On this day
  • 1977: Queen live on A Day At The Races Tour at Ahoy Hall, Rotterdam,...
  • 1991: Queen\'s Headlong entered UK charts at 28th place (later climbed up...

Read all 2 events for 17 May at diary.QueenSongs.info

The Miracle


No longer a live band, Queen took their first genuine year off (1983 was only a semester off as they were soon back in the studios for The Works) and then got together in January 1988 with David Richards to work on a new album. They'd alternate between England and Switzerland and have a new rule where external performers wouldn't be used, except for two long-serving crew members who assisted with MIDI programming.

The album had been initially scheduled for a Xmas 1988 release and the working title was Invisible Men. It was also meant to dial down on synthesisers (a decision which they clearly reversed later on) and to credit all four members equally regardless of who'd actually penned each song. A lot of the sessions only featured part of the band as they were all splitting their time between Queen and other commitments: Frederick was doing his duet album, Brian was working on his solo record, Roger had a parallel band (where he was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist instead of the drummer) and John was intermittently leaving for holidays.

The Miracle was largely (though not entirely) digitally recorded and made use of 48-track technology via having two 24-track recorders synchronised (as master and slave). Computers and automation were also heavily used for mixing. Despite all the reliance on modern technology, some backing tracks were at least partly live including 'Was It All Worth It'.

Available Sources

Some photographs of the band in the studios were put on Fan Club magazines at the time, but otherwise they worked in almost absolute secrecy. Most information about synthesisers has been obtained thanks to correspondence with experts and enthusiasts all over the place, some of who have even recreated the actual timbres (many of which come from presets anyway) using digital keyboards of the time.

David Richards was interviewed by Sound on Sound and the subsequent article, published in August 1989, includes in-depth commentary about some of the equipment employed and a bit of what was done where. Interestingly enough, David confirmed backing vocals were usually recorded having all three founding members gathering 'round the same mic, it wasn't just a gimmick for the videos.

There are stems for 'I Want It All' available as the song was included in Rock Band as downloadable content from Tuesdy the 20th of October 2009.

Documented Timeline

  • 1986:
    • Friday 1st August: Whilst playing the Mini-Stadium in Barcelona, Brian plays a working version of 'Chinese Torture' as part of his guitar solo. He keeps doing it for the remainder of the tour (i.e. one more week).
  • 1987:
    • Late: Frederick writes a letter to the Fan Club and announces the band had a meeting and are scheduled to start recording in January 1988.
  • 1988:
    • January: All four band members get together in London and start working on the album.
    • February: Recording sessions continue in London.
      • Friday 19th: The Cross kicks off their first tour at the University in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Brian, John and Frederick continue recording without him.
    • March: 
      • Roger's still touring Britain, and the remaining members take a break as well. Brian records 'Back to the Light' (the song) in London and then flies to LA, John goes to France and Malta, and Frederick works on 'Guide Me Home', 'How Can I Go On' and 'Ensueño' for his duet album. The Cross take some weeks off but then start rehearsing the German leg of their tour.
        • A posterior Fan Club magazine issue (Summer) confirms Brian had been writing songs with Frank Musker and Elizabeth Lamers in LA during this period. That may have been the genesis of 'Too Much Love Will Kill You'.
      • John writes a letter to the Fan Club confirming the early sessions were quite productive and announcing they'd reunite again in April to continue working on the album. At that point, it was expected that the record would be released at the end of the year.
    • April: The four of them reunite in Switzerland and continue working on the album.
      • Monday 11th: The Cross begin their twelve-date tour across West Germany. Brian, John and Frederick continue recording without Roger.
      • Friday 22nd: Frederick attends a gala in Madrid honouring Montserrat Caballé's 25th anniversary in opera.
      • Monday 25th: As the Shove It tour is over, Roger soon re-joins the rest of the band in Switzerland to continue working on the album.
    • May:
      • Frederick goes to Barcelona to promote the yet-unreleased name-sake record. The rest of the band continue working without him.
      • Roger writes a letter to the Fan Club announcing they'll take a break from recordings in June and that the album is scheduled to be finished before the end of the year.
    • June - July: Summer break - Frederick goes to Spain, Roger works with The Cross (rehearsals? videos? No idea), John goes to France and Brian to LA.
    • August: Still on break, John remains in France whilst Brian works on his solo album, Frederick keeps coordinating Barcelona's upcoming release and Roger's still with The Cross (though not recording or touring - apparently mostly writing and rehearsing).
    • September:
      • Thursday 8th: Brian writes a letter to the Fan Club, complaining about the press and mentioning both the Queen album and his own solo record were about halfway done. He also comments on Roger splitting his time between Queen and The Cross and John being on holidays in Biarritz at the moment.
      • Monday 12th: Queen reunite to continue working on the album. It's confirmed that the album's release has been postponed until Spring 1989.
    • October: Another break - Frederick releases the duet album with Montserrat Caballé, Brian works on his solo effort, John goes to France for holidays and Roger... probably works with The Cross, or takes a holiday as well, or both.
    • November: Roger, John and Frederick work on the Queen record, Brian's still mostly occupied with his solo album.
    • December: Holidays.
      • The Fan Club magazine announces plans for the album, at this point still untitled, to be finished at the end of January and four titles are revealed: 'Scandal', 'Rain Must Fall', 'Invisible Man' and 'Was It All Worth It'. A letter from Frederick in that same issue confirms plans for a Spring release.
  • 1989:
    • January - February: The four of them work on the album in London, finishing it and mixing it together.
    • February:
      • Fan Club Magazine:
        • John writes a letter from Olympic Studios in London, where he informs they're finishing off the album. He teases a 'strong and unusual image for the front cover', mentions they haven't yet decided on what the lead single will be and confirms they won't be touring.
        • Brian answers a questionnaire sent to him, and claims the new Queen album to be his favourite (was he really pleased with it or was it PR? Hard to tell!).
        • Elsewhere, the Fan Club magazine confirms the album title and what the cover will be like (it doesn't show it, though - it just describes it). The video for the single is planned for March.
    • Wednesday 22nd March: Album mastered from the final Olympic mixes, which at the time included 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' (but there's also a note on the master clarifying it won't be on the final version).
    • April: The band shoot the video for 'I Want It All', directed by David Mallet.
    • May:
      • Monday 1st: 'I Want It All' / 'Hang On in There' released in Britain.
      • Monday 22nd: Album released in Britain.
      • Thursday 25th: Only three days after having been issued, The Miracle is simultaneously certified Silver, Gold and Platinum in the UK for having sold 60,000, 100,000 and 300,000 copies, respectively.
    • June:
      • Saturday 3rd: The Official Charts company reveals The Miracle to have been the best-selling album of the week in the UK, having temporarily knocked out Jason Donovan's Ten Good Reasons.
        • That week, Roger writes a letter to the Fan Club announcing 'Breakthru' will be the second single and describing what's being planned for the video.
      • Tuesday 6th: The album is released in the USA.
      • Friday 9th: The album is released in Japan.
      • Monday 12th:
        • The album is released in Australia.
        • Queen shoot the video for 'Breakthru' at the Nene Valley Railway in Cambridgeshire, England, directed by the Torpedo Twins. They film over two days (12th and 13th).
      • Monday 19th: 'Breakthru' / 'Stealin'' is released as the album's sophomore single in Britain.
    • July:
      • Wednesday 26th: Queen shoot the video for 'The Invisible Man' at Pinewood Studios in London, directed by the Torpedo Twins.
    • August:
      • Monday 7th: 'The Invisible Man' / 'Hijack My Heart' is released as the album's third single in Britain.
      • Brian writes a letter to the Fan Club confirming his home studio has been set up with Brian Zellis' help, and mentioning Roger's working with The Cross on some ideas. He also asks the fans not to badger Frederick asking him to go on the road.
    • September:
      • Wednesday 27th: Queen shoot the video for 'Scandal' at Pinewood Studios in London, directed by the Torpedo Twins.
    • October:
      • Monday 9th: 'Scandal' / 'My Life Has Been Saved' is released as the album's fourth single in Britain.
    • November:
      • Thursday 23rd: Queen shoot the video for 'The Miracle' at Elstree Studios, directed by the Torpedo Twins.
      • Monday 27th: 'The Miracle' / 'Stone Cold Crazy' is released as the album's fifth single in Britain.

Documented Recording Venues

  • Mountain Studios in the Casino Barrière on 9 Theatre Road, Montreux, Vaud 1820, Swiss Confederation.
  • Olympic Sound Studios on 117 Church Road, Barnes, Richmond-upon-Thames, Greater London SW13, England.
  • The Town House on 150 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush, Royal Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Greater London W12 8EN, England.

Documented Personnel

  • Performers:
    • The band:
      • John Deacon: Electric bass, electric guitars, digital synthesisers, drum computer, MIDI programming.
      • Brian May: Lead and backing vocals, electric guitars, digital synthesisers, drum computer, MIDI programming.
      • Frederick Mercury: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic piano, digital synthesisers, drum computer, MIDI programming.
      • Roger Taylor: Backing vocals, acoustic drums, digital synthesisers, drum computer, MIDI programming.
    • Guest musicians:
      • David Richards: Digital synthesisers, drum computer, MIDI programming.
      • Brian Zellis: MIDI programming.
  • Studio Crew:
    • John Brough: Assistant engineer (Town House).
    • David Richards: Deputy producer, chief engineer.
    • Justin Smith: Assistant engineer (Mountain).
  • Technical Crew:
    • Martin Groves: Equipment supervision.
    • Brian Zellis: Equipment supervision.

Documented Instruments

  • Acoustic Pianos:
    • Bösendorfer (Unknown Model): Town House.
    • Steinway B 6' 10": Mountain.
    • Steinway (Unknown Model): Olympic and Town House.
  • Electric Basses:
    • Fender Precisions:
      • 1955 Masterbuilt: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
      • 196?: John had two (black and natural), which may have been his main ones.
      • 1981 Special: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
      • 1983 Elite: Possibly used alongside the main ones.
    • Non-Fenders:
      • Giffin Bespoke: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
      • Kramer DMZ: Most likely merely a spare, but could've also been used somewhere.
      • Music Man Stingray: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
      • Warwick Buzzard: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
  • Electric Guitars:
    • BHM Bespoke: Brian's main.
    • Fender Telecaster: Possibly used by John here and there.
    • Gibson Chet Atkins CE: 'I Want It All' (alongside the BHM, of course).
    • Guild Bespoke: Brian's spare.
  • Synthesisers:
    • E-mu Emulator II+: Used frequently, for instance for 'Was It All Worth It''s orchestra.
    • Roland D-50: Main synth on the album. Noticeable on 'Breakthru' (organ), for instance.
    • Yamaha DX-7: Most noticeable on John's co-written tracks and 'Was It All Worth It', but possibly also used elsewhere.
  • Percussion:
    • LP Congas: 'Rain Must Fall'.
    • Ludwig Bespoke Acoustic Drums: Roger's main kits (he had several of them).

Documented Studio Equipment

  • Tape Recorders:
    • Sony 3324 24-Track Digital: Mountain.
    • Studer A-80 24-Track Analogue: Town House, Mountain.
  • Mixing Consoles:
    • Neve 8048: Mountain.
    • SSL 4000-G: Town House and Olympic.
  • Microphones:
    • Electrovoice RE-20: Bass-drum at Mountain.
    • Schoeps CK-1: Possibly used for at least some backing vocals.
    • Shure SM-58: Guitars, and also vocals, especially when Frederick was too ill to go into the record booth.
  • Computers:
    • Apple Mac II.
    • Atari 1040-ST.
    • Linn 9000: Drum programming.
  • Software:
    • C-Lab Notator.
    • Passport Master-Track Pro.
  • Compressors/Limiters:
    • dbx 266-XL.
    • Fairchild Valve.
    • Neve.
    • UREI LA-2A.
  • Delay Machines:
    • AMS Digital: Used on drums and guitars.
    • Eventide DDL-1745: Town House.
    • Lexicon 224-XL: Town House.
    • Publison: Favoured by David Richards.
    • MXR M-175: Town House.
  • Sundry Equipment:
    • EMT 140 Plate Reverb: Town House.
    • Friendchip SRC-AT Synchroniser.
    • MDB Window Recorder Digital Sampler.

Myths, Legends & Ongoing Debates

  • Authorship: All songs on this album were jointly credited, and through the years people have debated over and over who the 'real' (chief) authors of each of the tracks were. Of course, it's not an exact science, and sometimes band members or people who worked with them have also intervened, though claims sometimes contradict each other. In a nutshell:
    • The famous Queen for an Hour interview, featuring all four members and having been preserved in audio format (much more dependable than written evidence, paraphrase or hearsay), directly points at Roger as the main writer of 'Breakthru'' (sans intro) and 'Invisible Man', and all four band members clearly state 'My Baby Does Me' to have been a collaboration between John and Frederick.
    • It's virtually a universal consensus that 'I Want It All' is Brian's, as confirmed by several live witnesses and by the fact it's directly credited to him on Greatest Video Hits II. 'Scandal' is also widely confirmed as his, first by Roger in 1989 (interviewed in a limo in LA), then by David Richards (interviewed for the book Queen File, 2001) and then by Brian himself (Greatest Video Hits II, 2003).
    • 'The Miracle' was mentioned by both Frederick and Peter Freestone to have been a four-way split in the lyrics, but the music's continuously been attributed to Frederick (both by Brian and David Richards).
    • 'Rain Must Fall' was initially often mis-attributed to Roger, just because it had a lot of percussion (bland argument, in fact). Peter Freestone claimed in his book that it was Frederick's, and David Richards confirmed it'd been another Deacon/Mercury collaboration. Brian, when asked about its music on his website, said that it was 'very much a Deacon' area.
    • 'Party' does have some contradictory claims: Peter Freestone wrote in his book that it was Roger's, but there's audio evidence from Roger (Queen for an Hour, 1989) admitting he wasn't even there when the rest of the band wrote it. David Richards claimed both this song and 'Khashoggi's Ship' were, at least lyrically speaking, true studio collaborations, but added that the opening lines of 'Party' had been suggested by Freddie whilst jamming on the piano.
    • 'Was It All Worth It' was often mis-attributed to Brian just because it had a lot of guitar (again, it doesn't prove anything). Brian himself admitted (Guitar, 1994) that it was mostly Frederick although he (Brian) had also helped a bit. David Richards (Queen File, 2001) confirmed the music to be Frederick's and the lyrics to have been a collaboration (and pointed out Roger had come up with 'we loved you madly').