How Queen and Toto Rocked the Movie Soundtracks in the 80s

Queen and Toto are two legendary rock bands that have left their mark on the music industry and the pop culture. But did you know that they also produced some of the most memorable movie soundtracks in the 80s? In this blog post, we will explore how Queen and Toto collaborated with filmmakers like David Lynch, Russell Mulcahy, and Mike Hodges to create soundtracks for movies like Dune, Highlander, and Flash Gordon, and why their music still rocks the movie fans today.

The Rise of Queen and Toto in the 70s

Before they became the masters of the movie soundtracks, Queen and Toto were already successful and influential rock bands in the 70s. Queen, formed in London in 1970, consisted of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. They were known for their diverse musical styles, flamboyant stage presence, and powerful vocals. Some of their hit songs in the 70s include Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, and Don't Stop Me Now. They sold over 300 million records worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Toto, formed in Los Angeles in 1976, consisted of David Paich, Steve Lukather, Bobby Kimball, Steve Porcaro, David Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro. They were known for their fusion of rock, pop, jazz, funk, and R&B. Some of their hit songs in the 70s include Hold the Line, I'll Supply the Love, and Georgy Porgy. They sold over 40 million records worldwide and won six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for Toto IV in 1983.

Both Queen and Toto had a strong connection to the movie industry, as some of their members had backgrounds or interests in film and music production. Brian May, the lead guitarist of Queen, had a degree in physics and astronomy and was fascinated by science fiction and fantasy. He also composed and performed the soundtrack for the 1980 movie Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. David Paich, the keyboardist and vocalist of Toto, was the son of Marty Paich, a renowned composer and arranger who worked with artists like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Ella Fitzgerald. He also wrote and performed the soundtrack for the 1978 movie The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

With their musical talent and cinematic vision, Queen and Toto were ready to take on the challenge of creating movie soundtracks in the 80s, a decade that saw the rise of blockbuster films and new technologies. They would soon prove that they could not only rock the stage, but also the silver screen.

How Queen and Toto Got Involved in the Movie Industry

Queen and Toto's involvement in the movie industry was not a coincidence, but a result of their passion, talent, and connections. Both bands had a keen interest in cinema and were eager to expand their musical horizons. They also had some friends and contacts in the film business who helped them land some of the most coveted movie projects in the 80s.

Queen's first foray into the movie industry was in 1980, when they were approached by Mike Hodges, the director of Flash Gordon, a sci-fi adventure film based on the comic strip of the same name. Hodges was a fan of Queen and wanted them to compose and perform the soundtrack for his film. He also gave them a lot of creative freedom and allowed them to watch the film's footage and write songs that matched the mood and the scenes. Queen accepted the offer and created one of their most iconic and experimental soundtracks, featuring a mix of rock, orchestral, and electronic elements. The soundtrack was a huge success and became a classic of the genre. It included songs like Flash's Theme, The Hero, and The Kiss (Aura Resurrects Flash). The soundtrack also featured some of the film's dialogue and sound effects, creating a unique and immersive experience for the listeners.

Toto's first foray into the movie industry was in 1984, when they were contacted by David Lynch, the director of Dune, a sci-fi epic film based on the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. Lynch was looking for a band that could create a futuristic and atmospheric soundtrack for his film. He was impressed by Toto's musical versatility and skills, and decided to hire them for the job. He also collaborated with them closely and gave them some guidance and feedback. Toto accepted the challenge and created one of their most ambitious and complex soundtracks, featuring a blend of rock, symphonic, and ethnic elements. The soundtrack was well-received and became a cult favorite among the fans. It included songs like Dune (Desert Theme), Paul Meets Chani, and Prophecy Theme. The soundtrack also featured some of the film's dialogue and narration, adding more depth and context to the music.

Both Queen and Toto's involvement in the movie industry led them to more opportunities and recognition. They also inspired other rock bands and musicians to venture into the film business and create their own movie soundtracks. Some of the examples are Pink Floyd, who composed the soundtrack for The Wall in 1982, U2, who composed the soundtrack for Rattle and Hum in 1988, and Guns N' Roses, who composed the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991.

The Making of the Dune Soundtrack by Toto

The Dune soundtrack by Toto was one of the most challenging and rewarding projects that the band ever undertook. It required them to create a musical score that matched the epic scale and the exotic atmosphere of the film, which was set in a distant future on a desert planet called Arrakis. The film was based on the acclaimed novel by Frank Herbert, which was considered to be one of the greatest works of science fiction literature. The film was directed by David Lynch, who was known for his visionary and surreal style of filmmaking. The film starred Kyle MacLachlan, Sting, Patrick Stewart, and Max von Sydow, among others.

Toto began working on the soundtrack in 1983, after they finished their tour for their album Toto IV. They rented a studio in Los Angeles and spent several months composing and recording the music. They used a variety of instruments and synthesizers, including guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion, horns, strings, and vocals. They also experimented with different sounds and effects, such as wind, sand, water, and animal noises. They wanted to create a soundtrack that was both futuristic and organic, reflecting the contrast between the advanced technology and the primitive culture of the film's world.

Toto collaborated closely with David Lynch, who gave them his feedback and suggestions. Lynch also provided them with some of the film's footage and scripts, which helped them to visualize the scenes and the characters. Lynch was very supportive and appreciative of Toto's work, and he praised them for their creativity and professionalism. He also invited them to visit the film's set in Mexico, where they met some of the cast and crew. Toto was impressed by the scale and the detail of the film's production, and they felt honored to be part of such a monumental project.

The Dune soundtrack by Toto was completed in 1984, and it consisted of 17 tracks, totaling about 40 minutes of music. The soundtrack was released as an album, along with a single, Prophecy Theme, which was co-written and performed by Brian Eno, another renowned musician and producer. The soundtrack received positive reviews from critics and fans, who praised it for its originality and diversity. The soundtrack also earned Toto a Grammy nomination for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special in 1985.

The Dune soundtrack by Toto was one of the highlights of the band's career, and it showcased their musical talent and versatility. It also established them as one of the leading rock bands in the movie industry, and it opened the door for more opportunities and collaborations. The soundtrack also became a cult classic among the fans of the film and the novel, and it remains one of the most beloved and influential movie soundtracks of all time.

The Making of the Highlander Soundtrack by Queen

The Highlander soundtrack by Queen was one of the most memorable and emotional projects that the band ever worked on. It required them to create a musical score that matched the epic story and the immortal theme of the film, which was about a centuries-old battle between a group of warriors who could only be killed by decapitation. The film was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who was a fan of Queen and had previously directed some of their music videos. The film starred Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, and Roxanne Hart, among others.

Queen started working on the soundtrack in 1985, after they were invited by Russell Mulcahy to watch a rough cut of the film. They were captivated by the film's plot and visuals, and they decided to write songs that would complement and enhance the film's scenes and characters. They used a combination of rock, pop, ballad, and opera styles, and they also incorporated some of the film's dialogue and sound effects into their songs. They wanted to create a soundtrack that was both powerful and emotional, reflecting the struggle and the romance of the film's protagonist, Connor MacLeod.

Queen collaborated closely with Russell Mulcahy, who gave them his input and approval. He also allowed them to choose which scenes they wanted to write songs for, and he edited the film accordingly to fit the music. He was very impressed and grateful for Queen's work, and he considered them to be part of the film's family. He also gave them a cameo appearance in the film, as a group of street performers who play the song Hammer to Fall.

The Highlander soundtrack by Queen was completed in 1986, and it consisted of 12 tracks, totaling about 50 minutes of music. The soundtrack was released as an album, along with a single, A Kind of Magic, which was the main theme of the film. The soundtrack was a huge hit and became one of the best-selling albums of the band. It included songs like Who Wants to Live Forever, Princes of the Universe, One Year of Love, and Gimme the Prize. The soundtrack also won several awards, including the Brit Award for Best British Album in 1987.

The Highlander soundtrack by Queen was one of the highlights of the band's career, and it showed their musical genius and versatility. It also established them as one of the most influential rock bands in the movie industry, and it inspired many other artists and filmmakers to collaborate with them. The soundtrack also became a classic among the fans of the film and the band, and it remains one of the most beloved and powerful movie soundtracks of all time.

The Making of the Flash Gordon Soundtrack by Queen

The Flash Gordon soundtrack by Queen was one of the most fun and adventurous projects that the band ever participated in. It required them to create a musical score that matched the comic book style and the campy humor of the film, which was a sci-fi action film based on the serials of the 1930s. The film was directed by Mike Hodges, who was a fan of Queen and had previously worked with them on the Flash Gordon theme song. The film starred Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, and Timothy Dalton, among others.

Queen began working on the soundtrack in 1980, after they were asked by Mike Hodges to write and perform the entire soundtrack for his film. They were excited by the opportunity and agreed to do it. They watched the film's footage and wrote songs that suited the tone and the mood of the film. They used a mix of rock, pop, and classical styles, and they also incorporated some of the film's dialogue and sound effects into their songs. They wanted to create a soundtrack that was both catchy and quirky, reflecting the charm and the fun of the film's characters and story.

Queen collaborated closely with Mike Hodges, who gave them his approval and support. He also allowed them to experiment and improvise with their music, and he adjusted the film's editing and timing to fit the music. He was very pleased and impressed by Queen's work, and he considered them to be part of the film's team. He also gave them a special credit in the film's opening sequence, which read: "Music by Queen. Orchestrations by Howard Blake."

The Flash Gordon soundtrack by Queen was completed in 1980, and it consisted of 18 tracks, totaling about 35 minutes of music. The soundtrack was released as an album, along with a single, Flash's Theme, which was the main theme of the film. The soundtrack was a big hit and became one of the most popular albums of the band. It included songs like The Hero, Football Fight, Battle Theme, and The Wedding March. The soundtrack also won several awards, including the Saturn Award for Best Music in 1981.

The Flash Gordon soundtrack by Queen was one of the highlights of the band's career, and it showed their musical creativity and humor. It also established them as one of the most versatile and innovative rock bands in the movie industry, and it inspired many other artists and filmmakers to work with them. The soundtrack also became a classic among the fans of the film and the band, and it remains one of the most fun and catchy movie soundtracks of all time.

The Impact and Legacy of Queen and Toto's Movie Soundtracks

Queen and Toto's movie soundtracks have had a lasting impact and legacy on the music and film industry, as well as on the fans and the culture. Their soundtracks have not only enhanced and enriched the films they were made for, but also transcended them and became works of art in their own right. Their soundtracks have also influenced and inspired many other artists and filmmakers, who have followed their footsteps and created their own movie soundtracks.

One of the main impacts and legacies of Queen and Toto's movie soundtracks is that they have demonstrated the power and the potential of rock music in cinema. They have shown that rock music can be versatile and adaptable, and that it can create different moods and atmospheres, from epic and heroic, to romantic and melancholic, to futuristic and exotic. They have also shown that rock music can be integrated and synchronized with the film's visuals and narratives, creating a seamless and immersive experience for the viewers and the listeners. They have also shown that rock music can be original and innovative, and that it can experiment with different styles and genres, such as orchestral, electronic, ethnic, and opera.

Another impact and legacy of Queen and Toto's movie soundtracks is that they have established and popularized the concept and the practice of rock bands creating movie soundtracks. They have shown that rock bands can be more than just performers, but also composers and producers, who can create their own musical vision and expression for the films they work on. They have also shown that rock bands can collaborate and communicate with the filmmakers, and that they can respect and understand the film's vision and theme. They have also shown that rock bands can expand their audience and reach, and that they can appeal to both the fans of the music and the fans of the film.

A third impact and legacy of Queen and Toto's movie soundtracks is that they have created and left behind some of the most memorable and iconic songs and themes in the history of cinema. Their soundtracks have become classics and favorites among the fans and the critics, and they have been recognized and awarded by various institutions and organizations. Their soundtracks have also become part of the pop culture and the collective memory, and they have been referenced and parodied by many other works and media. Their soundtracks have also been covered and remixed by many other artists and musicians, who have paid tribute and homage to their musical genius and legacy.

Other Rock Bands and Musicians Who Created Movie Soundtracks

Queen and Toto were not the only rock bands and musicians who created movie soundtracks in the 80s and beyond. Many other artists followed their example and ventured into the film industry, bringing their own musical style and vision to the cinema. Some of them were already established and famous, while others were new and emerging. Some of them worked on one or a few films, while others became regular and prolific composers. Some of them created original and exclusive songs, while others used existing or adapted songs. Some of them focused on one genre or theme, while others explored different genres and themes. Here are some of the most notable and influential rock bands and musicians who created movie soundtracks after Queen and Toto:

  • Duke Ellington: He was one of the most legendary and influential jazz musicians of all time, and he composed the jazz score for Anatomy of a Murder (1959), a courtroom drama starring James Stewart¹. He used his signature style of swing, blues, and big band, and he also collaborated with Billy Strayhorn, his longtime musical partner. He created a soundtrack that was sophisticated and elegant, and that matched the mood and the tension of the film. He also performed some of the songs himself, along with his orchestra. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture in 1960.
  • Simon & Garfunkel: They were one of the most popular and successful folk rock duos of the 60s and 70s, and they wrote and performed several songs for The Graduate (1967), a comedy-drama about a young man's affair with an older woman². Their songs included "The Sound of Silence", "Scarborough Fair/Canticle", and "Mrs. Robinson", which became a hit and won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1969. They created a soundtrack that was melancholic and nostalgic, and that reflected the alienation and the confusion of the film's protagonist. They also used some of their existing songs, such as "The Sound of Silence", which was released in 1964.
  • Isaac Hayes: He was one of the pioneers and icons of soul and funk music, and he created the funk and soul soundtrack for Shaft (1971), a blaxploitation film about a private detective². His soundtrack included "Theme from Shaft", which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1972. He also performed the song himself, along with his band. He created a soundtrack that was groovy and energetic, and that captured the essence and the attitude of the film's hero. He also used some of his existing songs, such as "Soulsville", which was released in 1971.
  • Phil Collins: He was the lead singer and drummer of the progressive rock band Genesis, and he also had a successful solo career. He composed and sang the songs for Tarzan (1999), an animated film based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs². His songs included "You'll Be in My Heart", which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2000. He also collaborated with Mark Mancina, who composed the instrumental score. He created a soundtrack that was emotional and uplifting, and that expressed the bond and the love between the film's characters. He also used some of his existing songs, such as "Two Worlds", which was released in 1999.
  • Mark Mothersbaugh: He was the lead singer and keyboardist of the new wave band Devo, and he also became a prolific and versatile composer for films, television, and video games. He scored many films by director Wes Anderson, such as The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), and Moonrise Kingdom (2012)². He used a variety of styles and genres, such as rock, pop, classical, and electronic, and he also incorporated some of the film's dialogue and sound effects into his music. He created soundtracks that were quirky and whimsical, and that matched the aesthetic and the humor of the film's director. He also used some of his existing songs, such as "Gut Feeling", which was released in 1978.

These are just some of the examples of the rock bands and musicians who created movie soundtracks after Queen and Toto. There are many more artists who have contributed to the film industry with their music, and who have enriched and diversified the cinematic experience. Their soundtracks have become classics and favorites among the fans and the critics, and they have been recognized and awarded by various institutions and organizations. Their soundtracks have also become part of the pop culture and the collective memory, and they have been referenced and parodied by many other works and media. Their soundtracks have also been covered and remixed by many other artists and musicians, who have paid tribute and homage to their musical impact and legacy.

Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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