The Show Must Go On
The Show Must Go On
Single by Queen from Innuendo
Released 14 October 1991 (UK)
6 February 1992
Recorded 1990
Length 4:31
Genre Hard rock
Label Parlophone (Europe)
Hollywood Records (US)
Writer Brian May
Musicians Freddie Mercury - lead vocals
Brian May - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
John Deacon - bass guitar
Roger Taylor - drums backing vocals
Producer(s) Queen and David Richards

Single Chronology
Last single Headlong 1991
This single The Show Must Go On 1991
Next single Bohemian Rhapsody/These Are The Days of Our Lives 1991
Last track Bijou
This track The Show Must Go On
Next track N/A

The Show Must Go On is a song by Queen and it featured as the twelfth and final track on their 1991 album Innuendo. It is credited to Queen, though was written by May and Mercury. The song tells the effort of Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life. The title is derived from the phrase "the show must go on", and may be in reaction to the numerous press speculations about lead singer Mercury's critically declining health since the late 1980s. Much of the lyrics and imagery of the song can also be construed to be a reflection on life and imminent death. It is regarded as one of Queen's most emotive, powerful and saddest songs by many fans. It was released as a single in the United Kingdom on 14 October 1991 in promotion for the Greatest Hits II album, just six weeks before Mercury died. Following Mercury's death in November 1991, the song re-entered the British charts and spent longer in the top 75 than it did on its original release, eventually reaching a peak of 16. A live version with Elton John on vocals appeared on Queen's Greatest Hits III album. The song was chosen as the favourite funeral song in a survey conducted in Europe.

Writing and RecordingEdit

After listening to John Deacon and Roger Taylor playing the chord sequence that later on would be the basis for almost the entire song, Brian May sat down with Freddie Mercury and the two of them decided the theme of the song and wrote some lyrics. May wrote down the rest of the words as well as the melody, and put a bridge with chord sequence inspired by Pachelbel's Canon. Demo versions featured May singing, having to sing some parts in falsetto because they were too high. When Brian May presented the final demo to Mercury, he had doubts that Mercury would be physically capable of singing the song's highly demanding vocal line, due to the extent of his illness at the time. To May's surprise, when the time came to record the vocals, Mercury consumed a measure of vodka and said "I'll fucking do it darling!" then proceeded to nail the vocal line in one take without problems. To this day, Brian May regards this vocal performance as one of Mercury's best. For the record, May sang most of the backing vocals (including the very last line) and played Yamaha DX7 synthesiser as well as guitar. Producer David Richards suggested the key-shift in the third verse.


Due to Mercury's deteriorating health at the time, no new footage of the lead singer could be shot. With the song released within just a few weeks of his death, shots of Freddie Mercury instead had to be salvaged from previous videos. The video was conceived and released as a montage of clips spanning Queen’s music video career from 1981 to 1991. During the section of the video where a number of masks appear sequentially, one of the masks is of a Roboto, from the music video of "Mr. Roboto" by Styx. The music video was compiled and edited by Austrian director team DoRo, consisting of Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher.


Chart (1991-92) Peak position
Australia (ARIA) 75
Belgium (Ultratop) 22
France (SNEP) 2
Germany (Official German Charts) 7
Ireland (IRMA) 17
Italy (Musica e dischi) 5
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 7
Netherlands (Single Top 40) 6
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 20
Sweden (Topplistan) 30
Switzerland (Swiss Hitparade) 11
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 16


The Single version of The Show Must Go On was released in the UK, the US, Germany, Italy, France and Australia and was available on cassette, 7", 12" and CD. There was various other tracks alongside it, depending on format and country.

Appears onEdit

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