Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is Queen's official video of Bohemian Rapsody.

Here is Queen's official video of I Need to Break Free.

The protest of the 1960s quickly turned into 1970s excess as a new attitude surfaced to redefine and reclaim rock music. With the Vietnam War coming to a close in the early 1970s, Baby Boomers enjoyed a more prosperous economy, hippies became yuppies, and thoughts of idealism turned to material possessions. Young people with disposable incomes were now looking for the type of excitement that only sex, drugs, and over the top Rock excess could provide.

These desires were satisfied by a new wave of mostly British musicians who delivered extravagant live performances and created a new style of rock that became the model for nearly every heavy metal band to follow. Many of these early musicians such as Elton John, David Bowie and The New York Dolls were categorized as Glam rock and relied on flashy gender bending costumes, heavy make up and highly theatrical stage antics. But in essence, Glam rock was more of a look than a specific musical style.

The British band Queen adopted the look of glam and took it one step further with their exaggerated style of progressive rock and heavy metal. Drawing much of their musical influence from prototypical metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Queen emerged as one of the most unique and influential hard rock bands of the 1970s. Their sound was huge, with layered guitars and overdubbed vocals, which fused elements of classical arrangements, opera, heavy metal, and hard rock. Queen was also one of the earlier bands to produce music videos as musical productions on their own, whereas most video until this time usually documented concerts.

These music videos were lavish with post production special effects, not the least of which was their best-known "Bohemian Rhapsody", and "We are the Champions", which has since become a standard at sporting events, Queen embodied the era of pure rock and roll excess. Their campy theatrical approach to live performance paved the way for bands like Kiss and nearly every high-haired metal band of the 1980s, while their music creatively impacted bands like Metallica and the Smashing Pumpkins.

Queen originated in London, England in 1971 while all four members were still in college. Guitarist Brian May (1947) and drummer Roger Taylor (1949) had played together in a mildly successful band called Smile, while the notoriously flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) was with a band named Wreckage. After the two bands split up, the three members formed Queen adding John Deacon (1951) as their bass player. After two years of rehearsing and just a hand full of gigs the quartet released their first purely metal album Queen and immediately began touring.

By 1972, they had recorded Queen II which established their success in Britain, however it wasn't until 1975's breakthrough album, A Night at the Opera that American audiences began to take notice. Queen had spent a great deal of time and money to produce their fourth album that yielded their signature hit "Bohemian Rhapsody." In addition to being the most expensive album to have been recorded at the time, the video for the song was considered to be one of the earliest of its kind and paved the way for the new video era. The single was an instant classic and became the first to remain at number one for nine weeks on the British charts.

Queen was enjoying mass success the world over and quickly settled into their superstar status. This comfort with celebrity may have contributed to their lack of critical acceptance. Although their singles topped the charts nearly as quickly as they were released and their albums went platinum and gold, the press was reluctant to praise their musical innovations. However, in spite of the harsh criticism that followed them throughout their career, they have endured as one of the most popular 1970's bands in the world.

In the 1980s, Queen released The Game which had several diverse hits including "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". But their popularity was beginning to subside. After releasing the soundtrack to the kitschy sci-fi flop Flash Gordon and the 1981 hit single "Under Pressure" performed with David Bowie, the band began to seek audiences in foreign markets. It wasn't until their performance at the historical Live Aid concert in 1985 that interest in the band was rekindled. Queen went on to record an additional three albums following the Live Aid show, all of which sold well in Britain, although Queen never regained favor in the United States.

In 1991, the band remained fairly inactive leading to rumors concerning Freddie Mercury's health. On November 22, 1991, just two days after he released a statement to the press that he had contracted the AIDS virus, Freddie Mercury died. In the spring of 1992, a Memorial concert was held at London's Wembley Stadium and raised millions of dollars for AIDS awareness.

Page author: A.E.