Queen (band)

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Performers and composers

Queen, 1974. Clockwise from top: May, Taylor, Mercury, Deacon.
Queen, 1974. Clockwise from top: May, Taylor, Mercury, Deacon.
Background information
Origin England London, England
Genre(s) Rock
Arena rock
Glam rock
Hard rock
Heavy metal
Progressive rock
Pop rock
Years active 1970 – present
Label(s) Parlophone and Hollywood Records
Website queenonline.com
John Deacon (retired)
Brian May
Freddie Mercury (deceased)
Roger Taylor

Queen are an English rock band formed by Brian May, Freddie Mercury, and Roger Taylor in London, England in 1970 from the remains of Smile, with John Deacon completing the lineup the following year. Britain's most successful band of the past three decades, the band became popular during the mid-to-late 1970s and still retain an extremely large international fan base. Although they were largely dismissed by the majority of music critics, especially those in the United States, Queen have more recently been recognized as having made significant contributions to such genres as arena rock, glam rock, hard rock, heavy metal, pop rock, and progressive rock, amongst others.

In the Music Of The Millennium poll conducted by Channel 4 in 1999, Queen were voted the second greatest band in music history. In 2001, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio and in 2003 Queen became the first and remain the only band to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2004, the band was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame and in 2006 Queen was the first inductee into the VH1 Rock Honours. Queen have also been inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame (at Guitar Centre on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard) and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Moreover the band has been cited as a major influence by many other artists and performers.

Queen have released a total of eighteen #1 albums, seventeen #1 singles, and eight #1 DVDs worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists.


  • John Deacon (born 1951) bass: Deacon was the bass player of the group. He auditioned for the role after the band went through three other unsuitable bass players and is the only member to never sing lead vocals on a studio album. In later years, he became more heavily involved in the financial and managerial side of Queen. In the late 1990s, Deacon retired as a musician and has chosen not to participate in the current Queen + Paul Rodgers tour. He composed a number of Queen's most famous songs e.g. " You're My Best Friend", " Another One Bites The Dust", and " I Want To Break Free".
  • Brian May CBE (born 1947) guitar and vocals: May is the lead guitarist of the group. As a teenager, he and his father built the so-called Red Special which is the electric guitar he continues to use to this day. He occasionally sang lead vocals on some of the quieter tracks that he had written e.g. " '39", "Sleeping On The Sidewalk", and "Sail Away Sweet Sister" although none were released as singles. Also he wrote many of Queen's widely recognisable songs e.g. " Tie Your Mother Down", " We Will Rock You", " Fat Bottomed Girls", and " Hammer to Fall".
  • Freddie Mercury (1946–1991) vocals and piano: Mercury is perhaps best known as the lead vocalist and front-man of the group. However these roles effectively placed a shadow over his skills as an accomplished pianist. He had a very distinctive voice with a tenor vocal range and would sometimes play the rhythm guitar. He wrote the majority of Queen's well-known songs including " Seven Seas of Rhye", " Killer Queen", "Bohemian Rhapsody", " Somebody to Love", " We Are the Champions", " Bicycle Race", " Don't Stop Me Now", and " Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
  • Roger Taylor (born 1949) percussion and vocals: Taylor is the drummer of the group. In addition to drums and other percussion instruments, he would sometimes play lead guitar, rhythm guitar, or bass guitar on some of his own songs. He occasionally sang lead vocals on some of the heavier tracks that he had written e.g. "I'm In Love With My Car", "Fight From The Inside", and "Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll" although none were released as singles. His more successful compositions would come in the 1980s, with hits such as " Radio Ga Ga" and " A Kind of Magic."


Brian May and Roger Taylor were playing in a semi-professional band called Smile with Tim Staffell. Freddie Mercury (then Freddie Bulsara) was Staffell's roommate at Ealing Arts College and followed Smile's music closely. As the singer in other bands, such as Ibex in 1969 and Sour Milk Sea in 1970, Mercury was very eager to share his ideas so Smile could develop. Staffell would leave the band to join another band, Humpy Bong, and Smile split up. Mercury persuaded May and Taylor to continue, however, changing the band's name from "Smile" to "Queen" in the process. John Deacon would join the lineup in February 1971.

Their first chart entry was the 1974 single "Seven Seas of Rhye." More notable was "Killer Queen" from their third album Sheer Heart Attack, which climbed to #2 on the charts. Their greatest success came in 1975 with "Bohemian Rhapsody", a single from A Night at the Opera. In United Kingdom, it spent nine weeks at #1, and was also a worldwide hit. For the next sixteen years, Queen would remain active, producing numerous other hits such as "We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions", "Another One Bites the Dust", and "Radio Ga Ga." In the 1980s, their popularity waned in North America, though they continued to be a successful act in other parts of the world.

In November 1991, Freddie Mercury died of complications from AIDS. The band would experience a resurgence in popularity the next year in North America after "Bohemian Rhapsody" appeared prominately in the hit comedy Wayne's World. After the release of their 1995 album Made in Heaven - composed of Mercury's leftover recordings from before his death - Queen became relatively inactive. John Deacon would retire from the music business in the late 1990s, and it wouldn't be until 2004 that Queen + Paul Rodgers - a collaboration between May, Taylor, and Free/ Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers - began.

Live performances

Queen's live performances were consistently at the forefront of rock shows from bands of their generation. Over their career, the band amassed an impressively diverse catalogue of songs and made use of massive sound systems, huge lighting rigs, an arsenal of pyrotechnics, and many extravagant costumes to help enrich their shows into entertaining, theatrical events. As both lead vocalist and frontman, Freddie Mercury was able to immerse himself in the audience's adulation and thrived off their excitement - an ability for which many artists, such as Bob Geldof, David Bowie, George Michael, Kurt Cobain (in his suicide note), and Robbie Williams to name just a few, have expressed great admiration. The call-and-response singalongs and synchronised hand-clapping between the band and the audience were to become legendary. Queen were also amongst a handful of bands that provided the initial impetus for stadiums and large arenas becoming regarded as serious rock concert venues. Their reputation for putting on an impressive live performance led to a number of concerts being released on both album and video and, later, on CD and DVD while a significant number of bootleg copies of Queen concerts have appeared.

In the 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 Brian May and Roger Taylor, numerous restoration projects have been underway involving Queen's lengthy audio and video catalogue. DVD releases of their famous 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 '70s and '80s) have seen the band's music remixed into 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound. So far, two of Queen's most acclaimed albums, A Night At The Opera and The Game, have been fully remixed into high-resolution multichannel surround on DVD-Audio. Known for their densely layered arrangements and backing, this medium seems tailor-made for Queen's music. Brian May has said he would like to see the entire Queen catalogue reproduced in this format, as it is closer to what the band envisaged for their work years ago. A new 5.1 mix of A Night At The Opera, including the first surround versions of The Prophet's Song and God Save The Queen, was created in 2005 for the 30th anniversary of the album's original release (CD+DVD set).

In 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 theme song, "Princes of the Universe", was also used in the Highlander TV series (1992 - 1998).

A cover of "Somebody to Love" by Anne Hathaway was recorded for the 2004 film Ella Enchanted. In 2001, a version of "The Show Must Go On" was performed by Jim Broadbent and Nicole Kidman in the movie musical Moulin Rouge!. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was re-released after appearing in Wayne's World, and subsequently made number 2 on the US billboard chart.

Keeping in the tradition (since Season 5) of naming each season's episodes after songs from a famous '70s 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.

Several other films have prominently featured their songs, including Iron Eagle, National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon, Super Mario Brothers, The Break-up, Wayne's World, Small Soldiers, Encino Man, Stepmom, High Fidelity, Super Size Me, A Knight's Tale, The Girl Next Door, Revenge of the Nerds, The Mighty Ducks, How High and Shaun of the Dead.

In musical theatre

In 2002, a musical or "rock theatrical" based on the songs of Queen, entitled 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 the help of Robert de Niro. It has since been staged in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane, Australia; Cologne, Germany; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;South Africa; and Las Vegas, Nevada. The original London production was scheduled to close on Saturday 7th October 2006 at the Dominion Theatre. Due to public demand, however, 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.

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, 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, interpret the stories behind tracks such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Radio Ga Ga" and "Killer Queen".

Historical success

As of 2005, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, Queen albums have spent a total of 1,422 weeks or 27 years on the UK album charts; more time than any other musical act including The Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Current Rankings:

  1. Queen (1,422 weeks/27 years)
  2. The Beatles (1,293 weeks/24.8 years)
  3. Elvis Presley (1,280 weeks/24.6 years)
  4. U2 (1,150 weeks/22 years)
  5. Dire Straits (1,136 weeks/21.8 years)
  6. Simon and Garfunkel (1,114 weeks/21.4 years)
  7. Madonna (1,032 weeks/19.8 years)
  8. David Bowie (1,005 weeks/19.3 years)
  9. Elton John (989 weeks/19 years)
  10. Michael Jackson (966 weeks/18.6 years)

Also in 2005, with the release of its 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; this does not make allowances for the fact that the charts were a smaller list in the 1960s.

Current rankings:

  1. Elvis Presley (2,074 weeks/39.9 years)
  2. Cliff Richard (1,982 weeks/38 years)
  3. Queen (1,755 weeks/33.7 years)
  4. The Beatles (1,749 weeks/33.6 years)
  5. Madonna (1,660 weeks/31.9 years)
  6. Elton John (1,626 weeks/31.2 years)

In 2006 Queen's Greatest Hits album was found to be the United Kingdom's all-time best selling album, with sales upwards of 5,407,587 copies. Over 604,295 more copies then its nearest competitor The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Also their Greatest Hits II album came in seventh with sales upwards of 3,631,321 copies.

Current rankings:

  1. Queen, Greatest Hits (5,407,587)
  2. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (4,803,292)
  3. Oasis, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (4,304,504)
  4. Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms (3,946,931)
  5. ABBA, ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits (3,932,316)
  6. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (3,759,958)
  7. Queen, Greatest Hits II (3,631,321)
  8. Michael Jackson, Thriller (3,570,250)
  9. Michael Jackson, Bad (3,549,950)
  10. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection (3,364,785)

The band's total sales figures estimates vary greatly. In 2001 it was stated its sales topped 100 million records worldwide; however, according to an official press release two years later, Queen have "accounted for record sales in excess of 150 million across the world". The following year, the figure of "over 190 million albums" was claimed at its UK Music Hall of Fame induction. Several sites also claim a worldwide figure of over 300 million records. According to the RIAA Queen's total U.S. album sales are reported to be 35.5 million as 2004

Influence on other musicians

Queen are remembered for their original blend of theatrics, showmanship, consummate musicianship, kitsch, and extravagance that were not usually found, or valued, by other recognised acts of their generation. However the band received little praise and acclaim in their actual lifetime. During the early phase of their career, it was typical for a critically-acknowledged rock band to have blues, psychedelic, working-class roots with heavy emphasis on a male audience base. These factors, which were instilled in rock music in the late 1960's and early 1970's, were largely absent from Queen so that critical recognition was truly scarce. From the outset, the band (bearing in mind that each member had a university qualification and came from middle-upper class up-bringings) had no aspirations to be a 'voice' of the oppressed or down-trodden sectors of society. Moreover the band elected not to openly express their political and/or humanitarian views in the same manner as other well-known artists such as Bob Geldof, Bono, Sting, Bob Dylan, etc.

Also, much of the material on the first two Queen albums (released in 1973 and 1974) had been composed, and performed live, a number of years earlier (e.g. 1970 and 1971). Unfortunately the material, when it was released officially, was regarded as dated and contrived by many critics that had not already been exposed to Queen's music. Similarly the band's two main audiences at the time, namely the glam-rockers and hard-rockers, were not particularly receptive to the mish-mash of the two contrasting styles. Their expansive, multi-layered sound that was integrated with a somewhat camp and flamboyant delivery (both on-stage and in-studio) clashed with a number of 'established' rock conventions. To add even more fuel to the fire, it was generally perceived that Queen started out with excessive financial backing and managerial favouritism that had not been previously earned.

Today numerous critics and fellow musicians have since acknowledged the band as making a significant contribution to the evolution of rock music. Moreover, bands and acts that were once considered 'superior' to Queen by yesterday's fraternity of critics are seen as their 'equals' by today's critics. Nowadays Queen are extremely well-respected for both the musical eclecticism of their studio output and their impressive, innovative live shows. The band's successful use of promotional videos (many of which the band gave substantial financial and artistic contributions and inspired Mercury to make the off-the-cuff statement: "We're the Cecil B. DeMille of rock and roll, always aiming to be bigger and better") would help pave the way for the video to become an essential medium in popular music. Queen were also amongst a handful of bands that provided the initial impetus for stadiums and large arenas becoming regarded as serious rock concert venues. What is more, both Mercury and May (and Taylor and Deacon to a lesser degree) are regarded as influential members in their respective musical disciplines.

Queen composed music that drew inspiration from many different genres while still adopting a tongue-in-cheek attitude. For example, glam rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, progressive rock, punk rock, heavy metal, pop, rhythm 'n blues, funk and disco, country, gospel and soul, and even music-hall and ragtime. Much like its music, the collection of bands and artists that have claimed to be influenced by Queen, or a member of Queen, is quite diverse. Artists that cite them as an influence include: 10cc, AFI, Anthrax, Bad News, Ben Folds Five, Billy Squier, Blind Guardian, Boy George, The Darkness, Def Leppard, Dr. Dre, Dream Theatre, Electric Six, Extreme, The Flaming Lips, Foo Fighters, Franz Ferdinand, Gary Numan, George Michael, Green Day, Guns N' Roses, Iron Maiden, Jane's Addiction, Jeff Buckley, Jellyfish, Joan Osborne, Katie Melua, Keane, Marilyn Manson, Meat Loaf, Megadeth, The Melvins, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Nirvana, OK Go, Panic! At The Disco, Pharrell Williams, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Robbie Williams, Saga, Scissor Sisters, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths, Sonata Arctica, Sparks, Steve Vai, TNT, Tenacious D, Tori Amos, Trent Reznor, Van Halen, Ween, The White Stripes, among others.

Michael Jackson was a friend of Mercury in the early 1980s and cited the Hot Space album as a driving influence behind the making of his 1982 album Thriller on which Mercury was originally scheduled to appear. Queen have also been cited as a major influence on the "neo-classical metal" genre by Swedish-American guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. Well-known opera diva Montserrat Caballè has stated on a number of occasions how Mercury, and Queen to a lesser extent, was instrumental in introducing many opera listeners to rock music and vice versa.


Queen's logo, also known as the Queen Crest, was designed by Mercury (who had a diploma in Illustration and Graphic Design from Ealing Art College in London) before the release of their first album. An instantly recognizeable symbol to many fans and non-fans alike, 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 stylized letter Q, the crab is resting atop the Q with flames rising directly above it, and the fairies are sheltering below each lion respectively. There is also a crown inside the Q and the whole logo is over-shadowed by an enormous phoenix. Mercury has stated that the logo is a sign of the times (i.e. the 70's) and it was usually displayed on the front of Taylor's bass drum at early Queen concerts.

The Official International Queen Fan Club

The Official International Queen Fan Club, based in or near London, was set up in 1973 by Pat and Sue Johnstone shortly after the release of the band's first album. At one stage, the world-wide membership of the club was an impressive 20,000 people. Magazines are put out quarterly, contain up-to-the-minute information on the band, offer exclusive band merchandise, and feature a personalised letter to the club members by one band member. In the late eighties, the club started to put on annual conventions at different venues in England and these get-togethers are still continuing to this day.

According to Guinness World Records, the club is the "Longest-Running Rock Group Fan Club" in the world.


Studio albums

  • 1973 - Queen
  • 1974 - Queen II
  • 1974 - Sheer Heart Attack
  • 1975 - A Night at the Opera
  • 1976 - A Day at the Races
  • 1977 - News of the World
  • 1978 - Jazz
  • 1980 - The Game
  • 1980 - Flash Gordon
  • 1982 - Hot Space
  • 1984 - The Works
  • 1986 - A Kind of Magic
  • 1989 - The Miracle
  • 1991 - Innuendo
  • 1995 - Made in Heaven

Number one singles

Year Single Countries
1975 Bohemian Rhapsody Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, UK (2x platinum)
1976 Somebody to Love Netherlands
1977 We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You France, New Zealand
1979 Love of My Life (live) Argentina (52+ wks), Brazil
1979 Crazy Little Thing Called Love Australia, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, US (gold)
1980 Another One Bites the Dust Argentina, Canada, Guatemala, Spain, US (3x platinum)
1980 Flash Austria
1981 Under Pressure (with David Bowie) Argentina, Netherlands, UK (silver)
1982 Las Palabras de Amor Poland
1984 Radio Ga Ga Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal (silver), Sweden, Poland
1984 I Want to Break Free Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa
1991 Innuendo Italy, Portugal, South Africa, UK (gold)
1991 I'm Going Slightly Mad Hong Kong
1991 Bohemian Rhapsody / These Are the Days of Our Lives Ireland, Portugal, UK (platinum), Poland
1993 Five Live (EP with George Michael and Lisa Stansfield) Ireland, Spain, UK
1995 Heaven for Everyone Argentina, Poland, Italy, Germany, Brazil
1995 You Don't Fool Me Italy, Poland
2000 We Will Rock You (with 5ive) UK, Ireland
Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_%28band%29"