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QueenFew bands embodied the pure excess of the '70s like Queen. Embracing the exaggerated pomp of prog-rock and heavy metal, as well as vaudevillian music-hall, the British quartet delved deeply into camp and bombast, creating a huge, mock-operatic sound with layered guitars and overdubbed vocals. Queen's music was a bizarre yet highly accessible fusion of the macho and the fey. For years, their albums boasted the motto "no synthesizers were used on this record," signaling their allegiance with the legions of post-Led Zeppelin hard rock bands. But vocalist Freddie Mercury brought an extravagant sense of camp to the band, pushing them towards kitschy humor and pseudo-classical arrangements, as epitomized on their best-known song, "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Queen is a British rock band which was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. The group is well known for its sports anthems and classic rock radio staples, particularly the hits "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody;" the band promoted the latter, first released in 1975, with one of the earliest successful music videos, and later re-released it for the soundtrack album from the movie Wayne's World. Queen are widely recognized as pioneers of heavy metal, glam rock, and stadium rock.
The beginnings of Queen can be traced to 1968, when Brian May and Roger Taylor formed the trio Smile, at Imperial College, London, where they were both students. After the group's bassist and lead singer Tim Staffell departed in the spring of 1970, May and Taylor took on vocalist Freddie Mercury in April 1970 to form Queen. In 1971 John Deacon completed the lineup as bass guitarist.
Freddie Mercury, vocals ("Bohemian Rhapsody")
Brian May, guitars ("We Will Rock You")
Roger Taylor, drums & percussion ("Radio Ga Ga")
John Deacon, bass guitar ("Another One Bites the Dust")
Most of the group's albums contained at least one song written by each member, and though Mercury penned a lot of Queen's hits, he was by no means the dominant songwriter; indeed, the group considered themselves creative equals, and quiet bassist John Deacon wrote one of their biggest hits, "Another One Bites the Dust." In their later years, two or three or even all four band members commonly contributed to individual songs; after arguments over the attribution of these cooperative efforts, the band agreed to simply credit "Queen" rather than single members (from The Miracle onwards).
Brian May and Roger Taylor were playing on a band called Smile with bass player/singer Tim Staffell. Freddie was Tim's roommate in Ealing Arts College and followed Smile's rehearsals and concerts closely. At that time Freddie was a singer in other bands, such as Wreckage and Ibex. Still, he was very eager to share his ideas in which musical direction Smile should develop. At some point Tim Staffell decided Smile was not going anywhere and he decided to join a band called Humpy Bong. Freddie quickly stepped in for Tim and they started to search for a bass player. One of the first was Barry Mitchell. It was not until 1972 that they found John Deacon and started to rehearse for the first album, Queen.
In 1973 Queen released their first album, a self-titled effort. It drew little attention, but succeeded in giving the band an FM radio anthem "Keep Yourself Alive." In hindsight, it's considered to be a strong first album. 1974 saw two releases; the first being of Queen II, which had the hit "Seven Seas of Rhye" on it. The album was highly experimental, so it garnered little mainstream attention, but the single got them on to the charts in Britain.
Later that same year, Sheer Heart Attack was released. The album was huge in the UK and throughout Europe; it went gold in the United States. Considered one of their very greatest efforts, Queen made a surprisingly cohesive album with a wide variety of different types of music; British music hall to heavy metal tunes like "Stone Cold Crazy" (which Metallica would later cover and earn a Grammy for) and "Now I'm Here" (a live concert favorite); ballads ("Lily of the Valley"), ragtime ("Bring Back That Leroy Brown"), even Caribbean ("Misfire")
The standout track was "Killer Queen" a British Top Ten and hitting number 11 in the U.S... It combined campy, vaudeville British music hall with Led Zeppelin-like sound and Brian May's virtuosity on the guitar.
If Sheer Heart Attack's blend of eclectic styles and heavy-metal was considered to be gamut-running, their 1975 effort A Night At The Opera was all-encompassing. Considered by many to be their greatest effort (some call it Queen's Led Zeppelin IV), this is the album that featured the huge worldwide hit, "Bohemian Rhapsody." "Bohemian Rhapsody" was number one in the UK for nine weeks, breaking the record set by Paul Anka's "Diana." It reached number 9 in the U.S.; when it was re-released in 1992, it reached number one in the UK again, and hit number 2 in America. The album also featured "You're My Best Friend" (which peaked at 14 on the U.S. charts), a sweet, pure pop gem that was unlike anything Queen had ever done to that point. "I'm In Love With My Car" was a hard-rock tune, written and sung by drummer Roger Taylor, which is currently being used in Lexus commercials.
The album was a smash in Britain, and went three times platinum in America. It was official; Queen had hit the popular music scene.
Back in the studio and unable to really top A Night At The Opera in sales or quality, Queen recorded what essentially was a companion album, A Day At The Races, also in keeping with the Marx Brothers' movie theme for the title. The cover was the same as Opera's, only with the colors inverted. Plans were made to eventually release the two together as a package, but those plans never came to fruition.
The album was done very much in the vein of Opera musically as well. Although it was by both fans' and critics' standards superb, it was unable to eclipse its predecessor, and thus as a result has been somewhat overrated.
All Events by Date
|Queen & Adam Lambert||Aug 27, 2014
Sydney, New South Wales
Artist Biography - QueenThe standout tracks were "Somebody to Love" and "Tie Your Mother Down." "Somebody" was an incredible rock ballad, on which Freddie Mercury mulitracked his voice to make a 100-voice gospel choir. Staying true to their guitar-driven style, it was filled with Brian May's virtuoso harmony, and it went to number 11 on the U.S. singles chart and number 2 on the U.K. charts. "Tie Your Mother Down" was a typical Queen hard-rocker that produced a very recognizable riff and displayed Queen's trademark sense of humor.
1977 saw the release of News of the World, an album that was critically panned at the time but has gained recognition over time. This album had more of a sonic punch to it, as well as songs that were tailor-made to be performed (and subsequently have their greatest effect) live. This album produced the anthemic "We Will Rock You" and the famous rock ballad "We Are The Champions", as well as the punchy, near-punk sound of "Sheer Heart Attack" (not to be confused with the album of the same name released three years earlier).
In 1978 the band released the Jazz album, including the hit singles "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Race", being a double-A-side single. The album cover was inspired by a painting on the Berlin wall. Important tracks of the album were "Dead on Time", "Let Me Entertain You" or "Mustapha", a song by Freddie, which had a very Arabian sound combined with heavy rock guitar.
In 1986, Queen went on a sold-out final tour, which culminated at Wembley Stadium in London. Freddie teased the capacity crowd of 89,000 that Queen might be breaking up, only to tell the crowd that it was just a silly rumor, and that Queen would be together until "we fucking well die, I'm sure!" much to the delight of the crowd. It is rumored that Freddie contracted AIDS that year as well. On this tour, Queen performed for the last time together. They couldn't book Wembley for a third night because it was already booked, but they managed to get Knebworth Park. It sold out within 2 hours, and over 120,000 fans packed the park to get a glimpse of Queen one last time live.
In 1991, rumors started spreading that Freddie Mercury was suffering from AIDS. Even tabloids worldwide got in on the news. Mercury flatly denied these rumors, but knowing the actual truth as his other band mates did, they decided to make an album free of conflict and differences. That album became Innuendo. Although his health began to deteriorate, Mercury was courageous in handling his contributions. Highlights of the album were the anthems "The Show Must Go On" and "These Are The Days Of Our Lives".
On November 23, 1991, in a prepared statement made on his deathbed, Freddie Mercury finally acknowledged he had AIDS. Within 12 hours of the announcement, Mercury was dead at the age of 45. His funeral services were private, held in accordance with the Zoroastrian religious faith of his family. On April 20, 1992, the public shared in the mourning of Mercury's passing at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held at London's Wembley Stadium in Mercury's honor. Musicians such as Annie Lennox, Guns n' Roses, Def Leppard, Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Metallica and Liza Minnelli (along with the three surviving members of Queen) performed most of Queen's major hits.
Queen never actually disbanded, although their last album of original material (not including compilations) was released in 1995, titled Made In Heaven, put out four years after Freddie Mercury's death, and constructed from Freddie's final recording sessions in 1991, plus material leftover from their previous studio albums. The band still appear from time to time, minus bassist John Deacon (who's few public appearances are normally to pour cold water on any rumors of a Queen get-together) making "Queen & ..." projects with various guest musicians. A tribute album has appeared, but not with musicians of note. The album is entitled "Dragon Attack" after one of Queen's earlier recordings.
At the end of 2004, it was announced that Queen will reunite and return to touring in 2005, with Paul Rodgers (founder and former lead singer of Free and Bad Company) who will be singing in Freddie Mercury's place, as front man, but will not be in the band as Brian May has announced recently to the Queen fan club, that Paul Rodgers will be "featured with" Queen, not replacing the late Freddie Mercury. This would be the first time since the release of the album Made In Heaven that the three surviving original Queen members have performed in concert.
Queen is remembered for its never-seen-before theatrics, showmanship, camp and bombast so much that critics have since classified the band as a major player in the evolution of rock music. Queen is noted in particular for its musical eclecticism and groundbreaking live shows. Queen is credited by artists like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Guns n' Roses, Def Leppard, Trent Reznor, George Michael, Metallica, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The Darkness as having a major influence on their sound.
Under the supervision of Brian May, numerous restoration projects have been underway involving Queen's lengthy audio and video catalogue. DVD releases of their famous 1986 Wembley concert (titled Live At Wembley Stadium) and 1982 Milton Keynes concert, and two Greatest Video Hits (Volumes 1 and 2, spanning the 70's and 80's) have seen the band's music remixed into 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound. So far, two of Queen's most acclaimed albums, A Night At The Opera and The Game, have been fully remixed into DTS Surround on DVD-Audio albums. Known for their densely layered arrangements and backing, this medium seems tailor-made for Queen's music. Brian May has said he would like to see the entire Queen catalogue reproduced in this format, as it is closer to what the band envisaged for their work years ago.
The Queen camp continues to work on future concert releases, at least one more video collection (Volume 3) and the rest of album catalogue in the DVD-Audio format. True to form, Taylor and May are in constant communication with fans, collectors and industry experts to find out where demand lies for future releases and where the industry and new technology is headed.
Queen's live performances were truly groundbreaking, employing massive lighting rigs, pyrotechnics, and other special effects to make their shows into engaging theatrical events. Along with their contemporaries KISS, they changed live concerts forever from the staid, stodgy events that had prevailed since the time of the Beatles, where performers would merely stand around and play their instruments. The energy with which they performed, the excitement, enthusiasm and pure adrenaline Freddie Mercury brought with his vocal performance, was so natural and so genuine that the audience almost always joined in and sang. Mercury immersed himself in the crowd's adulation and thrived off their excitement, a trait for which many, including Kurt Cobain (in his suicide note), have expressed admiration. Beginning with "News Of The World" in 1977, Queen began to write songs with the specific purpose of involving the crowd, like "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions," and tailored some songs, like "Radio Ga Ga" to involve claps. This resulted in a stunning moment at Live Aid at which almost 100,000 people at Wembley Stadium clapped their hands over their head in unison to "Radio Ga-Ga."
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