The iconic group now perform live shows with Adam Lambert, and are set to travel the world on their huge Rhapsody Tour later this year into 2020.
But for a long time, May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon thought their days together were over.
Speaking in the US documentary The Show Must Go On, May said: “With Freddie’s death, we just thought it was all over.
“We hadn’t planned on ever playing again.”
He added: “We talked about it, ‘if one of us goes we should stop’. And we did stop for a very long time.
“We didn’t have the desire to go on without Freddie.”
As the 1990s progressed, the group slowly began coming back together, mainly in tribute to Mercury – firstly to release a record of previously unheard material from before his passing, and then for a series of other one-off appearances.
But May described the period before that as “a sort of grieving process”.
He said: “Like, ‘we don’t want to talk about Queen, we don’t want to be Queen – we’ve done that, we want to be ourselves now.’
“‘Now we go off and do our separate things that perhaps we’d been dreaming of’.
“Roger had always done lots of solo projects so he went back into that. I hadn’t done a lot of solo stuff but i went out and sang.”
Taylor said: “After Freddie died, I took a year to want to start doing things.”
Recently May indicated that Queen will bring the Rhapsody Tour to the UK (it’s not currently scheduled to come here), but seemed to imply that it will be one of their last dates as a group.
“I’m hoping we will [come to the UK] – [there’s been] no announcement,” he told Zoe Ball on BBC Radio 2.
“One more before we pop off, is my theory.”