual disagreements about how it should be put out or if it should even be put out at all. David wanted to redo the entire thing. I had given up by that time because it had gone a long way from what I would have liked to see. But there is still a lot of good stuff in the song. There was a compromise; Freddie, David and Mack actually sat down and produced a mix – under a lot of strain. Roger was also along to keep the peace to some extent, because he and David are friends."

Brian May - 1982

"On the album, the track was credited to Bowie and Queen, but in fact it was essentially Freddie, although all contributed. The bass line came from David, it took me a certain time to learn it. But there was also a strong influence from Brian for the middle part. It was an interesting experience which we might do repeat if we have a chance with David and other people."

John Deacon - 1984

"We didn't plan anything. [Bowie] just happened to be in town with friends, and he just kept popping into the studio... and we were jamming to some of his songs and ours... and we had a few bottles of wine and things and we suddenly said, 'Why don't we try something totally new?' And out came this song. I remember David half way through said, 'My God, I think it's caught fire! Let's take it!' So suddenly it then became a worthwhile project. Before we were just fooling around, and we said, 'Let's grab this while it's happening, because if we come back tomorrow we will probably go our separate ways and not think about it', so we just carried on. It was virtually a 24-hour session. We just kept on at it, and finally got the crux of the song, and then when we knew it was going to do something we still worked on it another day, and then we finished it."

Freddie Mercury - 1985

"Absolutely nothing was written, and, in fact, all that we were doing was jamming and David came in one night, and we were just playing other people's songs for fun and David said, 'This is stupid. Why don't we just write one?' It was originally called 'People on Streets', and that was the basis of it, and we took the multi track tapes to New York, and I spent all day there with David and mixed it that night. I remember, we were fiddling about and we got the bass line, and then we went for a pizza! And when we got back, we couldn't remember it, and somebody thought of it; John did, yes."

Roger Taylor - 2002

"David was living in Switzerland, where we were recording in a studio we owned at the time [Mountain Studios] in Montreux. He basically just popped in to see us. Freddie had met him before. We all had a little chart and then went straight in the studio and started playing around. We played a few old songs and then something new started to happen and we said, "Okay, let's try and record this." It was a truly spontaneous thing. We felt our way through a backing track all together as an ensemble. And then David brought up an unusual idea for creating the vocal. He was kind of famous for writing lyrics by collecting different bits of paper with quotes on them. And we did a corresponding thing as regards writing the top line for the song. When the backing track was done, David said, "Okay, let's each of us go in the vocal booth and sing how we think the melody should go - just off the tops of our heads - and we'll compile a vocal out of that." And that's what we did. Some of the original bits even made it onto the record. Freddie going "b-b-b-boom-ba," that scat singing stuff, was part of the initial track he went in and did off the top of his head. Odd isnt it? That's why the words are so curious, some of them, anyway. There was a point where somebody had to take control, and I think it's fair to say that David took the reins and decided that he wanted to rationalize the lyrics and them say what he felt they should say."

Brian May - 18/10/2002, Guitar World

Additional Quotes

David Bowie - 1983

"That was through Dave Richards, the engineer at the studio. I was in town, in Montreux, doing some other work there, and because I believe that Queen have something to do with the studio on a business level, I think it's their studio or something like that and they were recording there, and David knew that I was in town and phoned me up and asked me to come down, if I'd like to come down to see hat was happening, so I went down, and these things happen you know. Suddenly you're writing something together, and it was totally spontaneous, it certainly wasn't planned. It was, er, peculiar."

Crystal Taylor - 1997

"On the first night of recording 'Pressure', at the end of the evening Brian and myself went on a bit of a binge and ended up back at the studio with Dave Richards for a jam session. Once again we were out of it and Brian wanted to play, with him on guitar, Dave on piano and yours truly drumming, and let me assure you that I am the world's worst drummer when I'm sober so try and imagine this. Dave actually taped it, and years later we listened, and out of about an hour of playing there is actually ten minutes of good rock."


Cover Versions

Chords & Tabs

  • chords


Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

Bah bah bah bah bah bah
Bah bah bah bah bah bah

That's OK!
It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out!
Pray tomorrow takes me higher
Pressure on people
People on streets

Do do do bah bah bah bah
Chipping around
Kick my brains round the floor
These are the days
It never rains but it pours
People on streets
People on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out!
Pray tomorrow takes me higher higher higher
Pressure on people
People on streets
Turned away from it all
Like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
But it's so slashed and torn
Why why why?
Love love love love

Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love give love give love?
Give love give love give love give love give love?
Because love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure pressure