Home » “Queen and Freddie Mercury’s Encounter with George Lucas’ Cease and Desist Letter”

“Queen and Freddie Mercury’s Encounter with George Lucas’ Cease and Desist Letter”

In the wake of its 1977 debut, ‘Star Wars’ swiftly rose to prominence, extending its influence into various forms of media through diverse references. Surprisingly, the franchise even found its way into the lyrics of a Queen song in 1978.

The contentious line “I don’t like ‘Star Wars'” from the song ‘Bicycle Race’ sparked conversations during that era, with some asserting that Freddie Mercury may have embedded his personal sentiments into the track. Speculations surrounding the matter gained momentum as a dispute unfolded between the band and the creator of the franchise, George Lucas, in the subsequent years.

Perched on the Shoulders of Darth Vader

In select concerts from 1979 to 1980, Freddie Mercury made a striking appearance on stage donning a ‘Flash Gordon’ shirt, perched atop the shoulders of an individual dressed as Darth Vader. This spectacle fueled rumors among fans, given that ‘Flash Gordon’ was considered a rival to ‘Star Wars’ during that period.

Interestingly, George Lucas conceived ‘Star Wars’ after facing rejection from the producers of the 1980 film ‘Flash Gordon.’ This context led many to interpret Mercury’s on-stage antics with Darth Vader as a symbolic gesture, suggesting his preference for ‘Flash Gordon’ over the director’s work in ‘Star Wars.’

Responses to the Performance

In the 1980s, the audience wholeheartedly embraced Freddie Mercury’s collaboration with the character. Photographer Tom Callins, the individual behind the iconic image of Mercury atop Darth Vader’s shoulders, shared with The A.V. Club that the crowd found the act “so funny, so Freddie.” However, this sentiment wasn’t shared by George Lucas.

According to the book ‘Is This The Real Life?: The Untold Story Of Queen,’ Lucas took issue with Queen’s use of Darth Vader in their concerts and took action by sending a cease-and-desist letter. In response, the band discontinued featuring the character in their performances.

An Ongoing Dispute

In subsequent years, at the premiere of the fourth ‘Star Wars’ installment, ‘The Phantom Menace,’ Brian May attempted to extend congratulations to Lucas. However, the director appeared disinterested, walking by without acknowledging May.

This incident led some to speculate that the feud between Queen and the director endured even after Freddie Mercury’s passing. Rumors circulated in the media, suggesting the late vocalist harbored animosity toward ‘Star Wars.’ However, Brian May later clarified the situation, dispelling any misconceptions surrounding Mercury’s alleged disdain for the franchise.

Freddie Mercury’s Perspective on ‘Star Wars

In a discussion about ‘Bicycle Race’ during an interview, May clarified that the song did not mirror Freddie Mercury’s personal life and perspectives. Contrary to the lyrics, May disclosed that Mercury was, in fact, a fan of George Lucas’ franchise.

Additionally, observers highlighted Mercury’s on-stage collaborations with characters such as Superman and Santa Claus during Queen performances. This led to the interpretation that Mercury’s inclusion of Darth Vader in concerts was more about theatrical flair than conveying a specific message about ‘Star Wars.

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