Flash Gordon

Overview

The first semi-official confirmation that Queen had been offered to work on a soundtrack came in late 1979 when Roger mentioned it in his letter to the Official International Queen Fan Club magazine. Some demos were done in Munich (the confirmed one comes from February 1980, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of earlier ones having existed) and the main bulk of the album was recorded in June 1980 in London, shortly before they flew to Canada to start the tour for The Game.

English cellist/composer/conductor Paul Buckmaster had been hired to do the orchestral score but he was given the P-45 by the film producers and Howard Blake was asked to do it instead. He wrote the music (including some pieces which incorporated ideas from the Queen members) and conducted the orchestral recordings in September, and then Brian May went to London to work on the final cut. For some October sessions at Utopia Studios, Reinhold Mack was flown, and with the rest of Queen (Roger, John and Frederick) more or less disengaged from the project, the album was credited as being produced by Mack/May.

As the budget was considerably larger (it stemmed from the movie producers), Queen may have worked on 32-track analogue tape-recorders, but instead of taking full advantage of the technology, a lot of the numbers ended up being largely synth-based and not too layered.

Available Sources

Peter Hince wrote on his book that Brian wanted a specific piano sound on the title track and had him (Peter) go to the warehouse to collect some Helpinstill pick-ups and take them to The Town House in Shepherd's Bush (London), where Brian was recording. No other specific details are known or documented: virtually anything other than 'The Hero' and the orchestra could've been done at The Town House, Advision or The Music Centre (all in London), and there could've even been some tracks done in Munich making it to the final cut.

No photos or footage have been published from these sessions, and this is the only Queen album of which no stems or multi-tracks have leaked in any form as of April 2020.

Documented Timeline

  • 1980:
    • February - May: Whilst recording The Game, Queen also start off some basic ideas for the Flash Gordon OST.
    • June: Most of the album is recorded at various studios in London.
    • September: Orchestral sessions take place at Anvil Studio.
    • October: Brian ties loose ends and comes up with a new song for the closing credits, which is recorded at Utopia in London.
    • Monday 24th November: The lead single, 'Flash' / 'Football Fight', is released in Britain.
    • Friday 5th December: Film premieres in America.
    • Monday 8th December: The album is released in Britain.
  • 1981:
    • Thursday 1st January: 'Flash', the single, is certified Silver in Britain for having sold 250,000 copies in that territory.
    • Wednesday 21st January: The album is simultaneously certified Silver and Gold in the UK for having sold 60,000 and 100,000 copies in that territory.

Documented Recording Venues

  • Advision Studios on 23 Gosfield Street, Fitzrovia, City of Westminster, Greater London W1W 6HG, England.
  • Anvil Studio in Denham, Uxbridge, Hillingdon, Greater London UB9 5HQ, England.
  • Musicland Studios in the Arabella House Basement, Munich, Bavaria 81925, West Germany.
  • The Music Centre on Engineers Way, Wembley, Brent, Greater London HA9, England.
  • The Town House on 150 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush, Royal Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Greater London W12 8EN, England.
  • Utopia Studio on 7 Chalcot Road, Primrose Hill, Camden Town, Greater London NW1 8LH, England.

Documented Personnel

  • Performers:
    • The band:
      • John Deacon: Electric bass, electric guitar, analogue  synthesiser.
      • Brian May: Lead and backing vocals, electric guitars, acoustic piano, analogue synthesiser.
      • Frederick Mercury: Lead and backing vocals, analogue synthesiser, acoustic piano (demo sessions).
      • Roger Taylor: Backing vocals, acoustic drums, analogue synthesiser, timpani.
    • National Philharmonic Orchestra:
      • Howard Blake: Conductor.
      • Sydney Sax: Leader.
  • Studio Crew:
    • Alan Douglas: Chief engineer.
    • Reinhold Mack: Deputy producer, mixing engineer.
    • John Richards: Orchestral engineer.
    • Eric Tomlinson: Orchestral engineer.
  • Technical Crew:
    • Peter Hince: Equipment supervision.
    • Christopher Taylor: Equipment supervision.
    • Brian Zellis: Equipment supervision.

Documented Instruments

  • Electric Basses:
    • Fender Precision: John had three of them, he could've used any, including different ones for different tracks.
    • Kramer DMZ: Spare.
    • Music Man Stingray: Possibly a spare.
  • Electric Guitars:
    • BHM Bespoke: Brian's main.
    • Birch Bespoke: Brian's spare.
    • Fender StratocasterFender Telecaster: John's.
    • Unknown: Used for the solo at the end of 'The Hero'.
  • Keyboards:
    • Oberheim OB-X Analogue Synthesiser.
    • Yamaha C-7 7' 5" Acoustic Piano: 'Football Fight' and 'The Kiss' demos.
    • Unknown Acoustic Piano: 'Flash's Theme' and its reprises.
  • Percussion:
    • Ludwig Bespoke Drums: Roger's main.
    • Ludwig Ringer Timpani.
    • Trixon Drums: Spare, possibly used for some demos.