In a recently-unveiled interview from the Classic Rock Magazine archives, Brian May remembered the situation Queen were in before they skyrocketed with their fourth studio album – 1975’s “A Night at the Opera” and its lead single “Bohemian Rhapsody” – saying:
“Business-wise, we were in crisis. We’d had a lot of success but we were in a management situation that seemed to have no light at the end of the tunnel.
“We weren’t getting any of our royalties and although money isn’t everything, it’s not good to feel you’re in what you perceive to be a slave-labour situation.
“So ‘A Night at the Opera’ really was make or break in that sense. John Reid, who’d just taken over our management, said that he’d take over the business side and that we should go away and make the best album we’ve ever made!
“But there was that feeling that if it didn’t succeed we’d always be in the red, so we were fortunate that we did make the album of our lives… and I think it is, really.
“It was certainly quite a leap. I don’t think we realized at the time, though; it was all a natural progression.
“Stylistically I think it’s closer to [1974’s] ‘Queen II‘ than [1974’s] ‘Sheer Heart Attack‘ as we deliberately made the latter album compressed and very slick, while ‘A Night at the Opera’ was really going back to: ‘This is our canvas, we will paint on it at our leisure.’ Which was the philosophy behind ‘Queen II.'”