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QUEEN

Queen are a seminal English rock band, formed in 1970 in London by John Deacon, Brian May, Freddie Mercury, and Roger Taylor. Britain's most successful band of the past three decades,the band rose to prominence during the mid-to-late 1970s and still retain a large international fan base.

The band are noted for their musical diversity, lush multi-layered arrangements, vocal harmonies and incorporation of audience participation into their live performances. They are regarded as one of the most accomplished acts both in the studio and on stage.

The band had moderate success in the early 1970s, with the albums Queen and Queen II, but it wasn't until 1974 with the release of Sheer Heart Attack that the band gained international success. From that album forward, all of the band's studio albums reached number one on numerous charts around the world. Since 1973, they have released fifteen studio albums, five live albums, and eight compilation albums and have sold more than 300 million records worldwide,including more than 35.5 million albums in the United States alone (as of 2004).

Following Mercury's death and Deacon's retirement in the 1990s,May and Taylor are currently collaborating with Paul Rodgers under the moniker Queen + Paul Rodgers.

 

 

Queen ,  May, Taylor, Mercury, Deacon
Queen, 1974. Clockwise from top: May, Taylor, Mercury, Deacon.
Background information >
Origin London ,England
Genre(s) Hard Rock Progressive Rock various others
Years active 1970 – present
Label(s) Parlophone, Hollywood
Members >
Brian May
Roger Taylor
Former members >
John Deacon (retired)
Freddie Mercury (deceased)
 
History >
Early years (1968-1974) >

In 1968, guitarist Brian May, a student at London's Imperial College, and bassist Tim Staffell formed a group when May placed an advertisement on the college notice board for a "Ginger Baker type" drummer, and a young medical student named Roger Taylor auditioned and got the job. They called the group Smile. Smile were signed to Mercury Records in 1969, and had their first experience of a recording studio in Trident Studios that year. Staffell was attending Ealing Art College with Farrokh Bulsara (later known as Freddie Mercury), and introduced him to the band. Bulsara soon became a keen fan. When Staffell left Smile in 1970 to join another band, Humpy Bong, Smile effectively disbanded. Bulsara persuaded May and Taylor to continue, changing the band's name from "Smile" to "Queen" in the process. The band had a number of bass players during this period who did not fit with the band's chemistry. It was not until February 1971 that they settled on John Deacon and began to rehearse for the first album.

The band had been playing the club/college circuit in and around London for almost two years when they were given opportunity to test out De Lane Lea Studios' new recording facilities to put together a fairly polished demo tape of five songs: "Keep Yourself Alive", "The Night Comes Down", "Great King Rat", "Jesus" and "Liar". Despite its quality, no record company would take them on, except for a low bid from Chrysalis Records, which they used to try to entice other companies. They were finally taken aboard in 1972 by Norman and Barry Sheffield, who were setting up Trident Studios, but they were allowed to record only during the studio's downtime. The downtime arrangement lasted from June to November 1972.

Queen 1 (1973)
In 1973, after much delay, Queen released their first album, a self-titled project. The album was received well by critics. Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone said "their debut album is superb",[10] and Chicago's Daily Herald called it an "above average debut". However, it drew little mainstream attention and the lead single "Keep Yourself Alive", a Brian May composition, sold poorly. The album was influenced by the heavy metal and progressive rock of the day. Greg Prato of "allmusic" called it "one of the most underrated hard rock debuts of all time."

Queen 2(1973)

It wasn't until 1974 that the band gained mainstream attention and commercial success, when the album Queen II was released. The album reached number five on the British album charts, while the Freddie Mercury-written lead single "Seven Seas of Rhye", reached number ten in the UK, giving the band its first hit. The album is their heaviest and darkest release, with long complex instrumental passages, fantasy themed lyrics and showcased the bands virtuosity. The band toured as support to Mott the Hoople in the United States during this period, and they began to gain notice for their energetic and engaging stage shows. However, album sales in the United States were, like its predecessor, low.
Breakthrough era (1974–1979) >

Queen - Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

Work on the bands third album, Sheer Heart Attack, started without May due to medical complications and was recorded and released in 1974. Considered by many fans as the band's first true classic, the album reached number one in the United Kingdom, sold well throughout Europe, and went gold in the United States, giving the band its first real taste of commercial success. The album experimented with a wide variety of musical genres, including British Music Hall ("Killer Queen"), heavy metal ("Flick of the Wrist", "Now I'm Here", and "Stone Cold Crazy" - a song which Metallica would later cover and earn a Grammy for), hard rock ("Brighton Rock", "Tenement Funster"), ballads ("Lily Of The Valley" and "Dear Friends"), ragtime ("Bring Back That Leroy Brown"), and Caribbean ("Misfire"). At this point Queen started to move away from the progressive tendencies of their first two releases into a more radio-friendly, song-oriented vein.

The single "Killer Queen" reached number two on the British charts, and became their first U.S. hit, reaching number twelve on the Billboard chart.[19] It combined camp, vaudeville, British music hall with May's guitar virtuosity. The album's second single, "Now I'm Here", a more traditional hard rock composition, was a number eleven hit in Britain.

In January 1975, The band left for the United States on their first headlining tour. Also at this time, The band's manager Jim Beach negotiated the band out of their Trident contract, leaving the band without a manager. They had a number of options, one of which was Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant. Grant wanted them to sign with Led Zeppelin's own production company, Swan Song Records. As this was unacceptable to Queen, they contacted John Reid, Elton John's manager, who accepted the position.

April of 1975 saw the band tour Japan for the first time, causing a country wide hysteria.

Queen - A Night At The Opera (1975)

Later that year the band recorded and released A Night at the Opera. At the time, it was the most expensive album ever produced. Like its predecessor, the album features diverse musical styles and experimentation with stereo sound. In "The Prophet's Song", an eight-minute epic, the middle section is simple phrases layered to create a full-choral sound. The album was a smash in Britain, and went three times platinum in the United States.

The album also featured the worldwide hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody" which was number one in the United Kingdom for nine weeks, and is Britain's third best selling single of all time, it also reached number nine in the United States. The second single from the album, "You're My Best Friend", peaked at sixteen in the United Statesand went on to become a worldwide Top Ten hit.

Queen - A Day AT The Races (1976)

By 1976, Queen were back in the studio, where they recorded A Day at the Races, what may be mistaken simply as a companion album to A Night at the Opera. It again borrowed the name of a Marx Brothers' movie, and its cover was similar to that of A Night at the Opera, a variation on the same Queen Crest. Musically, the album was by both fans' and critics' standards a strong effort, and reached number one on the British charts. The major hit on the album was "Somebody to Love", a gospel-inspired song in which Mercury, May, and Taylor multi-tracked their voices to make a 100-voice gospel choir. The song went to number two in the United Kingdom, and number thirteen on the U.S. singles chart.

During this same year Queen played one of their most famous gigs, a 1976 concert in Hyde Park, London. It set an attendance record, with 150,000 people confirmed to be in attendance. The actual number in attendance is thought to be closer to 180,000, and is usually stated as between 150,000 and 200,000. By comparison, the 2005 London Live 8 concert, which featured a number of the world's highest-drawing acts (including The Who, U2, Madonna, Elton John, Robbie Williams and a reunited Pink Floyd) drew about 150,000.

Queen - News Of The World (1977)

In 1977 News of the World was released, an album that was critically panned at the time[citation needed] but has since gained recognition as being one of the stand-out hard rock albums of the late 1970s,[citation needed] as well as being one of the albums most influential in creating stadium rock.[citation needed] This album had many songs that were tailor-made to be performed live, including "We Will Rock You" and the rock ballad "We Are the Champions", both of which reached number four in the United States, and both of which would become enduring, international sports anthems. Roger Taylor released his first solo effort this year in the form of a single. The A-side was a cover of a song by The Parliaments "I Wanna Testify" and the B-side was a song by Taylor called "Turn On The TV".

Queen - Jazz (1978)

In 1978 the band released Jazz, including the hit singles "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Race", which were also released as a double-A-side single. Although the word 'jazz' was not used in the strict sense of the term (see jazz), the album was targeted by critics for its collection of different styles, jazz not being one of them. Ironically, Rolling Stone criticized it for being "dull", continuing to say "Queen hasn't the imagination to play jazz — Queen hasn't the imagination, for that matter, to play rock & roll". The album cover was inspired by a painting on the Berlin Wall. Important tracks of the album were "Dead on Time", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Let Me Entertain You", and "Mustapha", an Arabesque-sounding song by Mercury, combined with heavy rock guitar.

In 1979 the band did not release a studio album, instead focusing on a new album to come out in 1980. They did, however, release their very first live album. Entitled Live Killers, it went platinum twice in the United States. They also released the very successful single, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", a rockabilly song done in the style of Elvis Presley; the single made the top 10 in many countries and was the band's first number one single in the United States

New sound and the introduction of synthesizers (1980–1989) >
Queen - The Game (1980)

Queen began the 1980s with the very successful album, The Game, which turned out to be their highest-selling effort (barring greatest hits collections). The album featured the singles "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust", both of which reached number one in the United States. For years, it was rumored that Michael Jackson first suggested that it would make a great single. This was confirmed by May and Taylor on the radio show In the Studio with Redbeard which devoted an episode to the making of The Game.

The album stayed number one for four weeks in the United States, and the album went four times platinum in that country. It was also the only song to ever top the Billboard rock, dance, and R&B charts simultaneously. The album also marked the first appearance of a synthesizer on a Queen album and included two popular ballads, "Play the Game" and "Save Me", the latter of which became a fan favourite and concert staple.

Queen - Flash Gordon (1980)

1980 also saw the release of the soundtrack Queen had recorded for Flash Gordon. The album sold poorly (although it reached number ten in the United Kingdom), but served as a showcase for the band in a different light.

1981 saw Queen become the first major rock band to play in South American stadiums. It broke the attendance world record for a single concert and venue, at the Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, where 131,000 people attended on the first night, followed by 251,000 in attendance over the next two days. Including five shows in Argentina, Queen played to a total audience of 479,000 people on their South American tour. On October 9, 17, and 18, 1981, Queen performed in front of more than 150,000 at Monterrey (Estadio Universitario) and Puebla (Estadio Zaragoza), Mexico; and were the first major rock band to play for Mexican audiences.

Also in 1981, Queen collaborated with another artist for the first time, David Bowie, on the single "Under Pressure". The collaboration itself was a spontaneous affair, when Bowie happened to drop by the studio while Queen were recording. While the band was immediately pleased with the results, it wasn't until years later that Bowie began playing it during his concerts. Upon its release, the song was extremely successful, reaching #1 in Britain. The bass riff was later borrowed for Vanilla Ice's 1990 hit, "Ice Ice Baby", prompting a successful lawsuit over the use of the sample.

Queen also released a widely successful compilation album (also its first), simply titled Greatest Hits, which showcased the group's rock highlights from 1974-1981. As of 2007, it is the United Kingdom's best selling album of all time. Also in 1981, Taylor became the first member of the band to release his own solo album, entitled Fun In Space.

Queen - Hot Space (1982)

In 1982 the band released the funk album Hot Space. The band stopped touring North America, as their success there had waned, although they would perform on American television for the first and only time during the eighth season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Queen would also leave Elektra Records, their label in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and sign to EMI/Capitol Records for all of the free world.

After working solidly for over ten years, either touring or recording new material, Queen decided that they would not perform any live shows in 1983. During this time, they recorded the album The Works, and several members of the band explored side projects and solo work which constantly led to rumors that the band was going to split, and which would persist throughout the rest of its career. May released a mini-album entitled Star Fleet Project, on which he collaborated with Eddie Van Halen.

Queen - The Works (1984)

In 1984, Queen bridged the gap between hard rock and pop with the album The Works, which included the successful singles "Radio Ga Ga", "I Want to Break Free" (a song later to be used in commercials for the Coca-Cola C2 soda), and the heavy, hard-rock live favorites "Hammer to Fall" and "Tear It Up". Despite these hit singles, the album failed to do well in the United States. "Radio Ga Ga" would be the band's last original Stateside Top Forty hit until 1989's "I Want It All", which reached number three in the United States Mainstream Rock chart. The music video for "I Want to Break Free" parodied Coronation Street, a British television soap opera, and was popular there, but as it showed the band in drag, was thought to work against them elsewhere where viewers did not get the joke. Many claimed that the video hurt the band's sales in the United States, in subsequent years.[citation needed]

Late in 1984, Queen embarked on a set of dates in Bophuthatswana, South Africa at the arena at Sun City.[28] Upon returning to England, they were the subject of outrage, having played there during the height of apartheid; in response, they maintained that they were just playing music for people who wanted to hear it, and stressed that the concerts were played before integrated audiences.

1985 started with two performances at the Rock in Rio festival. At two o'clock AM on January 12, Queen opened the festival playing in front of 325,000 people, breaking its previous world record. It also played on the wee hours of January 19 for a capacity-crowd of 325,000 fans. At Live Aid, held at Wembley on July 13, 1985, Queen's concert arena artistry reached its apex. In the eyes of critics and fans alike, the group stole the show at the worldwide extravaganza, performing some of their greatest hits and wowing audiences with their superb musicianship and showmanship.

Revitalized by the response to Live Aid and the resulting increase in record sales, Queen ended 1985 by releasing the single "One Vision", an up tempo guitar-based song credited, unusually for this period, to all four members of the band. It was used in the film Iron Eagle. 1985 also saw the release of Mercury's first solo album Mr. Bad Guy.

Queen - A Kind  Of Magic (1986)

In early 1986 Queen recorded the album A Kind of Magic, containing several songs written for the Russell Mulcahy film Highlander of the same year, as well as a few inspired by (but not used in) the film. This album was very successful, producing a string of hits including the title track "A Kind of Magic", "Friends Will Be Friends", "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "Princes Of The Universe".

Later that year, Queen went on a sold-out tour, known as "The Magic Tour", in support of A Kind of Magic, whose highlight was at Wembley Stadium in London and resulted in the live double album, Queen Live At Wembley Stadium, released both on CD and as a live concert film on VHS and later DVD. They could not book Wembley for a third night because it was already booked, but they managed to get Knebworth Park. It sold out within two hours and over 120,000 fans packed the park for what turned out to be Queen's final live performance with Mercury. Ultimately, the Magic Tour was the biggest tour Queen had ever played. A total of more than 1 million people saw the show, with 400,000 for the United Kingdom alone, which was the record at the time.

Queen - The Miracle (1989)

After working in various solo projects during 1988 (including Mercury's collaboration with Montserrat Caballé, Barcelona) the band released The Miracle in 1989. The album continued the direction of A Kind of Magic with a polished pop-rock sound mixed with a few heavy numbers and spawned the European hits "I Want It All", "Breakthru", "The Invisible Man", "Scandal", and "The Miracle". Queen announced that there would be no tour for this album, with Mercury declaring that he was the sole reason. He stated that he simply wanted to break the typical cycle of album/tour. Speculation returned of a possible breakup of the band in the near future, or that Mercury might be suffering from health problems.

The Miracle also began a change in direction of Queen's songwriting philosophy. Since the band's beginning, nearly all songs had been written by and credited to a single member, with each of the other members often adding minimal creative input, and instead helping the original writer to realize their vision for the song. Starting with The Miracle, the band's songwriting began to become more collaborative, and although many songs could be said to have been written largely by one member or another, they vowed to credit the final product only to Queen as a group.

Mercury's death and the final albums (1990–1997) >
Queen - Innuendo (1991)

Beginning in the late 1980s, rumours started spreading in the tabloid press and elsewhere that Mercury was suffering from AIDS. Although the rumours turned out to be true, Mercury flatly denied them at the time. However, the band decided to keep making albums free of conflict and differences; starting with The Miracle and continuing with 1991's Innuendo. Although his health was deteriorating, Mercury continued to contribute, working in a creative fervor. Highlights of Innuendo were the epic title track, the hard-rocking powerhouse "Headlong", the quirky, synthesizer-heavy, pop-styled "I'm Going Slightly Mad", and the reflective anthems "The Show Must Go On" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives".

On 23 November 1991, in a prepared statement made on his deathbed, Mercury finally confirmed that he had AIDS. Within twenty-four hours of the announcement, Mercury died at the age of forty-five. His funeral services were private, held in accordance with the Zoroastrian religious faith of his family. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was re-released shortly after Mercury's death, along with "These Are the Days of Our Lives". Initial proceeds from the single – approximately £1,000,000 – were donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

On 20 April 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 including Tony Iommi, Robert Plant, Annie Lennox, Guns N' Roses, Extreme, Roger Daltrey, Def Leppard, Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Metallica and Liza Minnelli, along with the three lasting members of Queen, performed many of Queen's major hits. It was a successful concert that was televised to over 1 billion viewers worldwide. The concert is in The Guinness Book of Records as "The largest rock star benefit concert." It raised over £20,000,000 for AIDS charities. Queen's popularity increased once again in the United States after "Bohemian Rhapsody" was featured in the comedy film Wayne's World, helping the song reach number two for five weeks in the United States charts in 1992.

The band also terminated their Capitol Records contract and signed a deal with Hollywood Records as their new U.S label.

Queen - Made In Heaven (1995)
Queen never actually disbanded, although its last album of original material (not including compilations) was released in 1995, titled Made in Heaven, released four years after Mercury's death. It was constructed from Mercury's final recording sessions in 1991, plus material left over from their previous studio albums; in addition, re-worked material from Mercury's solo album Mr. Bad Guy and a track originally featured on the first album of Taylor's side-project, The Cross, were included. May and Taylor have often been involved in projects related to raising money for AIDS research and promoting its support. John Deacon's last involvement with the band was in 1997, when he recorded the track "No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)" with the other two members. It was the last original song recorded by all three remaining members of Queen, and it was released as a bonus track on the Queen Rocks compilation album later that year.
"Queen + …" projects (1998–) >

Several Queen + projects were developed in the following years, a few of them mere remixes with no artistic involvement from the band. In 1999, a Greatest Hits III album was released. This album featured, among others, "Queen + Wyclef Jean" on a rap version of "Another One Bites The Dust", the live version of "Somebody to Love" by George Michael, and the live version of "The Show Must Go On", performed live in 1997 with Elton John.

Brian May and Roger Taylor performed together as Queen on several occasions (award ceremonies, charity concerts, and the like), sharing vocals with various guest singers. They also recorded several covers of Queen's hits, including "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" with new singers.

In 2003, four new songs were recorded by Queen for Nelson Mandela's 46664 campaign against AIDS. The studio versions of Invincible Hope (Queen + Nelson Mandela, feat. Treana Morris), 46664 - The Call, Say It's Not True, and Amandla (Anastacia, Dave Stewart and Queen) have not yet been released on album.

Queen + Paul Rodgers >
Queen - Taylor,Rogers and May 2006

At the end of 2004, it was announced that Queen would reunite and return to touring in 2005, with Paul Rodgers (founder and former lead singer of Free and Bad Company). It was also stated, including on Brian May's own website, that Rodgers would be 'featured with' Queen as Queen + Paul Rodgers, not replacing the late Freddie Mercury. The retired Deacon would not be participating; Danny Miranda of Blue Öyster Cult replaced him on bass. Other members of the tour included keyboardist Spike Edney, who played guitar and keyboards in Queen live shows since 1984, and additional guitarist Jamie Moses, who had worked with Brian May on solo efforts since the early '90s.

On September 19, 2005, a live double CD album was released, Return of the Champions, featuring Paul Rodgers and recorded live in May 2005 during the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England. A DVD from the same concert was released a few weeks later.

In March 2006, Queen + Paul Rodgers set out to tour the United States and Canada. This tour, apart from the two United States dates from the first Queen + Paul Rodgers tour, marks Queen's first full-on United States tour since Hot Space in 1982. Queen + Paul Rodgers debuted their first new song, a collaboration called "Take Love", while on the United States tour.

On April 28, 2006, Queen + Paul Rodgers released a second live DVD from their collaboration, Super Live in Japan; the show was filmed at Saitama Super Arena on October 27, 2005 - one of six Japan dates scheduled.

On August 15, 2006, Brian May confirmed through his website that Queen + Paul Rodgers will begin producing a new studio album beginning in October, to be recorded at a heretofore 'secret location'.


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