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Queen

Queen performing live in Frankfurt, Germany (1984)
l-r: John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor (back).
Background information
Origin London, England, UK
Genres Rock
Years active 1970 – present[1]
Labels EMI, Elektra, Capitol, Parlophone, Hollywood
Associated acts Smile, The Cross, Queen + Paul Rodgers
Website QueenOnline.com
Members
Brian May
Roger Taylor
Former members
Freddie Mercury
John Deacon

Queen are a British rock band that formed in 1970. The band originally consisted of lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon, and drummer Roger Taylor. Queen have been described as giving the greatest live performance ever,[2] producing the greatest single in history,[3] and being the best British band of all time.[4] They have released 15 studio albums, five live albums and numerous compilation albums. In 2009, the band's record label EMI reported their worldwide album sales as over 300 million, as did the BBC and other independent sources.[5][6][7][8][9]

Queen enjoyed success in the UK during the early 1970s but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera (1975) that gained the band international success, both critically and commercially.[10] The latter featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", which stayed at number one in the UK charts for nine weeks.[11] Their success continued through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In 1987, Mercury was diagnosed HIV positive and in 1991 died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS. Deacon's retirement followed in 1997.[12] Since then, May and Taylor have infrequently performed together at special events and programmes. Queen were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.[13] Between 2004 and 2009 the duo collaborated with Paul Rodgers under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers.[14]

Contents

History

Early days (1968–1974)

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 the 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. Smile signed to Mercury Records in 1970 and had their first session in a recording studio in Trident Studios that year.[citation needed]

While attending Ealing Art College Tim Staffell became friends with Farrokh Bulsara, a fellow student who had assumed the English name of Freddie. Mercury felt that he and the band had the same tastes and soon became a keen fan of Smile. In late 1970, after Staffell left to join the band Humpy Bong, the remaining Smile members, encouraged by Freddie, changed their name to "Queen" and continued working together.[15] When asked about the name, Freddie explained, "I thought up the name Queen. It's just a name, but it's very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It's a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it."[15]

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, however no record companies were interested.[16] It was also around this time Freddie changed his name to 'Mercury', inspired by the line "Mother Mercury, look what they've done to me," in the song My Fairy King.[17]

In 1973, after a series of delays, Queen released their eponymous debut album, an effort influenced by the heavy metal and progressive rock of the day. The album was received well by critics; Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone said "their debut album is superb",[18] and Chicago's Daily Herald called it an "above average debut".[19] However, it drew little mainstream attention and the lead single "Keep Yourself Alive", a Brian May composition, sold poorly.

The group's second LP Queen II was released in 1974. The album reached number five on the British album charts and became the first Queen album to chart in the UK.[20] and the Freddie Mercury-written lead single "Seven Seas of Rhye",[20] reached number ten in the UK, giving the band their first hit. Their heaviest and darkest release, the album features long complex instrumental passages, fantasy-themed lyrics and musical virtuosity.[21] The band toured as support for Mott the Hoople in the UK and US during this period, and they began to gain notice for their energetic and engaging stage shows.[citation needed] Allmusic has described the album as a favourite among the band's hardcore fans,[22] and it is the first of three Queen albums to feature in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[23] However, like its predecessor, sales of Queen II in the US were low.

Breakthrough era (1974–1976)

l-r: John Deacon, Brian May, and Freddie Mercury seen live in 1978
Queen in 1978

Brian May was absent when the band started work on their third album, Sheer Heart Attack, released in 1974. The album reached number two in the United Kingdom,[24] sold well throughout Europe, and went gold in the United States.[25] It gave the band their first real taste of commercial success. 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-oriented 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" reached number two in the British charts,[20] and became their first US hit, reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.[26] It combines camp, vaudeville, British music hall with May’s guitar virtuosity. The album’s second single, "Now I’m Here", a more traditional hard rock composition, was a number eleven hit in Britain. In 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",[27] and in 2007, Mojo ranked it #88 in "The 100 Records That Changed the World."[28] It is also the second of three Queen albums to feature in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[23]

In 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. While the band toured Japan in April, the band's manager Jim Beach successfully negotiated the band out of their Trident contract. 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.[29]

Freddie Mercury during a live concert in 1978
Mercury live in 1978.

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.[30] 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 album was very successful in Britain,[20] and went triple platinum in the United States.[25] The British public voted it the 13th greatest album of all time in a 2004 Channel 4 poll[31] And has also ranked highly in international polls: in a worldwide Guinness poll, it was voted the 19th greatest all time,[32] while an ABC poll saw the Australian public vote it the 28th greatest of all time.[33] 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.[34] It was also featured as one of Rolling Stone's "500 greatest albums of all time" in 2003.[35] 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.[23]

The album also featured the hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody" which was number one in the UK for nine weeks,[20] and is Britain’s third-best-selling single of all time; beaten only by Band Aid's Do They Know it's Christmas? and Elton John's Candle in the Wind 1997 – making it the best selling commercial single in the UK. It also reached number nine in the United States (a 1992 re-release reached number two).[26] It is the only single ever to sell a million copies on two separate occasions,[36] and became the Christmas number one twice in the UK; the only single ever to achieve this. Bohemian Rhapsody has been voted, numerous times, the greatest song of all time.[37][38] The band decided to make a video to go with the single; the result is generally considered to have been the first "true" music video ever produced.[39] (Although other bands, including The Beatles, had made short promotional films or videos of songs prior to this, generally those were specifically made to be aired on specific television shows). "Bohemian Rhapsody" was the first to be available to any TV station willing to play it, for promotional purposes. The second single from the album, "You're My Best Friend", the second song composed by John Deacon, and his first single, peaked at sixteen in the United States[26] and went on to become a worldwide Top Ten hit.[40]

Continued success (1976–1979)

By 1976, Queen were back in the studio recording A Day at the Races, which may be seen by some as a companion album to A Night at the Opera.[41] It again borrowed the name of a Marx Brothers' movie, and its cover was similar to that of A Night at the Opera, a variation on the same Queen Crest. Musically, the album was by both fans’ and critics’ standards a strong effort, and reached number one on the British charts.[20] The major hit on the album was "Somebody to Love", a gospel-inspired song in which Mercury, May, and Taylor multi-tracked their voices to make a 100-voice gospel choir. The song went to number two in the United Kingdom,[20] and number thirteen on the US singles chart.[26]. The album also featured one of the band's heaviest songs, Brian May’s "Tie Your Mother Down", which became a staple of their live shows.[42]

During the same year Queen played one of their most famous gigs, a 1976 free concert in Hyde Park, London. It set an attendance record, with 150,000 people confirmed in the audience.[43]

News of the World was released a year later. It contained many songs tailor-made for live performance, including "We Will Rock You" and the rock ballad "We Are the Champions", both of which reached number four in the United States and became enduring international sports anthems.[26]

Brian May during a live concert in 1978.
May, seen live in concert in 1978.

In 1978 the band released Jazz, which included the hit single double a side single "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Race". This album was "the target of a bizarre marketing campaign, in which sixty-five naked women were perched atop bicycles rented from Halford's Cycles and sent racing around Wimbledon Stadium." [44] The word "jazz" was not used in a strict sense, and the album was noted by critics for its collection of different styles, jazz not being one of them.[45] Rolling Stone Magazine criticised it for being "dull", saying "Queen hasn’t the imagination to play jazz – Queen hasn't the imagination, for that matter, to play rock & roll."[45] Notable tracks from the album include "Dead on Time", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Let Me Entertain You", and "Mustapha", in which Arabesque music is combined with heavy rock guitar.

The band’s first live album, Live Killers, was released in 1979; it went platinum twice in the United States.[46] They also released the very successful single "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", a rockabilly song done in the style of Elvis Presley. The song made the top 10 in many countries, and was the band’s first number one single in the United States.[26]

New sound and synthesisers (1980–1984)

Queen began the 1980s 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 United States.[26] The album stayed number one for four weeks in the United States,[47] and sold over four million copies.[25] It was also the only album to ever top the Billboard rock, dance, and R&B charts simultaneously and marked 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,[48] 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.[49]

1980 also saw the release of the soundtrack Queen had recorded for Flash Gordon.

In 1981, Queen became the first major rock band to play in Latin American stadiums. Queen played to a total audience of 479,000 people on their South American tour, including five shows in Argentina and two in Brazil where they played to an audience of more than 130,000 people in the first night and more than 120,000 people the following night at São Paulo (Morumbi Stadium). In October of the same year, Queen performed for more than 150,000 fans on October 9 at Monterrey (Estadio Universitario) and 17 and 18 at Puebla (Estadio Zaragoza), Mexico.

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.[50] The band were immediately pleased with the results, but Bowie did not play the song live for several years.[citation needed] Upon its release, the song was extremely successful, reaching number one in Britain. The bass line was later used for Vanilla Ice's 1990 hit "Ice Ice Baby".[51]

Later that same year, Queen released their first compilation album, entitled Greatest Hits, which showcased the group's highlights from 1974–1981. It was highly successful, and as of 2007, it is the United Kingdom's best selling album.[52] Taylor became the first member of the band to release his own solo album in 1981, entitled Fun In Space.

Queen during a live concert in Norway in 1982
Queen concert in Norway, 1982.

In 1982 the band released the funk album Hot Space. The bands had stopped 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. Queen left Elektra Records, their label in the United States, 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 did however record a new album, and several members of the band explored side projects and solo work. May released a mini-album entitled Star Fleet Project, on which he collaborated with Eddie Van Halen.

In 1984, Queen released the album The Works, which included the successful singles "Radio Ga Ga" and "I Want to Break Free". Despite these hit singles, the album failed to do well in the United States. "Radio Ga Ga" was the band's last original American Top Forty hit until 1989's "I Want It All".

Queen embarked that year on the The Works Tour, the first tour to feature keyboardist Spike Edney as an extra live musician. The tour featured several dates in Bophuthatswana, South Africa, at the arena at Sun City.[53] Upon returning to England, they were the subject of outrage, having played there during the height of apartheid and in violation of worldwide divestment efforts. The band responded to the critics by stating that they were playing music for fans in that country, and they also stressed that the concerts were played before integrated audiences.

Live Aid and later years (1985–1990)

On 12 January 1985, the band headlined two nights of the first Rock in Rio festival at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). They were the main act on the 11 and 18 January line-ups. On each night, they played in front of over 300,000 people. A selection of highlights of both performances was released on VHS on May with the title Queen Live in Rio.

At Live Aid, held at Wembley on 13 July 1985, Queen performed some of their greatest hits in what has been considered their best performance to date.[54] The band, now revitalised by the response to Live Aid and the ensuing increase in record sales, ended 1985 by releasing the single "One Vision". The song was used in the film Iron Eagle. 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 Russell Mulcahy 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 "Friends Will Be Friends", "Who Wants to Live Forever?", and the de facto theme from Highlander, "Princes of the Universe".

Later that year, Queen went on a sold-out tour in support of A Kind of Magic, once again they hired Spike Edney, leading to him being dubbed the unofficial fifth member.[55][56] The Magic Tour's highlight was at Wembley Stadium in London and resulted in the live double album, Queen Live At Wembley Stadium, released on CD and as a live concert film. They 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 proved to be Queen's final live performance with Mercury.[57] More than 1 million people saw Queen on the tour – 400,000 in the United Kingdom alone, a record at the time.[53]

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, however, the band's songwriting became more collaborative, and they vowed to credit the final product only to Queen as a group.[58]

Mercury's death and beyond (1991–2003)

There was all that time when we knew Freddie was on the way out, we kept our heads down.

—Brian May[59]

After fans noticed Mercury's gaunt appearance during 1988, rumours began to spread that Mercury was suffering from AIDS. Mercury flatly denied these, insisting he was merely "exhausted" and too busy to provide interviews.[60] However, the band decided to continue making albums, free of internal conflict and differences, starting with The Miracle and continuing with Innuendo. Despite his deteriorating health, Mercury continued to contribute. The band released Innuendo in early 1991, followed by their second greatest hits compilation, Greatest Hits II in the October of that year.

On 23 November 1991, in a prepared statement made on his deathbed, Mercury confirmed that he had AIDS.[61] Within 24 hours of that statement, he died of bronchial pneumonia, which was brought on as a complication of AIDS. His funeral service was private, held in accordance with the Zoroastrian religious faith of his family.[62]

"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 single went to number one for the second time in the UK. Initial proceeds from the single – approximately £1,000,000 – were donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust.[63]

Queen's popularity increased once again in the United States after "Bohemian Rhapsody" was featured in the comedy film Wayne's World, helping the song reach number two for five weeks in the US charts in 1992. The song was made into a Wayne's World music video, with which the band and management were delighted.[64]

Statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux, erected following his death.
The statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux that is also featured on the cover of the album Made in Heaven (1995).

On 20 April 1992, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was held at London's Wembley Stadium. Performers, including Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses, Elton John, David Bowie, Annie Lennox and Metallica performed various Queen songs along with the three remaining Queen members. The concert is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as "The largest rock star benefit concert".[65] It was televised to over 1.2 billion viewers worldwide,[53] and raised over £20,000,000 for AIDS charities.[63]

The band also terminated their Capitol Records contract and signed a deal with Hollywood Records as their new US label.[citation needed]

Queen's last album featuring Mercury, titled Made in Heaven, was released in 1995, four years after his death. It was constructed from Mercury's final recordings in 1991, plus material left over from their previous studio albums. In addition, re-worked material from May, Taylor and Mercury's solo albums were included. May and Taylor have often been involved in projects related to raising money for AIDS research.[citation needed] In 1997, Queen returned to the studio to record "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)". It was the last song recorded by Queen with John Deacon,[citation needed] and was released as a bonus track on the Queen Rocks compilation album later that year. The song was later released as a single reaching number 13 in the UK chart.[66]

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 name of the guest singer. Several of the guest singers recorded new versions of Queen’s hits under the Queen + name, including Robbie Williams and Britney Spears.[67]

In 1999, a Greatest Hits III album was released. This featured, among others, "Queen + Wyclef Jean" on a rap version of "Another One Bites the Dust". A live version of "Somebody to Love" by George Michael; and a live version of "The Show Must Go On", recorded in 1997 with Elton John and features the last live performance of John Deacon, who retired shortly after.[68]

In 2003, four new songs by May and Taylor were performed under the Queen name for Nelson Mandela's 46664 campaign against AIDS.[citation needed]

Queen + Paul Rodgers (2004–2009)

At the end of 2004, May and Taylor announced that they would reunite and return to touring in 2005, with Paul Rodgers (founder and former lead singer of Free and Bad Company). Brian May's website also stated that Rodgers would be 'featured with' Queen as Queen + Paul Rodgers, not replacing the late Freddie Mercury. The retired John Deacon would not be participating.[69]

Between 2005 and 2006 Queen + Paul Rodgers embarked on a world tour, the first leg in Europe and the second, Japan and then the US in 2006. On 15 August 2006, Brian May confirmed through his website and fan club that Queen + Paul Rodgers would begin producing their first studio album beginning in October, to be recorded at a "secret location".[70] The album, titled The Cosmos Rocks, was released in Europe on 12 September 2008 and in the United States on 28 October 2008. Following the album the band again embarked on a tour through Europe. Opening on Kharkiv's Freedom Square in front of 350,000 Ukrainian fans. The show in Ukraine was later released on DVD.

Queen and Paul Rodgers officially split up without animosity on 12 May 2009. Rodgers did not rule out the possibility of working together again.[71][72]

Since 2009

On 20 May 2009, Brian May and Roger Taylor performed We Are the Champions live on the season finale of American Idol with winner Kris Allen and runner up Adam Lambert providing a vocal duet.[73]

In mid-2009 after the split of Queen + Paul Rodgers, the Queen online website announced a new Greatest Hits compilation named Absolute Greatest. It was released on 16 November and peaked at #3 in the official UK chart. The album contains 20 of Queen's biggest hits spanning their entire career and was released in four different formats: single disc, double disc (with commentary), double disc with feature book and a vinyl record. Prior to its release, a competition was run by Queen Online to guess the track listing, as a promotion for the album.

On 30 October 2009, Brian May wrote a fanclub letter on his website[74] stating that Queen had no intentions to tour in 2010 but that there is a possibility of a performance. Brian is quoted as saying "The greatest debate, though, is always about when we will next play together as Queen. At the moment, in spite of the many rumours that are out there, we do not have plans to tour in 2010. The good news, though, is that Roger and I have a much closer mutual understanding these days – privately and professionally … and all ideas are carefully considered. Music is never far away from us. As I write, there is an important one-off performance on offer, in the USA, and it remains to be decided whether we will take up this particular challenge. Every day, doors seem to open, and every day, we interact, perhaps more than ever before, with the world outside. It is a time of exciting transition in Rock music and in “The Business”. It’s good that the pulse still beats."

On 15 November 2009, Brian May and Roger Taylor performed Bohemian Rhapsody live on the British TV show The X Factor alongside the finalists.[75]

Musical style

Queen composed music that drew inspiration from many different genres of music, often with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Among the genres they have been associated with are: progressive rock[76], hard rock[76], glam rock[76], heavy metal[76], pop rock[76], dance/disco[77], blues-rock and psychedelic rock.[78] Queen also wrote songs that were inspired by genres that are not typically associated with rock, such as country, ragtime, opera, gospel, vaudeville and folk.

Sonic experimentation figured heavily in Queen's songs. A distinctive characteristic of Queen's music are the vocal harmonies which are usually composed of the voices of May, Mercury and Taylor best heard on the studio albums A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races. Some of the ground work for the development of this sound can be attributed to their former producer Roy Thomas Baker as well as their engineer Mike Stone. Besides vocal harmonies, Queen were also known for multi-tracking voices to imitate the sound of a large choir through overdubs. For instance, according to Brian May, there are over 180 vocal overdubs in "Bohemian Rhapsody".[79] Many Queen songs were also written with audience participation in mind, such as "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions".[80]

The Queen Logo.

The Queen logo, also known as the Queen Crest, was designed by Mercury shortly before the release of their first album. The logo features 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 are embracing a stylised letter Q, the crab is resting atop the Q 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 first album cover, was a simple line drawing but more intricate colour versions were used on later album covers.

Influence

Queen have been recognised as having made significant contributions to such genres as hard rock[81] and heavy metal,[82] amongst others. Hence the band has been cited as an influence by many other musicians. Moreover, like their music, the bands and artists that have claimed to be influenced by Queen are diverse and span different generations, countries and genres.

Some of the musicians that have cited the band as an influence include: Anthrax,[83] Ben Folds Five, [84] Blind Guardian,[85][86] Kurt Cobain,[87] Def Leppard,[88] Extreme,[89] Foo Fighters,[90] Green Day,[91] Guns N' Roses,[92] Helloween,[93] Iron Maiden,[94] ,[95] Kansas,[96] Keane,[97] Manic Street Preachers,[98] Metallica,[99] George Michael,[citation needed] Mika,[100] Muse,[101] My Chemical Romance,[102] Radiohead,[103] Trent Reznor.[104] Styx,[105] The Killers [106] and The Smashing Pumpkins.[107][108]

Queen have been cited as a major influence on the "neo-classical metal" genre by Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen.[109] Metallica recorded a cover version of "Stone Cold Crazy", which first appeared on the "Rubaiyat — Elektra's 40th Anniversary" album in 1990, and won their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1991. In the early 70s, Queen helped spur the heavy metal genre's evolution by discarding much of its blues influence;[82][94] the New Wave of British Heavy Metal followed in a similar vein, fusing the music with a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed.

Legacy

As of 2005, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, Queen albums have spent a total of 1,322 weeks or twenty-seven years on the United Kingdom album charts; more time than any other musical act.[110] Also in 2005, with the release of their live album with Paul Rodgers, Queen moved into third place on the list of acts with the most aggregate time spent on the British record charts.[111]

In 2006 the Greatest Hits album was the United Kingdom's all-time best selling album, with sales upwards of 5,407,587 copies, over 604,295 more copies than its nearest competitor, The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Their Greatest Hits II album came in seventh with sales upwards of 3,631,321 copies.[112]

The band has released a total of eighteen number one albums, eighteen number one singles, and ten number one DVDs worldwide making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Their total album sales have been estimated at over 300 million worldwide[113][114] including 32.5 million in the United States[115] alone as of 2004. The band is also the only group in which every member has composed more than one chart-topping single.[116]

One aggregate site declared "Bohemian Rhapsody" as the greatest song of all time, from an average of numerous industry polls.[117]

Queen are one of the most bootlegged bands ever, according to Nick Weymouth, who manages the band's official website.[118] A 2001 survey discovered the existence of 12,225 websites dedicated to Queen bootlegs, the highest number for any band.[119] Bootleg recordings have contributed to the band's popularity in certain countries where Western music is censored, such as Iran.[120] In a project called Queen: The Top 100 Bootlegs, many of these have been made officially available to download for a nominal fee from Queen's website, with profits going to the Mercury Phoenix Trust.[118]

Queen were named 13th on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock list[121].

In other media

Digital realm

In conjunction with Electronic Arts, Queen released the computer game Queen: The Eye in 1998, to commercial and critical failure. The music itself — tracks from Queen's vast catalogue, in many cases remixed into new instrumental versions — was by and large well received, but the game experience was hampered by poor game play. Adding to the problem was an extremely long development time, resulting in graphic elements that already seemed outdated by the time of release.

Under the supervision of May and Taylor, numerous restoration projects have been underway involving Queen's lengthy audio and video catalogue. DVD releases of their 1986 Wembley concert (titled Live At Wembley Stadium) and 1982 Milton Keynes concert (Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl), and two Greatest Video Hits (Volumes 1 and 2, spanning the 1970s and 1980s) have seen the band's music remixed into 5.1 and DTS surround sound. So far, only two of the band's albums, A Night at the Opera and The Game, have been fully remixed into high-resolution multichannel surround on DVD-Audio. A Night at the Opera was re-released with some revised 5.1 mixes and accompanying videos in 2005 for the 30th anniversary of the album's original release (CD+DVD-Video set). In 2007, a BluRay edition of Queen's previously released concerts Queen Rock Montreal & Live Aid was released together marking their first project in 1080p HD.

Queen have been featured multiple times in the Guitar Hero franchise: a cover of "Killer Queen" in the original Guitar Hero, "We Are The Champions", "Fat Bottomed Girls," and the Paul Rodgers collaboration "C-lebrity" in a track pack for Guitar Hero World Tour, and "Under Pressure" with David Bowie in Guitar Hero 5.[122] On 13 October 2009, Brian May revealed there was "talk" going on "behind the scenes" about a dedicated Queen Rock Band game.[123]

In March 2009, Sony Computer Entertainment released a Queen branded version of the company's karaoke franchise, SingStar. The game, which is available on Playstation 2 and Playstation 3, is titled SingStar Queen and has 25 songs on the PS3 and 20 on the PS2.[124]

The band also appeared in the video game, Lego Rock Band, as playable Lego avatars.[125]

"We Will Rock You" and other songs by Queen also appear in DJ Hero.[126]

Film and television

Queen contributed music directly to the movies Flash Gordon (1980, directed by Mike Hodges) and Highlander (the original 1986 film, directed by Russell Mulcahy). The songs, "A Kind of Magic, "One Year of Love", "Who Wants to Live Forever", "Hammer to Fall", and the theme "Princes of the Universe" can be heard in the film. It was also used in the Highlander TV series (1992–1998). "A Kind of Magic" can be heard in the beginning bar scene of "Highlander 2".

In the United States, "Bohemian Rhapsody" was re-released as a single in 1992 after appearing in Wayne's World. The single subsequently reached number two on the US Billboard chart (with "The Show Must Go On" as the first track on the single) and helped rekindle the band's popularity in North America.

Several films have featured their songs performed by other artists. A version of "Somebody to Love" was done by Anne Hathaway in the 2004 film Ella Enchanted. In 2006, Brittany Murphy also recorded a cover of the same song for the 2006 movie Happy Feet. In 2001, a version of "The Show Must Go On" was performed by Jim Broadbent and Nicole Kidman in the movie musical Moulin Rouge!. The closing credits of A Knight's Tale released in 2001 has a version of "We Are the Champions" performed by Robbie Williams and Queen; the introduction to the same movie features We Will Rock You played by the medieval audience. In 1992, the film "Gladiator" featured snippets of "We Will Rock You" performed by Warrant whereas their full version was released as a single. In 2004 "Don't Stop Me Now" was featured in the bar fight scene in the cult movie Shaun of the Dead, and "You're My Best Friend" played during the end credits, as well as during the 2006 film "The Break-Up".

In May 2004, The Japanese live-action version of Sailor Moon, called Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. In Act 29: "Minako's Rival, Mio Kuroki, is a Transfer Student?", used "I Was Born To Love You" in a volleyball game scene between the shows hero Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon (Miyuu Sawai) and Mio Kuroki (Alisa Yuriko Durbrow) a Dark Kingdom minion and "Rival" to J-Pop Idol Minako Aino/ Sailor Venus (Ayaka Komatsu).

Keeping in the tradition (since Season Five) of naming each season's episodes after songs from a famous 1970s era rock band (Led Zeppelin for the fifth season, The Who for the sixth and The Rolling Stones for the seventh), the eighth and final season of That '70s Show consisted of episodes named after Queen songs. "Bohemian Rhapsody" served as the season premiere.[127]

On 11 April 2006 Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared on the American singing contest television show American Idol. Each contestant was required to sing a Queen song during that week of the competition. Songs which appeared on the show included "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Fat Bottomed Girls", "The Show Must Go On", "Who Wants to Live Forever", and "Innuendo". Brian May later criticised the show for editing specific scenes,[128] one which made the group's time with contestant Ace Young look negative, despite it being the opposite.

Taylor and May again appeared on the American Idol Season 8 finale in May 2009, performing "We Are the Champions" with finalists Adam Lambert and Kris Allen.

Al Murray's Happy Hour has a Queen theme, as it uses "Don't Stop Me Now" for the introduction and features guest performers along with host Al Murray singing different Queen songs each episode. The remainder of Queen did appear at the end of a series of the show.

"I Was Born to Love You" was used as the theme song of the Japanese drama Pride on Fuji Television in 2004, starring Takuya Kimura and Yūko Takeuchi. The show's soundtrack also contained other songs by Queen, including "We Will Rock You, "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody".

The band made tentative plans to provide material for use in "The Hotel New Hampshire" but this project was abandoned. However, "Keep Passing The Open Windows" (which is an important catch-phrase line in the movie) did survive. The Simpsons has also made storylines in which they use Queen songs such as 'You're My Best friend'.

On 15 November 2009 Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared on the singing contest television show "X Factor".[75]

In the Autumn of 2009, the Fox television show Glee featured the fictional high school's show choir singing "Somebody To Love" as their second act performance in the episode The Rhodes Not Taken. The performance was included on the show's Volume One soundtrack CD, and is available as a single via digital download.

Musical theatre

In 2002, a musical or "rock theatrical" based on the songs of Queen, titled We Will Rock You, opened at the Dominion Theatre on London's West End. The musical was written by British comedian and author Ben Elton in collaboration with Brian May and Roger Taylor, and produced by Robert De Niro. It has since been staged in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane, Australia; Cologne, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; South Africa, Las Vegas United States; Zurich, Switzerland; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Moscow, Russia; Varberg, Sweden; Auckland, New Zealand; Toronto, Canada; Hong Kong and Singapore; Milan, Italy.

The original London production was scheduled to close on Saturday, 7 October 2006 at the Dominion Theatre, but due to public demand, the show has now been extended indefinitely. We Will Rock You has become the longest running musical ever to run at this prime London theatre, overtaking the previous record holder, the Grease musical.[129]

The launch of the musical coincided with Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. As part of the Jubilee celebrations Brian May performed a guitar solo of "God Save the Queen",[130] as featured on Queen's A Night at the Opera, from the roof of Buckingham Palace. The recording of this performance was used as video for the same song on the 30th Anniversary DVD edition of A Night at the Opera.

Sean Bovim created "Queen at the Ballet", a tribute to Freddie Mercury, which uses Queen's music as a soundtrack for the show’s dancers, who interpret the stories behind tracks such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Radio Ga Ga" and "Killer Queen". Brian May has confirmed that they are considering writing a sequel to the musical. The musical is touring around the UK in 2009, playing at Manchester Palace Theatre, Sunderland Empire, Birmingham Hippodrome, Bristol Hippodrome, Edinburgh Playhouse.

Discography

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Further reading

  • Brooks, Greg (1995), Queen Live: A Concert Documentary, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 9780711948143 
  • Dawson, Mike (2008), Freddie & Me, London: Jonathan Cape, ISBN 9780224081931 
  • Dean, Ken; Charlesworth, Chris (1991), Queen: The New Visual Documentary, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 9780711928282 
  • Goodall, Nigel; Lewry, Peter (1998), The Ultimate Queen, London: Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9780684821498 
  • Gunn, Jacky; Jenkins, Jim (1992), Queen: As It Began, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, ISBN 9780330332590 
  • Hodkinson, Mark (2005), Queen: The Early Years, London: Music Sales Limited, ISBN 9780711960121 
  • Hogan, Peter (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Queen, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 9780711935266 
  • Jackson, Laura (2002), Queen: The Definitive Biography, London: Piatkus, ISBN 9780749923174 
  • Michael, Mick (1992), Queen, In Their Own Words, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 9780711930148 
  • Nester, Daniel (2003), God Save My Queen: A Tribute, Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press, ISBN 9781887128278 
  • Nester, Daniel (2004), God Save My Queen II: The Show Must Go On, Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press, ISBN 9781932360516 
  • Purvis, Georg (2006), Queen: Complete Works, Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn, ISBN 9781905287338 

External links


Template:Infobox musical artist Smile were a London-based blues based rock band best known as the predecessor to renowned rock band Queen. The band was formed in 1968 by Brian May, who was to become Queen's guitarist. The group included Tim Staffell as singer and bassist, and, later, drummer Roger Taylor, who also went on to play for Queen. The group disbanded in 1970.

Contents

History

In 1968, guitarist Brian May, a student at London's Imperial College, and bassist Tim Staffell formed a group when May placed an advertisement on the college notice board for a "Ginger Baker type" drummer, and a young medical student named Roger Taylor auditioned and got the job. Smile were signed to Mercury Records in 1969, and had their first experience of a recording studio in Trident Studios that year. Staffell was attending Ealing Art College with Freddie Bulsara (later known as Freddie Mercury), and introduced him to the band. Bulsara soon became a keen fan.

The group's biggest public performance was on February 27 1969 at the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child. Held at the Royal Albert Hall, May, Taylor and Staffell performed as a trio on guitar, drums and bass respectively. Keyboardist Chris Smith had been fired the day before, according to Staffell. (According to Smith, he was only briefly in the band and left of his own accord because he was interested in different styles).[1]

Smile gigged quite a bit on the London scene, according to Time Out's listings. On April 19, they played at the Speakeasy and on May 31, they appeared at the Whisky A Go Go.

In March 1969, the band played at a venue known as PJ's, using claims to have previously been played on radio station BBC Radio 1 to secure an audience. It seems likely that the claims were fictitious, however.[1][2] Shortly after they were given a one-off recording deal by Mercury Records to record three tracks, "Earth" (Staffell), "Step On Me" (May), and "Doin' All Right" (May/Staffell). These were recorded in June 1969 at Trident Studios in Soho. Ultimately this US promotional recording was never published commercially.

However, in September of the same year, Mercury Records commissioned them to record three more songs: "April Lady" (Stanley Lucas), "Blag", a Taylor instrumental, and "Polar Bear", a "gentle song about a polar bear"[2] written and led by May, at De Lane Lea Studios. Again, the record was not released at the time.

When Staffell left Smile in 1970 to join another band, Humpy Bong, Smile effectively disbanded.[3] Bulsara persuaded May and Taylor to continue, changing the band's name from "Smile" to "Queen" in the process.[3] Bulsara soon joined the band as lead vocalist. The band had a number of bass players during this period, namely Mike Grose, Barry Mitchell and Doug Bogie, who did not fit with the band's chemistry. It was not until February 1971 that they settled on John Deacon and began to rehearse for the first album.[4] This definitively created the Queen lineup which lasted until Mercury's death in 1991.

For their debut album, Queen recorded "Doing All Right". According to the book "Queen: The Early Years", Staffell has been well compensated through royalties from the sale of the album, given his co-songwriting credit for the song with Brian May. Queen also recorded the song for their first BBC recording session with John Peel. That session, along with their third session, have been released in the UK as At the Beeb (Band Of Joy Records) in 1989, and in the U.S. as Queen At The BBC (Hollywood Records) in 1995. Also in 1995, Queen issued their Let Me Live singles, one of which features three of the first session BBC recordings, including "Doing Alright".

Smile would reunite for several songs on 22 December 1992. Taylor's band The Cross were headliners and he brought May and Staffell on to play "Earth" and "If I Were a Carpenter".[5] May also performed several other songs that night.

Discography

Two legitimate releases of the six Smile tracks have since been issued:

Gettin' Smile (LP) from Japan, released September 23 1982, on Mercury Records. The sleeve contains notoriously inaccurate lyrics and songwriting credits for the songs. This release was used for all subsequent bootlegs which contain the songs.

Ghost of a Smile (CD) from Holland, released in 1997, on Pseudonym Records. The CD booklet is comprehensive and features new liner notes by Tim Staffell. All the tracks were newly remastered. The album also features two versions of the Eddie Howell/Freddie Mercury collaboration "The Man From Manhattan" (no relation to Smile, except that Brian May plays guitar on it).

There is a bootleg album of their early tracks circa the Smile era titled Pre-Ordained. Most of them also appeared on the 1995 Italian bootleg Queen in Nuce.

Songs

The following songs have been confirmed by the members of the band as being part of their repertoire, either live or in their short-lived studio time.

  • "Earth" (Staffell)
  • "Step On Me" (Staffell/May) originally from May and Staffell's band 1984.
  • "Doin' Alright" (Staffell/May)
  • "Blag" (Taylor)
  • "Polar Bear" (May)
  • "Silver Salmon" (Staffell)
  • "See What A Fool I've Been" (May, based on the song "That's How I Feel" by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee)
  • "If I Were a Carpenter" (Tim Hardin) a cover regularly featuring in their live set.
  • "April Lady" (Lucas) a song presented to the band by Mercury Records during their second studio session.

Smile songs recorded by other artists

  • "Step On Me": Two versions were recorded by the pre-Smile band, 1984, as part of a demo tape made at ITV Studios, London, England, March 31 1967.
  • "Earth": Tim joined the band Morgan and contributed the song to their first album Nova Solis in 1972.
  • "Doing All Right": recorded by Queen for their debut album Queen (1973). This version also appears on the US-only 7" single for their song "Liar" on Elektra Records (1974).
  • "Polar Bear": recorded as a demo, yet unreleased, by Queen during their debut album sessions.
  • "Silver Salmon": recorded as a demo, yet unreleased, by Queen during their debut album sessions.
  • "Doin' Alright": again recorded by Queen (with a slight name change to the song) for their first BBC session on February 5 1973. This version appears on Queen at the Beeb (1989) in the UK, and Queen At The BBC (1995) in the US, as well as on the CDQUEEN24 single "Let Me Live" as a B-side.
  • "See What A Fool I've Been": recorded in August of 1973, during Queen's second album sessions (Queen II). It did not appear on the album, but was released as the B-side to the album's single "The Seven Seas of Rhye" (1974). This version later appeared on the Queen boxed set The Complete Works bonus LP Complete Vision. Hollywood Records re-issued Queen II in the US in 1991, with this song as a bonus track. The UK and Japanese CD3 singles (1987 and 1990 respectively) include the song again as the B-side for "The Seven Seas of Rhye".
  • "See What A Fool I've Been": again recorded by Queen, now as part of their fourth BBC session with John Peel.
  • "Blag": Though never recorded again as such, the featured solo evolved (and continues to evolve) through Brian May's career both with Queen and as a solo artist. Recorded versions of the solo include: "Son And Daughter" (third Queen BBC session, 1974, released on the aforementioned BBC album [see above]), "Brighton Rock" (from Queen's third album Sheer Heart Attack in 1974), "Brighton Rock" (from Queen's live album Live Killers in 1979), as "Guitar Solo" (from Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl recorded 1982), "Brighton Rock Solo" (recorded in 1986, on Live At Wembley '86, released 1992), as "Guitar Extravagance" (from The Brian May Band live album Live at the Brixton Academy in 1993), and recently again as "Guitar Solo" (on the Queen + Paul Rodgers live album Return of the Champions in 2005).
  • "Polar Bear": recorded by Valensia for his album Queen Tribute in 2003.
  • "Earth": recorded by Tim Staffell for his solo album aMIGO. This version features Brian May on guitar and vocals, and Morgan Fisher (formerly of Morgan) on keyboards. Recorded in 2003.
  • "Doin' Alright": recorded by Tim Staffell for his solo album aMIGO. This version features Brian May on guitar and vocals.
  • "April Lady": recorded by Southern Comfort (the band remaining after Iain Matthews left Matthews Southern Comfort) on their 'Frog City' album (Harvest SHSP 4012)of 1971 (not on CD as far as I'm aware). On the record label this song is credited to Carl Barnwell but this maybe a mistake. Fritz Freyer, who produced the Smile version, had connections with Matthews Southern Comfort, so perhaps that is how they came by it?

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Smit's Smile". Originally from Queenfans.com. (Currently offline, retrieved through web archive on 2007-11-08.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pre-Queen - Smile!
  3. 3.0 3.1 Queen Biography 1970, Queen Zone, http://queenzone.com/queenzone/bio_view.aspx?q=2 
  4. Queen Biography 1971, Queen Zone, http://queenzone.com/queenzone/bio_view.aspx?q=3 
  5. Tim Staffell Biography



Simple English

Smile was a rock band which has preceded the famous rock band Queen. The members were Brian May (guitar), Roger Taylor (drums) and Tim Staffell (bass and vocals). When Tim Staffell left the band, Freddie Mercury replaced him and it became Queen.


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