“Love of My Life” is a song by the British rock band Queen from their 1975 album A Night at the Opera. The ballad was written by Freddie Mercury about Mary Austin, with whom he had a long-term relationship in the early 1970s. After performing the song in South America in 1981, the version from their live album Live Killers reached number 1 in the singles chart in Argentina and Brazil and stayed in the charts in Argentina for an entire year.
Freddie Mercury wrote it on the piano and guitar first, and Brian May rearranged the song for an acoustic 12-string guitar for live performances, also lowering the key by a minor third. May contributed occasional guitar phrases to the original recording and played the swooping harp glissandos by pasting together multiple takes of single chords. The song is an example of Mercury’s familiarity with rubato phrasing, showcasing his classical piano influences, notably by Chopin and Beethoven.
With its similar lyrical theme, the Roger Taylor penned single “These Are the Days of Our Lives” would later hearken back to “Love of My Life”, twice using the line “I still love you”. At the end of “These Are the Days of Our Lives”, Mercury simply speaks those words, as he would often do in live versions of “Love of My Life”.
During the voyage of the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107), Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, asked to play the song. The song was played in the shuttle and Ramon said: “A special good morning to my wife, Rona, the love of my life.” Ramon died in the Columbia disaster shortly thereafter, during its return to the atmosphere in 2003.
Introduced during the News of the World Tour in 1977, “Love of My Life” was such a concert favorite that Mercury frequently stopped singing and allowed the audience to take over. It was especially well received during concerts in South America, and resultantly the band released the Live Killers version of the song as a single there.
After Mercury’s death, Brian May has frequently dedicated the song to him in his own live performances. A notable exception is the Sheffield show which yielded the Return of the Champions CD and DVD. At that show, May announced that Mercury’s mother was at the show and he dedicated the song to her instead. In the Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour, May would sing a few lines of the song, then let the audience take over for every verse, as Mercury did. When played at the Glasgow SECC in the 2008 Cosmos Rocks tour, May dedicated the song to his recently deceased mother.
During Rock in Rio 6 in 2015, Queen + Adam Lambert was one of the artists to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary. “Love of My Life” had both May singing a few lines and archive footage of Mercury performing the song during the inaugural Wembley concert in 1986.