Time Waits For No One” shows Freddie Mercury at his most compelling; a completely stripped-down performance, accompanied by just a piano, showcasing one of music’s most beloved and show-stopping voices.
For the first time ever, after four decades buried deep in the vaults, this previously unreleased version, originally recorded in 1986 by Freddie Mercury for the concept album of the hit musical Time, has finally emerged after two years of work by the globally successful musician, songwriter and producer Dave Clark, a long-time friend of Freddie’s, using the song’s full title, “Time Waits For No One”.
The song was recorded in January of 1986 at Abbey Road Studios. Starting off as a rhythm track, the session recorded 48 tracks of backing vocals (Freddie plus John Christie and Peter Straker), 2 x 24 track tapes locked together – which had never been done before for that amount of backing vocals at Abbey Road – and the final version of “Time” comprising of a huge production of 96 tracks.
Dave Clark had always remembered that performance of Freddie Mercury at Abbey Road Studios from 1986. The original had sold millions, and in his own words “worked”. But the feeling he had during the original rehearsal, experiencing “goosebumps”, hadn’t dissipated over the decades, and he wanted to hear this original recording – just Freddie on vocals and Mike Moran on piano. After much searching through the vaults to find the version without all the backing vocals, he finally retrieved it from his tape archive in the spring of 2018.
Bringing in original keyboardist Mike Moran to record a new piano track, restoring the huge potential of this historical performance at the latter’s studio in Buckinghamshire, Dave, firmly believing “the impossible was possible”, eventually produced the performance he had longed to revive – stripping back the 96 track version to a version with just one: Freddie Mercury.
The video for the song was filmed in three hours at the Dominion Theatre and was quickly wrapped to allow the musical to prepare for that evening’s performance – it had opened earlier that month with Freddie attending opening night. Worried about capturing the full performance, it was a 4 camera shoot, which was cut together quickly in order to turn it around for that week’s broadcast of the UK’s hit music TV programme Top of the Pops. Going straight to video, not the original 35mm film it was shot in, the song was released on May 6, 1986 and the original footage was consigned to the vaults.
Dave used the negatives from the 4 camera shoot and the unprocessed film to create the video for “Time Waits For No One”. A four-day lockdown in a special facility to pore through the negatives with his editor led to the discovery and production of this visual masterpiece, a perfect representation of Freddie’s “magic performance…he tasted every word”.