Famous British rock band, Queen started performing in 1970 with the following musicians:
- Freddie Mercury
- Brian May
- John Deacon
- Roger Taylor
Formed in 1970, the group’s music style was initially influenced by hard rock, heavy metal and progressive, but with time, they began to incorporate more radio friendly and conventional styles including pop rock and arena rock.
Their logo encompassed deep sentiments to the members of the band; combining the zodiac signs of all of them; the lion, crab and two fairies. The band’s popularity mainly originated from their hit singles, ingenuity, live performances and showmanship.
Queen remains one of the longest-standing English bands to arrive on the British heavy rock scene.
Birth of Queen
After the disbandment of the London based band, Smile of which band members, Brian, Roger and Freddie played in, Queen came into existence.
The three had met in West London around the late 1960s, and had been friends for nearly 10 years.
Before leaving West London, Brian had formed a band, 1964, with his friend and singer Timothy John Staffell.
It wasn’t long before he (Brian) left in 1968, to get a degree in Astronomy where he formed another group Smile, in which Tim later joined to play the bass guitar instead and a keyboardist named Chris Smith also joined. In need of other band members, 21-year-old dental student, drummer Roger Taylor was recruited.
After a few months, Tim got acquainted with a fan of the band Freddie Bulsara, a native of India who became a lead singer in the band after several deliberations. Tim left the band in 1970 to follow his interest in R&B and formed his own band while Smith left earlier in 1969.
The remaining band members played their debut show on 27th June 1970 and renamed themselves as “Queen” following Freddie’s suggestion.
Around the same time, Freddie changed his surname from Bulsara to Mercury. A year after, they had bassist John Richard Deacon join them, complementing the band with his calm demeanor and electronic skills.
They remained unsigned between 1971 and 1974 after rejecting a £25,000 management deal with Charisma Records due to the records failure to prioritize them.
A 1972 gig provoked disappointment after having only six people show up at Bedford College. After performing a few live shows, the band stopped performing live for eight months, deciding to work tediously on their album.
They made a decision to promote their unreleased album on BBC Radio 1 in February 1973.
Trident Studios together with their manager Norman Sheffield, got them signed to EMI Records. Their single “Keep Yourself Alive”, was released on July 6 and was well received.
They released their album “Queen II” in 1973 which reached No. 10 in the UK charts and by 1974, they were playing at famous pop festivals, particularly the Sunbury Pop Festival.
Tragedies could not be avoided for the band as in May 1974, Brian May collapsed during the band’s first tour and was diagnosed with hepatitis.
Queen toured through the world as headliners and began playing in countries they hadn’t yet by 1975. They parted ways with Trident and hired John Reid as their new manager.
They released their fourth album, A Night at the Opera, with production costs reaching a high £40,000 through three different studios. This album blew the band over the charts making them very successful in Britain and on the international scene.
They played a landmark show in September of that year with 150,000 fans present. Late 1970’s to 1992 came with other major album releases and events such as News of the World particularly made for live shows, tours in the subsequent years through big continents like Europe and the release of their first live album, Live Killers which also spawned major hit singles and a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden.
The Game Tour pulled a crowd of 130,000 people in the first night and more than 120,000 in the other nights.
They released their eleventh album in 1984 and headlined two nights of the first Rock in Rio festival with over 300,000 people in attendance each night.
The final years of band member Freddie began after the last tour with the band in 1986 after his visible gaunt alerted his fans with the rumors of him having AIDS. He died on 24 November 1991 of bronchial pneumonia caused by AIDS. His last album with the band was released in 1995.
In the 2000s May and Taylor parted ways but reunited from a tour in 2005. They embarked on other tours in the following years in collaboration with Paul Rodgers who left the band several tours after.
They quit their 40-year record label with EMI and signed a new contract on 20th August 2010 with Universal Records.
Queen has been named as one of the few bands with the largest fan base in history. They have received nine inductions, a few being the following:
- Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- UK Hall of Fame
- The Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award
They were nominated for six Brit Awards from 1977 to 2005 and won four out of them; British Single of the Year (1977 &1990), British Album of the Year and Outstanding Contribution to Music.
They had two Billboard Music Award nominations (Top Rock Artist & Top Soundtrack), swept three nominations from Ivor Novello Awards and won three outstanding Ivor awards for the following:
- Best Selling British Records
- Outstanding Contribution to British Music
- Outstanding Song Collection
Their hit song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been voted the UK’s favorite hit of all time, the best song of all time and was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.
The Guinness Book of World Records revealed in 2005 that the group’s albums had spent a total of 1,322 weeks, equivalent to 26 years on the UK Albums charts.
They have an estimated sales of between 170 million and 300 million records worldwide, with at least 34.5 million albums sold in the US.
In 2003, each of its members were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Their widely successful hit songs “We are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” have been used as anthems at numerous sport events.
The band has also been recognized as one of the greatest stadium rock bands worldwide, with their 1985 performance at the iconic Live Aid concert ranked as one of the biggest in the history of rock. The band is estimated to have sold out 170 to 200 million records worldwide.
Facts about Queen
The Guinness Book of Records has recorded the band’s “International Queen Fan Club” as the longest running Rock group fan club.
Freddie Mercury loved to call his cats at home while he was on tours.
Roger Taylor almost never joined the band.
Brian May’s guitar was handmade by himself and his father.
Although the band’s debut album was released in 1973, they first topped UK charts with their second album titled Queen II which was released in 1974. Their 1975 hit single “Bohemian Rhapsody” remained on UK charts at number one for nine weeks in a row.
Following the demise of Freddie Mercury and John Deacon’s retirement, Taylor and May continued with the band’s legacy. They toured alongside a number of singers, including Adam Lambert under the stage name “Queen +” since 2004.
Famous Songs by Queen
Aside from the aforementioned songs, the following are some of Queen’s most notable songs:
- “A Kind of Magic”
- “A Winter’s Tale”
- “Another One Bites the Dust“
- “Back Chat”
- “Bicycle Race“
- “Body Language”
- “Bohemian Rhapsody“
- “Calling All Girls”
- “Crazy Little Thing Called Love“
- “Don’t Stop Me Now”
- “Fat Bottomed Girls“
- “Flick of the Wrist”
- “Friends Will Be Friends”
- “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”
- “Hammer to Fall”
- “Heaven for Everyone”
- “I Want It All”
- “I Want to Break Free”
- “I Was Born to Love You”
- “I’m Going Slightly Mad”
- “It’s a Hard Life”
- “It’s Late”
- “Keep Yourself Alive”
- “Killer Queen“
- “Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)”
- “Let Me in Your Heart Again (William Orbit Mix)”
- “Let Me Live”
- “Long Away”
- “Love of My Life”
- “Need Your Loving Tonight”
- “No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)”
- “Now I’m Here”
- “One Vision”
- “One Year of Love”
- “Pain Is So Close to Pleasure”
- “Play the Game”
- “Princes of the Universe”
- “Radio Ga Ga“
- “Save Me“
- “Seven Seas of Rhye“
- “Somebody to Love“
- “Spread Your Wings”
- “Staying Power”
- “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)”
- “Thank God It’s Christmas”
- “The Invisible Man”
- “The Miracle”
- “The Show Must Go On”
- “There Must Be More to Life Than This” (with Michael Jackson)”
- “These Are the Days of Our Lives”
- “Tie Your Mother Down”
- “Too Much Love Will Kill You”
- “Under Pressure” (with David Bowie)
- “We Are the Champions“
- “We Will Rock You“
- “Who Wants to Live Forever”
- “You Don’t Fool Me”
- “You’re My Best Friend”