Queen is a Britishrockband 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 recognised 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.
Though Freddie Mercury's personality always dominated in the press, all four members of the group actually wrote huge hits:
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 which got as high as number 11 on the U.S. charts. 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 rereleased 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 Lexuscommercials.
The album was a smash in Britain, and went three times platinum in the United States. 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 underrated.
The 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) - and possibly an influence on Queens Of The Stone Age's 'Feelgood Hit of the Summer' which features an alarmingly similar guitar riff.
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.
Fan response was lukewarm to Jazz and for the first time Queen's sales saw a bit of a dip. All band members, especially Mercury, noted frustration and disappointment with the album, and as a result, took a break from the breakneck schedule of one or more albums a year, and focused during the year of 1979 totally on a new album to come out in 1980.
They did, however, release their first-ever live album, in response to the exorbitant amounts of money Queen bootlegs were fetching. The album, entitled Live Killers, went platinum (twice in the U.S.) in most developed countries. They also released the very successful single, 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love,' a song done in the style of Elvis Presley; the single made the top 10 in most countries and was the band's first number one single in the U.S.
Queen kicked off the 1980's with the hugely successful album, The Game. The album turned out to be their highest selling non-greatest hits. The album featured the 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' single, as well as the monster hit 'Another One Bites the Dust' a track that was released in 1981 after Michael Jackson suggested it would make a great single. It combined Queen's rock sensibilities with a funky minimalism that resulted in a discofied rock classic. It stayed at number one for four weeks in the United States, and the album went four times platinum States-side. The album also featured two of Queen's greatest ballads; 'Play the Game' and the fan-favorite 'Save Me,' both of which were hits in Britain and well-remembered by rock fans in the States.
1980 also saw them do the innovative and critically-acclaimed soundtrack for the movie Flash Gordon. The album sold poorly, but served as a showcase for Queen in a different light.
1981 saw Queen collaborate with David Bowie for the single 'Under Pressure'. The single netted a number one in Britain and a well-remembered rock anthem, a fan-favorite of both Queen and Bowie legionnaires. The group also released a widely successful greatest hits CD, their first, which showcased their rock highlights during the first phase of their career.
The response to 'Another One Bites the Dust' was overwhelming, so the band decided to do an entire album of disco/funk influenced songs. The result was the 1982 album Hot Space, an album which, either fairly or not, has been almost unanimously regarded by critics and die-hard, loyal fans alike as being one of their worst. The album was especially disappointing to the hard-rock faithful that followed them through the 70s since their first album and their breakthrough success 'Sheer Heart Attack.' Nonetheless, the album included 'Under Pressure,' the only real highlight, and 'Body Language,' a single that only gained attention in the U.S., netting a surprise number 11 hit.
In 1984, Queen successfully bridged the gap between hard rock and pop with the album The Works, which included the incredibly successful glitzy rock anthem 'Radio Ga-Ga,' the gorgeous pop of 'I Want to Break Free,' (a song that would become an anthem of the supressed left-wing of Brazil and later Coca-Cola 'C2' Commercials), the heavy, hard-rock live favorites 'Hammer to Fall' (a poetic commentary on the Cold War) and 'Tear It Up.' Despite these hit singles and live barn-burners, the album failed to sell well, contributing to tensions within the band. This led to the members of Queen branching off onto solo projects during this period.
Then came 1985, and the benefit concert Live Aid, which Queen were invited to perform at. 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 energy and superb musicianry and showmanship.
Revitalised by the reponse to Live Aid and the resulting increase in record sales, Queen ended 1985 by releasing the single 'One Vision', an uptempo guitar-based song credited, unusally for this period, to the four members of the band. It was used in the film 'Iron Eagle'.
In early 1986 Queen recorded the album 'A Kind of Magic', inspired by the 1986 Russell Mulcahy film Highlander. This album was very successful, producing a string of hits including the title track 'A Kind of Magic', 'Who Wants To Live Forever?' and 'Friends Will Be Friends'.
Later that year, 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.
After working in various solo projects during 1988 (including Mercury�s collaboration with Montserrat Caball�, 'Barcelona') the band released The Miracle in 1989. This record continued the direction of A Kind of Magic with a polished pop-rock sound and hits like 'Invisible Man', 'The Miracle' and 'Breakthru'.
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 bandmates 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 handlis he�
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Items to buy by Queen
|Bohemian Rhapsody "By Queen. For voice, piano and guitar chords. Piano Vocal. Hard Rock, Glam Rock and Progressive Rock. Difficulty: medium. Single. Vocal melody, piano accompaniment, lyrics, chord names and guitar chord diagrams. 11 pages. Published by Hal Leonard" |
|Somebody to Love (from Glee). By Queen and Glee Cast. By Freddie Mercury. Arranged by Roger Emerson and Adam Anders. SATB. Pop Choral Series. 20 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|The Best Of Queen "By Queen. For voice, piano and guitar chords. Piano/Vocal/Guitar Artist Songbook. Hard Rock, Glam Rock and Progressive Rock. Difficulty: medium. Songbook. Vocal melody, piano accompaniment, lyrics, chord names and guitar chord diagrams. 64 pages. Publish |
|Bohemian Rhapsody "By Queen. By Freddie Mercury. Arranged by Mark A. Brymer. For SATB chorus and piano accompaniment (SATB). Choral. Hard Rock, Glam Rock and Progressive Rock. Difficulty: medium. Vocal score. Vocal score notation and piano accompaniment. 16 pages. Duration |
|Deluxe Anthology "By Queen. For voice, piano and guitar chords. Piano/Vocal/Guitar Artist Songbook. Hard Rock, Glam Rock and Progressive Rock. Difficulty: medium. Songbook. Vocal melody, piano accompaniment, lyrics, chord names and guitar chord diagrams. 144 pages. Publis |
|Somebody to Love (from Glee). By Queen and Glee Cast. By Freddie Mercury. Arranged by Roger Emerson and Adam Anders. SSA. Pop Choral Series. 20 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Bohemian Rhapsody By Queen. By Freddie Mercury. Arranged by Philip Lawson. SATTBB A Cappella. Pop Choral Series. 24 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Hail Holy Queen (from Sister Act) ((from Sister Act)). Arranged by Marc Shaiman. For SATB choir and piano accompaniment (SATB). Hal Leonard Choral. Choral and Movies. Octavo. Chord names. 12 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Queen (Flute). By Queen. Instrumental Folio. Softcover with CD. 24 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Hail Holy Queen (from Sister Act) ((from Sister Act)). Arranged by Marc Shaiman. For SSA choir and piano accompaniment (SSA). Choral. Choral. Sacred. Difficulty: medium. Octavo. Chord names. 12 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Somebody to Love (from Glee). By Queen and Glee Cast. By Freddie Mercury. Arranged by Roger Emerson and Adam Anders. SAB. Pop Choral Series. 20 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Queen (Trumpet). By Queen. Trumpet. Instrumental Folio. Softcover with CD. 24 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Somebody to Love (from Glee). By Queen and Glee Cast. By Freddie Mercury. Arranged by Roger Emerson and Adam Anders. ShowTrax CD. Pop Choral Series. CD only. Published by Hal Leonard |
|Dancing Queen "By ABBA. By Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Stig Anderson. Arranged by Deke Sharon. SSAA A Cappella. Choral. 12 pages. Published by Hal Leonard" |
|Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba (from Solomon) "(Sinfonia From ""Solomon""). By George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). Arranged by Stainton de B. Taylor. For organ. Photoprint edition - publisher prints this title after order is received. Baroque. Difficulty: medium. Organ solo book. 8 pages. Published b |
|Bohemian Rhapsody "By Queen, Glee (TV Series), and Glee Cast. Film/TV; Pop; Rock. Piano/Vocal/Guitar. 10 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music" |
|We Will Rock You By Queen. By Brian May. Arranged by Mark A. Brymer. SATB A Cappella. Pop Choral Series. 8 pages. Published by Hal Leonard |
Queen are a British rock band that formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (lead guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar). Queen's earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock, into their music.
Before forming Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in Smile. Mercury, then known by his birth name, Farrokh "Freddie" Bulsara, was a fan of Smile and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques. Mercury joined in 1970, suggested the name "Queen", and adopted his familiar stage name. Deacon was recruited before the band recorded their eponymous debut album in 1973. Queen first charted in the UK with their second album, Queen II, in 1974, but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack later that year and A Night at the Opera in 1975 which brought them international success. The latter featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", which stayed at number one in the UK for nine weeks and also helped to popularise the music video.
The band's 1977 album News of the World contained "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", which have become anthems at sporting events. By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world. "Another One Bites the Dust" (1980) became their best-selling single, while their 1981 compilation album Greatest Hits is the best-selling album in the UK and is certified eight times platinum in the US. Their performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert has been ranked among the greatest in rock history by various music publications. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. May and Taylor have performed under the Queen name with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert as vocalists on tours since.
Estimates of their record sales range from 150 million to 300 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Queen received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Each member of Queen has composed multiple hit singles, and all four band members were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2005 the band received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors, and in 2018 they were presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
1968–1974: Early days
In 1968, guitarist Brian May, a student at London's Imperial College, and bassist Tim Staffell decided to form a band. May placed an advertisement on a college notice board for a "Mitch Mitchell/Ginger Baker type" drummer; Roger Taylor, a young dental student, auditioned and got the job. The group called themselves Smile.
While attending Ealing Art College, Tim Staffell became friends with Farrokh Bulsara, a fellow student who had assumed the English name of Freddie. Bulsara felt that he and the band had the same tastes and soon became a keen fan of Smile. In 1970, after Staffell left to join the band Humpy Bong, the remaining Smile members, encouraged by Bulsara, changed their name to "Queen" and performed their first gig on 18 July. 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 their first album. They recorded four of their own songs, "Liar", "Keep Yourself Alive", "The Night Comes Down" and "Jesus", for a demo tape; no record companies were interested. It was also around this time Freddie changed his surname to "Mercury", inspired by the line "Mother Mercury, look what they've done to me" in the song "My Fairy King". On 2 July 1971, Queen played their first show in the classic line-up of Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon at a Surrey college outside London.
Having attended art college, Mercury also designed Queen's logo, called the Queen crest, shortly before the release of the band's first album. The logo combines the zodiac signs of all four members: two lions for Leo (Deacon and Taylor), a crab for Cancer (May), and two fairies for Virgo (Mercury). The lions embrace a stylised letter Q, the crab rests atop the letter with flames rising directly above it, and the fairies are each sheltering below a lion. There is also a crown inside the Q and the whole logo is over-shadowed by an enormous phoenix. The whole symbol bears a passing resemblance to the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, particularly with the lion supporters. The original logo, as found on the reverse-side of the cover of the band's first album, was a simple line drawing. Later sleeves bore more intricate-coloured versions of the logo.
In 1972, Queen entered discussions with Trident Studios after being spotted at De La Lane Studios by John Anthony. After these discussions, Norman Sheffield offered the band a management deal under Neptune Productions, a subsidiary of Trident, to manage the band and enable them to use the facilities at Trident to record new material, whilst the management searched for a record label to sign Queen. This suited both parties, as Trident were expanding into management, and under the deal, Queen were able to make use of the hi-tech recording facilities used by other musicians such as the Beatles and Elton John to produce new material.
In 1973, Queen signed to a deal with Trident/EMI. By July of that year, they released their eponymous debut album, an effort influenced by heavy metal and progressive rock. The album was received well by critics; Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone called it "superb", and Chicago's Daily Herald called it an "above average debut". However, it drew little mainstream attention, and the lead single "Keep Yourself Alive" sold poorly. Retrospectively, it is cited as the highlight of the album, and in 2008 Rolling Stone ranked it 31st in the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time", describing it as "an entire album's worth of riffs crammed into a single song". The album was certified gold in the UK and the US.
The group's second LP, Queen II, was released in 1974, and features rock photographer Mick Rock's iconic image of the band on the cover. This image would be used as the basis for the 1975 "Bohemian Rhapsody" music video production. The album reached number five on the British album chart and became the first Queen album to chart in the UK. The Freddie Mercury-written lead single "Seven Seas of Rhye" reached number ten in the UK, giving the band their first hit. The album is the first real testament to the band's distinctive layered sound, and features long complex instrumental passages, fantasy-themed lyrics, and musical virtuosity. Aside from its only single, the album also included the song "The March of the Black Queen", a six-minute epic which lacks a chorus. The Daily Vault described the number as "menacing". Critical reaction was mixed; the Winnipeg Free Press, while praising the band's debut album, described Queen II as an "over-produced monstrosity". Allmusic has described the album as a favourite among the band's hardcore fans, and it is the first of three Queen albums to feature in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
1974–1976: Sheer Heart Attack to A Night at the Opera
In May 1974, a month into the band's first US tour opening for Mott the Hoople, Brian May collapsed and was diagnosed with hepatitis, forcing the cancellation of their remaining dates. While recuperating, May was initially absent when the band started work on their third album, but he returned midway through the recording process. Released in 1974, Sheer Heart Attack reached number two in the United Kingdom, sold well throughout Europe, and went gold in the United States. It gave the band their first real experience of international success, and was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The album experimented with a variety of musical genres, including British music hall, heavy metal, ballads, ragtime, and Caribbean. At this point, Queen started to move away from the progressive tendencies of their first two releases into a more radio-friendly, song-orientated style.Sheer Heart Attack introduced new sound and melody patterns that would be refined on their next album, A Night at the Opera.
The single "Killer Queen" from Sheer Heart Attack reached number two on the British charts, and became their first US hit, reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It combines camp, vaudeville, and 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, while the high speed rocker "Stone Cold Crazy" featuring May's uptempo riffs is a precursor to speed metal. In recent years, the album has received acclaim from music publications: In 2006, Classic Rock ranked it number 28 in "The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever", and in 2007, Mojo ranked it No.88 in "The 100 Records That Changed the World". It is also the second of three Queen albums to feature in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
In January 1975, the band left for a world tour with each member in Zandra Rhodes-created costumes and accompanied with banks of lights and effects. They toured the US as headliners, and played in Canada for the first time, after that they played in seven cities of Japan from mid-April to the start of May. In September, after an acrimonious split with Trident, the band negotiated themselves out of their Trident Studios contract and searched for new management. One of the options they considered was an offer from Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant. Grant wanted them to sign with Led Zeppelin's own production company, Swan Song Records. The band found the contract unacceptable and instead contacted Elton John's manager, John Reid, who accepted the position.
In late 1975, Queen recorded and released A Night at the Opera, taking its name from the popular Marx Brothers movie. 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 a canon, with simple phrases layered to create a full-choral sound. The Mercury penned ballad, "Love of My Life", featured a harp and overdubbed vocal harmonies. The album was very successful in Britain, and went triple platinum in the United States. The British public voted it the 13th greatest album of all time in a 2004 Channel 4 poll. It has also ranked highly in international polls; in a worldwide Guinness poll, it was voted the 19th greatest of all time, while an ABC poll saw the Australian public vote it the 28th greatest of all time.A Night at the Opera has frequently appeared in "greatest albums" lists reflecting the opinions of critics. Among other accolades, it was ranked number 16 in Q Magazine's "The 50 Best British Albums Ever" in 2004, and number 11 in Rolling Stone's "The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time" as featured in their Mexican edition in 2004. It was also placed at No. 230 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2003.A Night at the Opera is the third and final Queen album to be featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The album also featured the hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody", which was number one in the UK for nine weeks. Mercury's close friend and advisor, Capital London radio DJ Kenny Everett, played a pivotal role in giving the single exposure. It is the third-best-selling single of all time in the UK, surpassed only by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", and is the best-selling commercial single in the UK. It also reached number nine in the United States (a 1992 re-release reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks). It is the only single ever to sell a million copies on two separate occasions, and became the Christmas number one twice in the UK, the only single ever to do so. "Bohemian Rhapsody" has been voted numerous times the greatest song of all time. The band decided to make a video to help go with the single and hired Trilion, a subsidiary of the former management company Trident Studios, using new technology to create the video; the result is generally considered to have been the first "true" music video ever produced, and popularised the medium. Although other bands, including the Beatles, had made short promotional films or videos of songs before, most of those were specifically made to be aired on specific television shows. On the impact of "Bohemian Rhapsody", Rolling Stone states: "Its influence cannot be overstated, practically inventing the music video seven years before MTV went on the air." Ranking it number 31 on their list of the 50 key events in rock music history, The Guardian stated it ensured "videos would henceforth be a mandatory tool in the marketing of music". The album's first track "Death on Two Legs" is said to have been written by Mercury about Norman Sheffield and the former management at Trident who helped make the video so popular because the band was broke despite the success of the previous album. The second single from the album, "You're My Best Friend", the second song composed by John Deacon, and his first single, peaked at number sixteen in the United States and went on to become a worldwide Top Ten hit. The band's A Night at the Opera Tour began in November 1975, and covered Europe, the United States, Japan, and Australia.
1976–1979: A Day at the Races to Live Killers
By 1976, Queen were back in the studio recording A Day at the Races, which is often regarded as a sequel 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. The most recognisable of the Marx Brothers, Groucho Marx, invited Queen to visit him in his Los Angeles home in March 1977; there the band thanked him in person, and performed "'39" a cappella. Musically, A Day at the Races was by both fans' and critics' standards a strong effort, reaching number one in the UK and Japan, and number five in the US. 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 create a 100-voice gospel choir. The song went to number two in the UK, and number thirteen in the US. The album also featured one of the band's heaviest songs, May's "Tie Your Mother Down", which became a staple of their live shows.
During 1976, Queen played one of their most famous gigs, a free concert in Hyde Park, London. A concert organised by the entrepreneur Richard Branson, it set an attendance record with 150,000 people confirmed in the audience. On 1 December 1976, Queen were the intended guests on London's early evening Today programme, but they pulled out at the last-minute, which saw their late replacement on the show, EMI labelmate the Sex Pistols, give their infamous expletive-strewn interview with Bill Grundy. During the A Day at the Races Tour in 1977, Queen performed sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, New York, in February, and Earls Court, London, in June.
The band's sixth studio album News of the World was released in 1977, which has gone four times platinum in the United States, and twice in the UK. The album contained many songs tailor-made for live performance, including two of rock's most recognisable anthems, "We Will Rock You" and the rock ballad "We Are the Champions", both of which became enduring international sports anthems, and the latter reached number four in the US. Queen commenced the News of the World Tour in October 1977, and Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times called this concert tour the band's "most spectacularly staged and finely honed show".
In 1978, the band released Jazz, which reached number two in the UK and number six on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album included the hit singles "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Race" on a double-sided record. Queen rented Wimbledon Stadium for a day to shoot the video, with 65 female models hired to stage a nude bicycle race. Reviews of the album in recent years have been more favourable. Another notable track from Jazz, "Don't Stop Me Now", provides another example of the band's exuberant vocal harmonies.
In 1978, Queen toured the US and Canada, and spent much of 1979 touring in Europe and Japan. They released their first live album, Live Killers, in 1979; it went platinum twice in the US. Queen also released the very successful single "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", a rockabilly inspired song done in the style of Elvis Presley. The song made the top 10 in many countries, topped the Australian ARIA Charts for seven consecutive weeks, and was the band's first number one single in the United States where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. Having written the song on guitar and played rhythm on the record, Mercury played rhythm guitar while performing the song live, which was the first time he ever played guitar in concert. In December 1979, Queen played the opening night at the Concert for the People of Kampuchea in London, having accepted a request by the event's organiser Paul McCartney.
1980–1984: The Game to The Works
Queen began their 1980s career with The Game. It featured the singles "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust", both of which reached number one in the US. After attending a Queen concert in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson suggested to Mercury backstage that "Another One Bites the Dust" be released as a single, and in October 1980 it spent three weeks at number one. The album topped the Billboard 200 for five weeks, and sold over four million copies in the US. It was also the first appearance of a synthesiser on a Queen album. Heretofore, their albums featured a distinctive "No Synthesisers!" sleeve note. The note is widely assumed to reflect an anti-synth, pro-"hard"-rock stance by the band, but was later revealed by producer Roy Thomas Baker to be an attempt to clarify that those albums' multi-layered solos were created with guitars, not synths, as record company executives kept assuming at the time. In September 1980, Queen performed three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. In 1980, Queen also released the soundtrack they had recorded for Flash Gordon. At the 1981 American Music Awards in January, "Another One Bites the Dust" won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single, and Queen were nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group.
In February 1981, Queen travelled to South America as part of The Game Tour, and became the first major rock band to play in Latin American stadiums. The tour included five shows in Argentina, one of which drew the largest single concert crowd in Argentine history with an audience of 300,000 in Buenos Aires and two concerts at the Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, where they played to an audience of more than 131,000 people in the first night (then the largest paying audience for a single band anywhere in the world) and more than 120,000 people the following night. In October of the same year, Queen performed for more than 150,000 fans on 9 October at Monterrey (Estadio Universitario) and 17 and 18 at Puebla (Estadio Zaragoza), Mexico. On 24 and 25 November, Queen played two sell out nights at the Montreal Forum, Quebec, Canada. One of Mercury's most notable performances of The Game's final track, "Save Me", took place in Montreal, and the concert is recorded in the live album, Queen Rock Montreal.
"It was very excessive [the style of life]. I think the excess leaked out from the music into life and became a need. Queen was a wonderful vehicle and a wonderful, magical combination, but I think it came close to destroying us all. [We] were the biggest thing in the world for a moment in time and everything that goes with that really messes up your mind somehow. We've all suffered. Freddie, obviously, went completely AWOL, which is why he got that terrible disease. He was utterly out of control for a while. In a way, all of us were out of control and [...] it screwed us up."
Queen worked with David Bowie on the single "Under Pressure". The first-time collaboration with another artist was spontaneous, as Bowie happened to drop by the studio while Queen were recording. Upon its release, the song was extremely successful, reaching number one in the UK and featuring at number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s.
In October that year, Queen released their first compilation album, titled Greatest Hits, which showcased the group's highlights from 1974 to 1981. It is the best-selling album in UK Chart history, and has spent 450 weeks in the UK Album Chart. The album is certified eight times platinum in the United States, and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Taylor became the first member of the band to release his own solo album in 1981, titled Fun in Space.
In 1982, the band released the album Hot Space, a departure from their trademark seventies sound, this time being a mixture of rock, pop rock, dance, funk, and R&B. Most of the album was recorded in Munich during the most turbulent period in the band's history, and Taylor and May lamented the new sound, with both being very critical of the influence Mercury's personal manager Paul Prenter had on the singer. May was also scathing of Prenter, who was Mercury's manager from the early 1980s to 1984, for being dismissive of the importance of radio stations, such as the US networks, and their vital connection between the artist and the community, and for denying them access to Mercury.Q magazine would list Hot Space as one of the top fifteen albums where great rock acts lost the plot. On 14 and 15 September 1982, the band performed their last two gigs in the US with Mercury on lead vocals, those concerts were held at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The band stopped touring North America after their Hot Space Tour, as their success there had waned, although they would perform on American television for the only time during the eighth-season premiere of Saturday Night Live on 25 September of the same year; it became the final public performance of the band in North America before the death of their frontman. Queen left Elektra Records, their label in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and signed onto EMI/Capitol Records.
After working steadily for over ten years, Queen decided that they would not perform any live shows in 1983. During this time, they recorded a new album at the Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles and Musicland Studios, Munich, and several members of the band explored side projects and solo work. Taylor released his second solo album, Strange Frontier. May released the mini-album, Star Fleet Project, collaborating with Eddie Van Halen.
In February 1984, Queen released their eleventh studio album, The Works, which included the successful singles "Radio Ga Ga", "Hammer to Fall" and "I Want to Break Free". Despite these hit singles, the album failed to do well in the US, while in the UK it went triple platinum and remained in the albums chart for two years.
That year, Queen began The Works Tour, the first tour to feature keyboardist Spike Edney as an extra live musician. The tour featured nine sold-out dates in October in Bophuthatswana, South Africa, at the arena in Sun City. Upon returning to England, they were the subject of outrage, having played in South Africa during the height of apartheid and in violation of worldwide divestment efforts and a United Nations cultural boycott. The band responded to the critics by stating that they were playing music for fans in South Africa, and they also stressed that the concerts were played before integrated audiences. Queen donated to a school for the deaf and blind as a philanthropic gesture but were fined by the British Musicians' Union and placed on the United Nations' blacklisted artists.
1985–1988: Live Aid and later years
In January 1985, the band headlined two nights of the first Rock in Rio festival at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and played in front of over 300,000 people each night. The Boston Globe described it as a "mesmerising performance". A selection of highlights of both nights was released on VHS with the title Queen: Live in Rio, and was later broadcast on MTV in the US. In April and May 1985, Queen completed the Works Tour with sold-out shows in Australia and Japan.
"Queen were absolutely the best band of the day... they just went and smashed one hit after another... it was the perfect stage for Freddie: the whole world."
At Live Aid, held at Wembley on 13 July 1985, in front of the biggest-ever TV audience of 1.9 billion, Queen performed some of their greatest hits, during which the sold-out stadium audience of 72,000 people clapped, sang, and swayed in unison. The show's organisers, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, other musicians such as Elton John, Cliff Richard and Dave Grohl, and music journalists writing for the BBC, CNN, Rolling Stone, MTV, The Telegraph among others, stated that Queen stole the show. An industry poll in 2005 ranked it the greatest rock performance of all time. Mercury's powerful, sustained note during the a cappella section came to be known as "The Note Heard Round the World".
When interviewed for Mojo magazine the band said the most amazing sight at Live Aid was to see the audience clapping to "Radio Ga Ga". Brian May stated: "I'd never seen anything like that in my life and it wasn't calculated either. We understood our audience and played to them but that was one of those weird accidents because of the (music) video. I remember thinking 'oh great, they've picked it up' and then I thought 'this is not a Queen audience'. This is a general audience who've bought tickets before they even knew we were on the bill. And they all did it. How did they know? Nobody told them to do it."
The band, now revitalised by the response to Live Aid – a "shot in the arm" Roger Taylor called it, — and the ensuing increase in record sales, ended 1985 by releasing the single "One Vision", which was the third time after "Stone Cold Crazy" and "Under Pressure (with David Bowie)" that all four bandmembers received a writing credit for the one song. Also, a limited-edition boxed set containing all Queen albums to date was released under the title of The Complete Works. The package included previously unreleased material, most notably Queen's non-album single of Christmas 1984, titled "Thank God It's Christmas".
In early 1986, Queen recorded the album A Kind of Magic, containing several reworkings of songs written for the fantasy action film Highlander. The album was very successful, producing a string of hits, including the title track, "A Kind of Magic". Also charting from the album were "Who Wants to Live Forever" (featuring an orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen), "Friends Will Be Friends", and the de facto theme from Highlander, "Princes of the Universe".
In summer of 1986, Queen went on their final tour with Freddie Mercury. A sold-out tour in support of A Kind of Magic, once again they hired Spike Edney. The Magic Tour's highlight was at Wembley Stadium in London and resulted in the live double album, Queen at Wembley, released on CD and as a live concert VHS/DVD, which has gone five times platinum in the US and four times platinum in the UK. Queen could not book Wembley for a third night, but they did play at Knebworth Park. The show sold out within two hours and over 120,000 fans packed the park for what was Queen's final live performance with Mercury. Queen began the tour at the Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden, and during the tour the band performed a concert at Slane Castle, Ireland, in front of an audience of 95,000, which broke the venue's attendance record. The band also played behind the Iron Curtain when they performed to a crowd of 80,000 at the Népstadion in Budapest, in what was one of the biggest rock concerts ever held in Eastern Europe. More than one million people saw Queen on the tour—400,000 in the UK alone, a record at the time.
After working on 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, using a pop-rock sound mixed with a few heavy numbers. It spawned the European hits "I Want It All", "Breakthru", "The Invisible Man", "Scandal", and "The Miracle".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 other members adding minimally. With The Miracle, the band's songwriting became more collaborative, and they vowed to credit the final product only to Queen as a group.
1988–1992: Mercury: illness, death, and tribute
"There was all that time when we knew Freddie was on the way out, we kept our heads down."
After fans noticed Mercury's increasingly gaunt appearance in 1988, the media reported that Mercury was seriously ill, with AIDS frequently being mentioned as a likely illness. Mercury flatly denied this, insisting he was merely "exhausted" and too busy to provide interviews; he was now 42 years old and had been heavily involved in music for nearly two decades. Mercury had in fact been diagnosed as being HIV positive during 1987, but did not make his illness public and denied that anything was wrong. In spite of Mercury's illness, the band decided to continue making albums, starting with The Miracle (released in the summer of 1989) and continuing with Innuendo (released at the beginning of 1991). Despite his deteriorating health, the lead singer continued to contribute. For the last two albums made while Mercury was still alive, the band credited all songs to Queen, rather than specific members of the group, freeing them of internal conflict and differences. In 1990, Queen ended their contract with Capitol and signed with Disney's Hollywood Records, which has since remained the group's music catalogue owner in the United States and Canada. In February that year, Mercury made his final public appearance when he joined the rest of Queen to collect the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Throughout 1990, media reports persisted that Mercury was seriously ill, but the singer continued to deny that these reports were true.
Innuendo was released in early 1991 with an eponymous number 1 UK hit and other charting singles released later in the year, which included "The Show Must Go On". This song, released as a forerunner to Greatest Hits II in October 1991, featured archive footage of Queen's performances between 1981 and 1989, and along with the manner of its lyrics, this continued to fuel the media reports that Mercury was dying, although this was still officially denied. Mercury was increasingly ill and could barely walk when the band recorded "The Show Must Go On" in 1990. Because of this, May had concerns about whether he was physically capable of singing it. Recalling Mercury's successful performance May states; "he went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal". The rest of the band were ready to record when Mercury felt able to come into the studio, for an hour or two at a time. May says of Mercury: "He just kept saying. 'Write me more. Write me stuff. I want to just sing this and do it and when I am gone you can finish it off.’ He had no fear, really." The band's second greatest hits compilation, Greatest Hits II, followed in October 1991, which is the eighth best-selling album of all time in the UK and has sold 16 million copies worldwide.
On 23 November 1991, in a prepared statement made on his deathbed, Mercury confirmed that he had AIDS. Within 24 hours of the statement, he died of bronchial pneumonia, which was brought on as a complication of AIDS. His funeral service on 27 November in Kensal Green, West London was private, and held in accordance with the Zoroastrian religious faith of his family. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was re-released as a single shortly after Mercury's death, with "These Are the Days of Our Lives" as the double A-side. The music video for "These Are the Days of Our Lives" contains Mercury's final scenes in front of the camera. This track had featured at the beginning of the year on the Innuendo album, and the video for it was recorded in May 1991 (which proved to be Mercury's final work with Queen). The single went to number one in the UK, remaining there for five weeks – the only recording to top the Christmas chart twice and the only one to be number one in four different years (1975, 1976, 1991, and 1992). Initial proceeds from the single – approximately £1,000,000 – were donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust, an AIDS charity.
Queen's popularity was stimulated in North America when "Bohemian Rhapsody" was featured in the 1992 comedy film Wayne's World. Its inclusion helped the song reach number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks in 1992 (including its 1976 chart run, it remained in the Hot 100 for a combined 41 weeks), and won the band an MTV Award at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. The compilation album Classic Queen also reached number four on the Billboard 200, and is certified three times platinum in the US.Wayne's World footage was used to make a new music video for "Bohemian Rhapsody", with which the band and management were delighted.
On 20 April 1992, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was held at London's Wembley Stadium to a 72,000-strong crowd. Performers, including Def Leppard, Robert Plant, Guns N' Roses, Elton John, David Bowie, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Seal, Extreme, and Metallica performed various Queen songs along with the three remaining Queen members (and Spike Edney.) The concert is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as "The largest rock star benefit concert", as it was televised to over 1.2 billion viewers worldwide, and raised over £20,000,000 for AIDS charities.
1995–2003: Made in Heaven to 46664 Concert
Queen's last album featuring Mercury, titled Made in Heaven, was finally released in 1995, four years after his death. Featuring tracks such as "Too Much Love Will Kill You" and "Heaven for Everyone", it was constructed from Mercury's final recordings in 1991, material left over from their previous studio albums and re-worked material from May, Taylor, and Mercury's solo albums. The album also featured the song "Mother Love", the last vocal recording Mercury made, which he completed using a drum machine, over which May, Taylor and Deacon later added the instrumental track. After completing the penultimate verse, Mercury had told the band he "wasn't feeling that great" and stated, "I will finish it when I come back, next time"; however, he never made it back into the studio, so May later recorded the final verse of the song. Both stages of recording, before and after Mercury's death, were completed at the band's studio in Montreux, Switzerland. The album reached No. 1 in the UK following its release, their ninth number one album, and sold 20 million copies worldwide. On 25 November 1996, a statue of Mercury was unveiled in Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva, almost five years to the day since his death.
"You guys should go out and play again. It must be like having a Ferrari in the garage waiting for a driver."
In 1997, Queen returned to the studio to record "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)", a song dedicated to Mercury and all those that die too soon. It was released as a bonus track on the Queen Rocks compilation album later that year. In January 1997, Queen performed "The Show Must Go On" live with Elton John and the Béjart Ballet in Paris on a night Mercury was remembered, and it marked the last performance and public appearance of John Deacon, who chose to retire. The Paris concert was only the second time Queen had played live since Mercury's death, prompting Elton John to urge them to perform again.
Brian May and Roger Taylor performed together at several award ceremonies and charity concerts, sharing vocals with various guest singers. During this time, they were billed as Queen + followed by the guest singer's name. In 1998, the duo appeared at Luciano Pavarotti's benefit concert with May performing "Too Much Love Will Kill You" with Pavarotti, later playing "Radio Ga Ga", "We Will Rock You", and "We Are the Champions" with Zucchero. They again attended and performed at Pavarotti's benefit concert in Modena, Italy in May 2003. Several of the guest singers recorded new versions of Queen's hits under the Queen + name, such as Robbie Williams providing vocals for "We Are the Champions" for the soundtrack of A Knight's Tale (2001).