Roger Taylor admits Queen's infamous South Africa performance was a mistake

Publish Date
Wednesday, 29 December 2021, 11:02PM

Roger Taylor has a new perspective on Queen's infamous 1984 show in South Africa. During a recent interview, the Queen drummer looked back on the band's decision to perform in Sun City amid a widespread cultural boycott of South Africa during apartheid. Though Queen aimed to refrain from making any sort of political statement with their music, the decision to perform in Sun City left them in the middle of the fight to end apartheid.

"That wasn’t something we really did as a band. It was a conscious choice" Taylor explained to Classic Rock. "Right at the start – and you’ve got to remember that there was a lot of hardcore political stuff going on in the ‘70s – Freddie [Mercury] said, ‘Look, I don’t want to get involved in all that. I want to go round the world playing songs that people can enjoy."

“Oh s—t, did we get grief for that,” Taylor said of their decision to play the Sun City show. “Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow. They didn’t get any stick, but we did."

"We went with the best possible intentions, actually," he continued. "We didn’t make any money out of it. I remember Brian [May] went to award some of the prizes at the Soweto festival. We went with the best intentions, but I still think it was kind of a mistake.”

Queen faced criticism from the United Nations and UK Musicians Union for visiting South Africa amid the cultural boycott. They were also called out by the super group Artists United Against Apartheid, which featured Steven Van Zandt, Pat Benatar, Ringo Starr, and many more, on their 1985 hit single Sun City.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission