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Queen: Rock Royalty


By Geoffrey Huchel

There will never be a band quite like Queen. Their operatic sounds, multilayered vocals and remarkable guitar lines made their music most recognizable and defining. They’ve been celebrated for decades, being described as revolutionary, amazingly unique and original and timeless. Their music remains just as popular today as it was back in the 1970s and 80s.

Queen definitely defined my childhood. I remember being introduced to their music as a young kid in the 1980s. I became mesmerized by their larger than life personas, their theatricality and their show-stopping tunes, such as SOMEBODY TO LOVE ( my personal favorite), ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST, DON’T STOP ME NOW, and so many others. Queen has written songs specifically for live audiences to feel as though they were part of the band, such as WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, and RADIO GA GA, as they would have crowds stomping and clapping in unison.

The British rock band formed in 1970. The band consisted of Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (lead guitar, vocals, Roger Taylor (drums, vocals) and John deacon (bass guitar). The band’s early works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock, and heavy metal, but gradually ventured into more radio friendly works, incorporating styles such as arena rock and pop in their music. In addition, Queen wrote songs that were inspired by varied musical styles that were not typically associated with rock groups, such as opera, folk, gospel and disco. Queen drew artistic influence from other British rock bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd and David Bowie.

Before Queen formed, 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 and suggested the name Queen. It was at this time when he adopted his familiar stage name. Deacon was recruited to the band before their debut album in 1973. Queen first hit the UK charts with their second album, QUEEN II in 1974, but it was the release of SHEER HEART ATTACK and A NIGHT AT THE OPERA that brought them international success. The latter featured BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, which stayed at number one in the UK for nine weeks. The band’s 1977 album NEWS OF THE WORLD contained WE WILL ROCK YOU and WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, which have become anthems.

By the 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world. ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST became their best-selling single, while their 1981 compilation album GREATEST HITS was the best-selling album in the UK. The album went eight times platinum in the US. The band’s performance at Live-Aid in 1985 has been ranked among the greatest in rock history.

Several films and television shows have featured Queen’s songs. The soundtrack for one of my favorite movies growing up, FLASH GORDON (1980), was by Queen. In 1992, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY was re-released as a single after appearing the comedy film WAYNE’S WORLD.

The biopic BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY was released in November 2018. The film focused on the band’s formative years and the period leading up to the celebrated performance at the 1985 Live-Aid concert. The film starred Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. It received mixed reviews by critics, but I personally enjoyed the film. I left the theatre completely floored by Malek’s portrayal of Mercury. I also would like to mention the superb performances of Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joe Mazzello The film is a marvelous work of art and a touching tribute to Freddie Mercury’s legacy and to Queen’s contribution to music.

Queen was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Queen is the only band in which every member has composed more than one chart-topping single, and all four members were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of fame in 2003. In 2009 WE WILL ROCK YOU and WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2018, they were presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

QUEEN (1973)
QUEEN II (1974)
JAZZ (1978)
THE GAME (1980)
HOT SPACE (1982)
THE WORKS 91984)

Essential Queen:

“Killer Queen” (1974)
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
“Somebody To Love” (1976)
“We Will Rock You” (1977)
“Don’t Stop Me Now” (1978)
“Fat Bottomed Girls” (1978)
“I Want to Break Free” (1984)

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