As many individuals are aware, Queen was very much the beginning of modern rock. The four-man rock band accomplished and contributed an extraordinary amount to the field of music. Many individuals admire this band for their songs, the members, and the enthusiasm that their music brought out. In fact, the longest recorded fan club is the Queen fan club (Anderson). There have been many Queen cover bands, however, none can compare to the richness and enthusiasm that Queen expressed in their music. Queen’s music is still some of the most incredible music in existence, and their legacy will last forever.
The beginning of Queen was the beginning of a dramatic change in music. Queen originated with only two musicians; Brian May (guitarist) and Tim Staffell (bassist). They met and began playing music together at Imperial College. Shortly after, a drummer by the name of Roger Taylor joined, and the three musicians named their band “Smile.” After concluding that nobody was interested in their music, Smile decided to break up, and join separate bands. However, one musician changed the world for them; this was Freddie Mercury.
Freddie Mercury was a fan of Smile when they were in existence. When he learned that they had broken up, Freddie fixed it, and named the “new” band “Queen”; many individuals believe that he named the band this in part because of his homosexuality; however, he never claimed that that was the reason. The new band now consisted of Brian May, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, and John Deacon. The band struggled significantly at first, but little did they know the fame and recognition that had yet to come (“Band History”).
When individuals think of Queen, they most often think of the vocalist, Freddie Mercury. Freddie was first born as Farrokh Bulsara, and as a child, he attended a boarding school in India where he learned how to play piano as well as learn how to play music with other people (“Freddie Mercury: British Singer and Songwriter”). As an adult, Mercury attended college in London, and began singing for local bands (“Freddie Mercury: British Singer and Songwriter”). When Freddie was mainly playing with Queen, he quit the other bands he was in, and focused on songwriting, performing, and recording with Queen (“Band History”). In fact, Freddie was even the individual who created the famous “Queen sign” that is found on album covers.
Freddie was very well known for his extravagant and monumental four-octave vocal range (“Freddie Mercury Biography”). This was a major contribution to Queen’s music; the band would not have been the same without his voice. In fact, according to music-star, Seal, “[Freddie Mercury was] Definitely one of the greatest performers that ever lived. His ability to deliver a vocal was second to none” (Seal). Freddie Mercury lived a short life of only forty-five years before he passed away. On November 23rd, 1991, Freddie released to the public that he had been diagnosed with AIDS; on November 24th, 1991, he was found deceased (“Freddie Mercury Biography”). His death was mourned in every country around the world.
Brian May, one of the two original band members in Smile, was the guitarist for Queen. From a young age, Brian had an extreme passion for music. However, up until his time with Queen, he kept his passion for music as a hobby, and focused on his love for science. When Brian was in his teenage years, his father helped him construct a guitar; Brian never gave up the guitar, and during his time with Queen, performed with it at every show and played it for every album. In college, Brian earned his bachelor’s degree in science. He was almost able to get his degree in astrophysics; however, he became involved with Queen, and put off getting his degree because he mainly focused on the band. He went back in the early 2000s and earned his rightful degree at the age of 60. Brian May is most often remembered the history behind his guitar; Brian released a book known as “Brian May’s Red Special: The Story of the Home-Made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the Wo” (“Brian May Biography”).
Roger Taylor, one of the original members in Smile, was the drummer, guitarist, and back-up singer for Queen. Not only was he a member of Queen, but he also was part of the band “The Cross.” He also has produced music by himself. Similar to Brian May, Roger studied the field of science in college, however, for a career, he decided to play music instead. Roger Taylor had a passion for music. In fact, because Queen stopped touring and stopped producing music, Roger organized “The Queen Extravaganza,” which was a group that performed Queen’s songs and played a part in preserving what Queen had brought to the world (“Roger Taylor Biography”).
The last member of the band is a man named John Deacon, and he played guitar, drums, and was a vocalist for Queen. From a young age, Deacon was musically talented, and absolutely adored playing music. John was not a part of Queen from the very beginning; however, he did see them perform, and like others, he was not impressed by their music. When Freddie joined Queen, Roger agreed to audition, and after being accepted, Queen’s slots had been filled. All of the band members were songwriters, and they were all very talented. However, Roger took initiative on many of Queen’s hits: “You’re My Best Friend,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “I Want to Break Free.” Although John was typically quiet, his way of performing is believed to be unbelievable (“John Deacon Biography”).
In 1973, five years after Brian and Tim had only thought about the possibility of a band, Queen recorded and released their first album “Queen.” Within this, songs such as “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Seven Seas of Rhye” gained popularity and resulted in them having the opportunity to be the opening band for Mott The Hoople on tour. Following, in March 1974, Queen’s second album “Queen II” was released, and became extremely popular! This popularity resulted in tours in Blackpool, England, as well as the United States of America tour with Mott The Hoople. Because Brian became ill during the USA tour, the band (Queen) was forced to end their tour early, leaving many Americans in disappointment (“Band History”).
However, in November 1974, only several months after having to leave the USA tour early, Queen released an album that hit the top of the charts. This album is known as “Sheer Heart Attack.” Not only was it popular in England, but it gained popularity from all over the world. Little did they know that this was just the beginning of their fame. As a result of this popularity, they had the opportunity to go on their own tour in the United States. Upon arriving, the hit-band found out that all of their shows had been sold out! After the United States tour, Queen made their way to Canada, then on tour to Japan (“Band History”).
One of Queen’s most recognized and famous songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” was released in 1975. After being played on the radio fourteen times within a two-day period, the song gained national attention and became a hit (“Band History”). There is a deep meaning behind the lyrics in Bohemian Rhapsody. During the time that this was released, Mercury was starting to see things differently in his life, and this includes his sexuality (“Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen”). Freddie had married a woman named Mary Austin; however, shortly after Queen’s release of Bohemian Rhapsody, she suspected that he was in the closet about being bisexual and encouraged him to come out (Thomas). The lyrics in Bohemian Rhapsody are the shadow in front of Freddie’s coming out. For example, the lyrics, “Mama, I just killed a man,” actually mean that he killed the heterosexual Freddie that was inside of him, and the homosexual Freddie was the person who was now free (“Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen”). The lyrics to the song tell the audience that Freddie had killed the old him, and that he is beginning a new life (“Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen”).
The day was September 18th, 1976, and at this point in time, Queen had released several big hits and multiple albums; they were gaining popularity by the second. Queen had decided that because of their huge success and fortune, that they should put on a free concert in Hyde Park, London, to say thank you. Surprising at the time, over 150,000 people showed up to the free concert! To this day, the individuals who attended the concert still reminisce about Mercury’s vibrato, the musician’s enthusiasm, and the capacity of the concert. This concert went down in history (QUEEN LIVE).
In 1977, Queen released the album News of the World, which ended up becoming very popular with Queen fans. News of the World included some of Queen’s greatest hits including “We Will Rock You”, “We are the Champions”, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Bell). “We Will Rock You” was a very different type of song that Queen’s audience had never really experienced before (Bell). In fact, according to Max Bell, “With overdubs and delay, ‘We Will Rock You’ provided a two-minute adrenaline overdose that delighted and stunned listeners who dropped stylus on News of the World for the very first time on 28 October 1977” (Bell).
Freddie Mercury composed the song “We are the Champions,” which ended up gaining national attention upon its release (“We Are the Champions by Queen”). Freddie was in search of a victorious song; one that could be played at sports events that outlined being victorious (“We Are the Champions by Queen”). In addition, Freddie also saw the song being played as celebratory in light of celebrations and achievements (“We Are the Champions by Queen”). News of the World was Queen’s seventh album, and many individuals admire(d) Queen for it.
In 1980, Queen released the album The Game, which would change music forever. The Game was not like anything that Queen had ever produced before. At this point in time, synthesizers were becoming popular, so Queen perceived this as being a good opportunity-even when fans were not exactly fans of synthesizers Within the album, “Another One Bites the Dust” was released (Rivadavia). In “Another One Bites the Dust,” there are not any synthesizers used (“Another One Bites the Dust”). Interestingly, it is possible that “Another One Bites the Dust” was promoting drug use or even communicating to listeners that the band was involved in drugs; if you play the lyrics “Another one bites the dust” backwards, the song says “Decide to smoke marijuana” very clearly (“Another One Bites the Dust”). If it were not for Michael Jackson, then this hit would not have been released; Jackson advised Queen that it would be a very good idea to release “Another One Bites the Dust (Luling).
Several years after Freddie had died, Queen released the last album that they would ever produce. It was released in honor of their dear friend, singer, and band member, Freddie. Fortunately, Queen was able to record most of the music during the time in which their beloved vocalist was still alive, and they had made it a mission to accomplish this before he passed. In fact, according to Brian May, “I think our plan was to go in there whenever Freddie felt well enough, just to make as much use of him as much as possible” (Deriso).
Freddie was not well during the recording of Queen’s final album, and even though he was suffering, he made a point to be with his best friends when they recorded their final album. According to Brian May, “Even as his health sharply declined, Mercury was putting down vocals, right up until September 1991, when he stopped short of completing a track called “mother love.” By November, Mercury was dead” (Deriso). Freddie passed in 1991, and although they were able to record most of the music, after Freddie died, the three band members could not bring themselves to finish it for several years following Mercury’s death. Therefore, the album was not released until 1995 (Deriso).
In 2018, the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was released in honor of Queen with the intent of telling Queen’s story. Bryan Singer, the director of Bohemian Rhapsody, had a goal of telling the story of the band who changed rock music and history forever. Within the movie, Singer depicts Freddie as a flamboyant, sexy, driven, and sweet rockstar. He strived for the audience to see what kind of person Freddie was (Gleiberman). Rami Malek was portrayed as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and received an abundance of marvelous reviews. However, many individuals understand that the film lacks much of what the band went through, and portrayed Freddie in an inaccurate way (Linden). According to Sherri Linden, “The Rough Edges of Freddie Mercury’s story might be smoothed over in this telling, the indulgences and debauchery sugarcoated” (Linden).
Over the course of several decades, Queen changed and revolutionized rock music. Rock music would certainly not be what it is today without Queen. Freddie, John, Roger, and Brian worked so diligently, enthusiastically, and well together; the four-man band accomplished much in their time of existence. From releasing “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “We Will Rock You” to “We are the Champions,” Queen was not like any other band that had existed. Queen’s legacy will last forever.
- Anderson, Sarah. “50 Geeky Facts About Queen.” NME, NME, 25 Nov. 2015, www.nme .com/photos/50-geeky-facts-about-queen-1419950. Accessed 18 November 2018.
- “Another One Bites the Dust.” Song Meanings at Songfacts, Songfacts, www.songfacts.com/facts/queen/another-one-bites-the-dust. Accessed 24 November 2018.
- “Band History.” Queenpedia, www.queenpedia.com/index.php?title=Band_History . Accessed 18 November 2018.
- Bell, Max. “News of the World: Making Headlines Around The Globe For Queen.” UDiscoverMusic, UDiscoverMusic, 28 Oct. 2018, www.udiscovermusic.com/behind-the-albums/queen-news-of-the-world/. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- “Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.” Song Meanings at Songfacts, Songfacts, www.songfacts.com/fact s/queen/bohemian-rhapsody. Accessed 18 November 2018.
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- Deriso, Nick. “How Queen Pulled Together for Final Triumph, ‘Made in Heaven’.” Ultimate Classic Rock, Ultimate Classic Rock, 6 Nov. 2015, ultimateclassicrock.com/queen- made-in-heaven/. Accessed 20 November 2018.
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- “Freddie Mercury: British Singer and Songwriter.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Freddie-Mercury. Accessed 18 November 2018.
- Gleiberman, Owen. “Film Review: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.” Variety, Variety, 25 Oct. 2018, variety.com/2018/film/reviews/bohemian-rhapsody-review-rami-malek-freddie-mercury- queen-1202989409/. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- “John Deacon Biography.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 8 July 2014, www.biography.com/people/john-deacon-21213183. Accessed 25 November 2018.
- Linden, Sheri. “’Bohemian Rhapsody’: Film Review.” The Hollywood Reporter, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Oct. 2018, www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/bohemian-rhapsody- review-1150772. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- Luling, Todd Van. “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Queen, Even If You Know Every Word Of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/05/queen-band-didnt- know_n_5768476.html. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- QUEEN LIVE – Information on Concerts; Reviews, Pictures, and More, www.queenlive. ca/queen/76-09-18.htm. Accessed 19 November 2018.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. “How Queen Reached a Turning Point With ‘The Game’.” Ultimate Classic Rock, 30 June 2015, ultimateclassicrock.com/queen-the-game/. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- “Roger Taylor Biography.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 8 July 2014, www.biography.com/people/roger-taylor-21213223. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- Seal. “Quotes about Freddie.” Freddie Mercury, www.freddiemercury.com/en/quotes_ab out_Freddie. Accessed 18 November 2018.
- Thomas, Helen. “Mary Austin Was Devoted to Freddie Mercury until His Death-but Who Is She?” The Sun, The Sun, 20 Nov. 2018, www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/7769912/mary- austin-freddie-mercury-friend-bohemian-rhapsody/. Accessed 20 November 2018.
- “We Are the Champions by Queen.” Song Meanings at Songfacts, Songfacts, www.songfacts.com/facts/queen/we-are-the-champions. Accessed 20 November 2018.