It's Late

"It's Late" is a song written by Queen guitarist Brian May and performed by the band for their 1977 album, News of the World.[2][3][4][5][6]

"It's Late"
Artwork for US release
Single by Queen
from the album News of the World
B-side"Sheer Heart Attack"
Released25 April 1978 (1978-04-25)
Length6:22 (album version)
  • 3:52 (single version)
Songwriter(s)Brian May
Queen singles chronology
"Spread Your Wings"
"It's Late"
"Bicycle Race" / "Fat Bottomed Girls"
Music video
"It's Late" on YouTube


The song was May's idea of treating a song as a three-act theatrical play, and the verses are called "acts" in the lyrics sheet. It makes use of the tapping technique a few months before Eddie Van Halen's use of the tapping technique on the Van Halen album. May told Guitar Player Magazine that his use of the tapping technique was inspired by Texas guitarist Rocky Athas, after seeing one of his performances at Mother Blues, a Dallas club.[7]

The lyrics describe a love affair that is on the verge of ending.[8]

According to Billboard Magazine, the music of the single version "shifts gear from subdued balladry to thunderous rock'n'roll."[9]


The song was released as a single in the US in 1978, albeit in heavily edited form, and peaked at #74 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[10] and #66 on the Cash Box Top 100.[11] The song was later included on the Queen Rocks compilation in 1997.



  1. ^ Editor, By Denis House Managing. "The Show Must Go On". The Sentinel-Echo. Retrieved 12 February 2021.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Epstein, Dan (28 October 2017). "Queen's 'News of the World': 10 Things You Didn't Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Queen - News Of The World". Discogs. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  4. ^ Bell, Max (28 October 2019). "'News Of The World': Making Headlines Around The Globe For Queen". uDiscover Music. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  5. ^ Testa, Bart (9 February 1978). "News Of The World". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  6. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (28 October 2015). "Why Queen Scaled Things Back on 'News of the World'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Electric & Acoustic Guitar Gear, Lessons, News, Blogs, Video, Tabs & Chords". 28 June 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  8. ^ Guarisco, D.A. "It's Late". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. 29 April 1978. p. 80. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002
  11. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 6/03/78". 3 June 1978. Retrieved 27 July 2016.

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