Connor MacLeod boasts of his immortal status. “He’s a kind of magic,” he says about it. Roger Taylor, Queen’s drummer, really liked the line of dialogue, and based on it, he composed the song that would also give his band’s next album its name: “A Kind of Magic”.
Played by Christopher Lambert, Connor Mac Leod is the main character in the 1986 film “Highlander” (The Immortal), along with Juan Sánchez Villalobos Ramírez, played by Sean Connery. Queen had been summoned to compose the music for the film, at the request of its director Russell Mulcahy; and the band, who had planned to take a break after the extensive, intense and, above all, very successful world tour to promote The Works album and the no less legendary, intense and very successful presentation at Live Aid on July 13, 1985, at Wembley, he went to work.
In September, just two months after that massive and consecration presentation, Queen began their recording work. The musicians had the opportunity to see a fragment of the film before beginning the arduous task of composing. In addition to the phrase taken by Taylor to develop the idea of the theme that would give the album its name, guitarist Brian May took the death of Heather, one of the characters in the film, as inspiration to compose “Who Wants To Live Forever”.
“A Kind of Magic”, the theme, has two versions. One, the one that appears in the film, is the version of Roger Taylor, author of the melody and chords. With the drummer on vacation, Mercury, who hadn’t finished closing his partner’s version, got involved: added a new base, some instrumental spaces and made new arrangements in the structure, among them, the legendary snap of fingers that was listen in the intro of the song and that correspond to the powerful fingers of Chris Rea. This version with Mercury’s arrangements is the one that was included on the album and, therefore, the best known. Roger Taylor didn’t like that she did it in his absence; however, his name is the one that appears in the credits.
Although it was not the official soundtrack of “Highlander”, six of the nine songs from the album appear in the film: “A Kind of Magic”, “Princes of the Universe”, “Who wants to Live for ever”, “One Year of Love”, “Gimme the Prize” and “Don’t Loose Your Head”. The hit “One Vision” ended up on the soundtrack of another 1986 film: “Iron Eagle.” The other two songs on the album are nothing less than the hit “Friends Will Be Friends” and “Pain So Close To Pleasure”.
Recorded between September 1985 and April 1986, in three different studios, Town House” in London, Musicland in Munich and Mountain Studios in Montreaux, “A Kind of Magic”, the album, was released on June 2 of that year. Just five days later the band embarked on what was to be the last tour with Freddie Mercury. Its final point will be the impressive Knebworth show, on August 9, before 120 thousand people. That would be the last concert of Freddie Mercury, affected by HIV.