Worth mentioning is Max Von Sydow’s memorable performance as Ming the Merciless. What can you say about a guy who in previous roles played chess with death (“The Seventh Seal”), confronted Satan personified (“The Exorcist”), and as Jesus was betrayed by David McCallum’s Judas (“The Greatest Story Ever Told”). Although he has been known for some of his major roles on the side of good, he equally performs well on the other side as Ming.
Besides bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor, Brian May plays all of the other instruments. One of the sounds found on this song is the low piano range. May chose a 97-key Bösendorfer piano for the extra range of sound. Of course you also hear May’s homemade “Red Special” octave guitar licks. We would be remiss by not mentioning the vocals by Freddie Mercury with help from May and Taylor.
While the song missed the Top 50 charts in the US charting at #42, it was at least a top 20 record in most countries and a top 10 hit in the UK and Ireland and #1 in Austria. The single was released in 1981.