Tie Your Mother Down

"Tie Your Mother Down" is a song by the British rock band Queen, written by lead guitarist Brian May. It is the opening track and the second single from their 1976 album A Day at the Races. On its original release as a single in 1977 the song peaked at 31 in the UK Singles Chart. More than 20 years later, it was released as a double a-side to "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)" where it reached 13 in UK Singles Chart. On the album the song is preceded by a one-minute instrumental intro featuring a Shepard tone melody, performed by Brian May, which is reprised in the ending of "Teo Torriatte": this was intended to create a "circle" within the album.

"Tie Your Mother Down"
Queen Tie Your Mother Down.png
Single by Queen
from the album A Day at the Races
Released4 March 1977
GenreHard rock[1]
  • 4:48 (Album version)
  • 3:45 (Single edit)
  • 4:00 (Air guitar version)
LabelEMI (UK)
Elektra (US)
Songwriter(s)Brian May
Queen singles chronology
"Somebody to Love"
"Tie Your Mother Down"
"Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)"

After its release in 1976, it was played by Queen on every subsequent tour.[2] At the 1992 The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, the song was co-performed by Queen and guests Joe Elliott and Slash.[3] On several occasions in recent years, Brian May and Roger Taylor have played the song live with the Foo Fighters, including performances at Queen's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2001, and the VH1 Rock Honors in 2006.


Brian May started writing the song in Tenerife, while he was working for his Ph.D. as an astrophysicist. He composed the riff on a Spanish guitar, and woke up one morning and played it while singing "tie your mother down," a line he considered a joke. Vocalist Freddie Mercury encouraged him to keep the line. "Tie Your Mother Down" opens with an ultra-heavy, stripped down guitar riff.[4]

A promotional film was made for the song, directed by Bruce Gowers, based on a performance clip shot at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York in February 1977 during the band's US arena headlining tour.[5]

Though it was a long-time live favourite and a US FM rock radio favourite, the song had limited chart success, making #31 in the UK and #49 in the US. Therefore, it was included on the band's first Greatest Hits compilation in certain markets only; however, the song is featured on the Queen Rocks compilation album, together with some of the band's heaviest songs.[6]

In a BBC Radio 4 tribute program to Rory Gallagher, May stated that a key inspiration for the riff of this song came from Taste's "Morning Sun" from their On the Boards (1970) album.

Queen comments on the songEdit

Well this one in fact is a track written by Brian actually, I dunno why. Maybe he was in one of his vicious moods. I think he's trying to outdo me after "Death on Two Legs" actually.[7]

— Freddie Mercury

I'll tell you the truth, I know what happened. Sometimes you get a little riff, and you just put some words with it, and then you don't even think about what they mean. Now I'm remember thinking, now this isn't a good enough title for this song, but everyone said: 'Well actually, it sounds okay,' and so we kind of lyrically built it around that. That's the truth, folks.

— Brian May