"They didn't think that men in drag was 'rock' enough," the drummer says in a new video.
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For Queen, dealing with MTV back in the day was a bit of a drag.

The band's envelope-pushing approach to music videos sometimes put them at odds with the network, according to the latest episode of Queen the Greatest, a 50-week YouTube series celebrating the group. Notably, the risqué video for 1982's "Body Language" was the first video to be banned by MTV, but another clip, and the network's response to it, looms even larger in the band's history.

That video is 1984's "I Want to Break Free," which features the members of Queen in drag as female characters from the popular British soap opera Coronation Street. Though well-received in the U.K., the song didn't fare as well on the American charts (it topped out at no. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100), which the surviving members of Queen attribute to MTV's reluctance to air the video.

"MTV were very narrow-minded. It was Whitesnake, f---ing Whitesnake, and then another Whitesnake track," drummer Roger Taylor recalls in the video above. "And they decided they didn't think that men in drag was 'rock' enough, I guess. So they didn't play the video."

It's unclear whether the "I Want to Break Free" video was actually banned outright, but Queen guitarist Brian May has also said that this incident diminished the band's success in the U.S. throughout the 1980s.

"I remember being on the promo tour [for 'I Want to Break Free'] in the Midwest of America and people's faces turning ashen," May recalled on NPR's Fresh Air in 2010. "And they would say, no, we can't play this. We can't possibly play this. You know, it looks homosexual... I know that it really damaged our sort of whole relationship with certainly radio in this country and probably the public as well."

He continued, "That's probably one of the reasons why this sort of hole developed between us and the States, which was really a tragedy because so many of our hits would have fitted very well into the life of the States. But we didn't really get back in there until [1991's] 'The Show Must Go On' and 'These Are the Days of Our Lives.' And even those weren't the hits that they were around the rest of the world."

Still, Queen is remembered for helping to pioneer the music video form we know today, in part thanks to the success of their 1975 promotional video for "Bohemian Rhapsody." For more on the band's groundbreaking videos, check out the full episode of Queen the Greatest above.

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