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Queen

Few 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 Queen, pushing them toward kitschy humor and pseudo-classical arrangements, as epitomized on their best-known song, "Bohemian Rhapsody." Mercury, it must be said, was a flamboyant bisexual who managed to keep his sexuality in the closet until his death from AIDS in 1991. Through his legendary theatrical performances, Queen became one of the most popular bands in the world in the mid-'70s; in England, they remained second only to the Beatles in popularity and collectibility in the '90s. Despite their enormous popularity, Queen were never taken seriously by rock critics -- an infamous Rolling Stone review labeled their 1979 album Jazz as "fascist." In spite of such harsh criticism, the band's popularity rarely waned; even in the late '80s, the group retained a fanatical following except in America. In the States, their popularity peaked in the early '80s, just as they finished nearly a decade's worth of extraordinarily popular records. And while those records were never praised, they sold in enormous numbers, and traces of Queen's music could be heard in several generations of hard rock and metal bands in the next two decades, from Metallica to Smashing Pumpkins.

The origins of Queen lay in the hard rock psychedelic group Smile, which guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor joined in 1967. Following the departure of Smile's lead vocalist, Tim Staffell, in 1971, May and Taylor formed a group with Freddie Mercury, the former lead singer for Wreckage. Within a few months, bassist John Deacon joined them, and they began rehearsing. Over the next two years, as all four members completed college, they simply rehearsed, playing just a handful of gigs. By 1973, they had begun to concentrate on their career, releasing their debut album, Queen, that year and setting out on their first tour. Queen was more or less a straight metal album and failed to receive much acclaim, but Queen II became an unexpected British breakthrough early in 1974. Before its release, the band played Top of the Pops, performing "Seven Seas of Rhye." Both the song and the performance were smash successes, and the single rocketed into the Top Ten, setting the stage for Queen II to reach number five. Following its release, the group embarked on its first American tour, supporting Mott the Hoople. On the strength of their campily dramatic performances, the album climbed to number 43 in the States.

Queen released their third album, Sheer Heart Attack, before the end of 1974. The music hall-meets-Zeppelin "Killer Queen" climbed to number two on the U.K. charts, taking the album to number two as well. Sheer Heart Attack made some inroads in America as well, setting the stage for the breakthrough of 1975's A Night at the Opera. Queen labored long and hard over the record; according to many reports, it was the most expensive rock record ever made at the time of its release. The first single from the record, "Bohemian Rhapsody," became Queen's signature song, and with its bombastic, mock-operatic structure punctuated by heavy metal riffing, it encapsulates their music. It is also the symbol for their musical excesses -- the song took three weeks to record, and there were so many vocal overdubs on the record that it was possible to see through the tape at certain points. To support "Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen shot one of the first conceptual music videos, and the gamble paid off as the single spent nine weeks at number one in England, breaking the record for the longest run at number one. The song and A Night at the Opera were equally successful in America, as the album climbed into the Top Ten and quickly went platinum.

Following A Night at the Opera, Queen were established as superstars, and they quickly took advantage of all their status had to offer. Their parties and indulgence quickly became legendary in the rock world, yet they continued to work at a rapid rate. In the summer of 1976, they performed a free concert at London's Hyde Park that broke attendance records, and they released the hit single "Somebody to Love" a few months later. It was followed by A Day at the Races, which was essentially a scaled-down version of A Night at the Opera that reached number one in the U.K. and number five in the U.S. They continued to pile up hit singles in both Britain and America over the next five years, as each of their albums went into the Top Ten, always going gold and usually platinum in the process. Because Queen embraced such mass success and adoration, they were scorned by the rock press, especially when they came to represent all of the worst tendencies of the old guard in the wake of punk. Nevertheless, the public continued to buy Queen records. Featuring the Top Five double-A-sided single "We Are the Champions"/"We Will Rock You," News of the World became a Top Ten hit in 1977. The following year, Jazz nearly replicated that success, with the single "Fat Bottomed Girls"/"Bicycle Race" becoming an international hit despite the massive bad publicity surrounding their media stunt of staging a nude female bicycle race.

Queen were at the height of their popularity as they entered the '80s, releasing The Game, their most diverse album to date, in 1980. On the strength of two number one singles -- the campy rockabilly "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and the disco-fied "Another One Bites the Dust" -- The Game became the group's first American number one album. However, the bottom fell out of the group's popularity, particularly in the U.S., shortly afterward. Their largely instrumental soundtrack to Flash Gordon was coldly received later in 1980. With the help of David Bowie, Queen were able to successfully compete with new wave with the 1981 hit single "Under Pressure" -- their first U.K. number one since "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- which was included both on their 1981 Greatest Hits and 1982's Hot Space. Instead of proving the group's vitality, "Under Pressure" was a last gasp. Hot Space was only a moderate hit, and the more rock-oriented The Works (1984) also was a minor hit, with only "Radio Ga Ga" receiving much attention. Shortly afterward, they left Elektra and signed with Capitol.

Faced with their decreased popularity in the U.S. and waning popularity in Britain, Queen began touring foreign markets, cultivating a large, dedicated fan base in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, continents that most rock groups ignored. In 1985, they returned to popularity in Britain in the wake of their showstopping performance at Live Aid. The following year, they released A Kind of Magic to strong European sales, but they failed to make headway in the States. The same fate befell 1989's The Miracle, yet 1991's Innuendo was greeted more favorably, going gold and peaking at number 30 in the U.S. Nevertheless, it still was a far bigger success in Europe, entering the U.K. charts at number one.

By 1991, Queen had drastically scaled back their activity, causing many rumors to circulate about Freddie Mercury's health. On November 23, he issued a statement confirming that he was stricken with AIDS; he died the next day. The following spring, the remaining members of Queen held a memorial concert at Wembley Stadium that was broadcast to an international audience of more than one billion. Featuring such guest artists as David Bowie, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Def Leppard, and Guns N' Roses, the concert raised millions for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, which was established for AIDS awareness. The concert coincided with a revival of interest in "Bohemian Rhapsody," which climbed to number two in the U.S. and number one in the U.K. in the wake of its appearance in the Mike Myers comedy Wayne's World.

Following Mercury's death, the remaining members of Queen were fairly quiet. Brian May released his second solo album, Back to the Light, in 1993, ten years after the release of his first record. Roger Taylor cut a few records with the Cross, which he had been playing with since 1987, while Deacon essentially retired. The three reunited in 1994 to record backing tapes for vocal tracks Mercury recorded on his deathbed. The resulting album, Made in Heaven, was released in 1995 to mixed reviews and strong sales, particularly in Europe. Crown Jewels, a box set repackaging their first eight LPs, followed in 1998. Archival live recordings, DVDs, and compilations kept appearing through the new millennium. The Queen name was revived in 2005, but this time with "+ Paul Rodgers" appended to it. Rodgers, the former lead singer of Free and Bad Company, joined Brian May and Roger Taylor (John Deacon remained retired) for several live shows, one of which was documented on 2005's Return of the Champions, a double-disc release issued by the Hollywood label. International touring continued, as did a new studio album featuring Rodgers' vocals. Released under the "Queen + Paul Rodgers" tag, The Cosmos Rocks appeared in September 2008, followed by an American release one month later. Reception was decidedly mixed.

Rodgers departed from Queen in 2009 and in his wake came a new compilation called Absolute Greatest. TV appearances followed over the next two years, including a spot on the 2009 American Idol finale where they performed with Adam Lambert, and then in 2010 Queen wound up leaving their home of EMI for Island, which brought all of the group's recordings to Universal Records. A new round of reissues followed in 2011, along with a performance with Lambert at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and the vocalist soon became a fixture with the band, as Queen performed several big concerts and television performances in 2012 and 2013, followed by a full tour in 2014. That year, Queen released another compilation called Forever. Anchored by reworked versions of three old songs, including a solo number by Mercury where he duetted with Michael Jackson, Forever appeared in time for the holiday season of 2014. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

I love this song
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
'Murica
Not bad but, awesome
QUEEN!
dgrap-bravo on your perfect description of the world's greatest group!
Bohemian Rhapsody and Queen were light-years ahead of their time! No band (and no singer like Freddie Mercury) has embodied the great rock of the 70's and 80's like they did.....and have ever since.
You guys are awasome
Aerosmith and queen are by far the best rock bands
Awesome awesome awesome
omg queen u r so right doesn't matter what happens friends will friends right til the end what a beautiful song ily Freddie
Don't read this because it actually works you will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life tomorrow will be the best day of your life however if you don't post this you will die in two days now you've started reading so don't it's so scary put this on five songs in 143 minutes when done press F6 and your lovers name or pier on the screen in big letters
I would die if this song was not made because it is sooooooooooo o o o o o o o o o o good
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in two days now you've started reading so don't it's so scary put this on 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters.
You can reduce me to tears with a single sigh
Listen to the warning the seer he said
This is one of my favorite songs from Queen! Freddie Mercury rest in peace!
BOOOOOOO I HATE QUEEN!!!
I will rock you too
Christi Bloomfield
This freaked me out. This isn't fake. Apparently, if you copy and paste this on ten comments in ten minutes, you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either be kissed or asked out. If you break this chain, you will see a little girl in your room tonight. In the next 53 minutes someone will say I love you or I'm sorry.
Queen is the best
puppylions12 3 9 8 7
Queen is life
fat bottom girls
Rain = log fire
Phssssss this sucks
dawnfin4
Best singer ever!
when wills die in sorrow and grieving, all lives plays to deaths agony who's expectation give no reprieve as forever a life brings endless belief that eternity grants no longing for ones love lost by time not belonging and distance closes all around with never a sound for hoping that passion will come again as lost souls are found and then new life stays but ends unbound with death all around with no heart to gain the day then who wants to live forever any way
Another one bites the dust
This song sucks
nrivers16
The aids epidemic was devastating God Bless
every body loves that f**king song
I like we will rock you from queen
There never will be a more talented band than Queen
1. Kiss your left hand 2. As your crushes name 3. Close your hand 4. Say a school day 5. Post this on 15 songs and your will ask you out
Love them
Mama just killed a man oooooh
Not bad
jbucher725
Love Queen, and Freddie Mercury was the best.
Why must it be said what his sexual orientation was? Just concentrate on the music and enjoy it.
crazy little thing called love
yay
mkyffin03
Another one rides the bus
I remember this song playing at my uncle's wedding.
This song always plays in my head when I when a game lol
edithmarquez 8 9 2
It would be great if it had lyrics
edithmarquez 8 9 2
Love it����❤️❤️
So good like allways at baseball games
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
In the last couple of years,Adam Lambert has joined Queen, as lead singer, in concerts around the world .Brian May has said that Adam Lambert's voice is one in a billion.They have had sold out concerts and continue to excite and impress with Mr. Lambert who has soaring vocals,match e d only by his exciting performance skills.. Queen and Adam Lambert just won Rock's Band of the year for 2014.
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