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Queen Keep Yourself Alive guitar cover with on screen guitar tab

The Live Killers version is tuned up half a step

“Keep Yourself Alive” is a song by British rock band Queen. Written by guitarist Brian May, it is the opening track on the band’s debut album Queen (1973). It was released as Queen’s first single along with “Son and Daughter” as the B-side. “Keep Yourself Alive” was largely ignored upon its release and failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic.

In 2008, Rolling Stone rated the song thirty-first on its list of “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”

The newly formed Queen quickly added “Keep Yourself Alive” to their live set. Mercury commented that the song “was a very good way of telling people what Queen was about in those days” (RAM, 21 May 1976, p 17). Indeed, the number included a drum solo by Taylor and one line sung/spoken by him.

“Keep Yourself Alive” was part of the band’s live set until the early 1980s. On the 1980 and 1981 tours, the band would play an improvisational jam before the start of the song then after the drum solo, it would morph into Taylor’s tympani drum solo followed by May’s echo-plexed guitar solo spot before either segueing into the “Brighton Rock” finale or a drum and guitar climax or segued into a Flash Gordon medley (which consisted of “Battle Theme”/”Flash’s Theme”/”The Hero”). The band would not play it again until 1984 on The Works tour as part of a medley of old songs (with “Somebody to Love”, “Killer Queen”, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, and “Liar”).

In live performances, Mercury would often sing the line “all you people keep yourself alive” (which is sung only two times in the studio version) in place of the more-repeated line “it’ll take you all your time and a money honey you’ll survive”. This choice was likely made in favor of the easier phrasing and fewer syllables of the former.

played by James Rundle of Rock Licks Guitar Tuition in South Shields

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