The band played several small concerts for close friends, before they were offered the chance to test a new recording studio, called 'De Lane Lea'. In return for testing the studio and equipment, they could make their own demo tapes. In 1972 they signed a recording contract with Trident, and were given 'down time' at the studio, to record an album. In July 1973, their debut album 'Queen', was released, after which they were offered a big break by playing support to Mott The Hoople, on a tour which began in November. The second album 'Queen II', was released in March 1974, delayed due to a minor printing error. The band then embarked on a first headlining tour of Britain, which also started in March, before an extensive American tour, again as support to Mott The Hoople, beginning in April. In May, Brian collapsed with Hepatitis, so the group were forced to cancel the remaining tour dates.
Work on the third album began without Brian, and when well enough to return to the studio, recorded his guitar and vocal parts. Eventually the album, called 'Sheer Heart Attack', was released in November 1974 and gave Queen their first #2 album and single, 'Killer Queen'.
In January 1975, Queen embarked on their first headlining tour of the USA, with phenomenal demand for tickets. However, some shows on the tour were cancelled as Freddie had developed throat problems. Queen hired Jim Beach as a lawyer to sever their links with Trident. They flew of to Japan in April, and arrived to a riotous reception, as 'Sheer Heart Attack' as #1. album at the time.
Work on the new album began in June, and links with Trident were severed in August. In September, Queen enlisted John Reid as their new manager. They revealed their new single 'Bohemian Rhapsody', but at 5 mins 55 seconds everyone told them it was too long. However, Freddie gave a copy to his close friend, DJ Kenny Everett, who managed to play it 14 times in 2 days. This, and the first true promotional video, helped the single to reach no. 1, where it remained for 9 weeks.
'A Night At The Opera' was Queen's fourth album, and at the time the most expensive ever recorded. Released in November 1975, it too went straight to no. 1, and gave Queen their first platinum disc. January saw another US tour begin, which was completed in March, before flying off to Japan then Australia for further tours. In 1976, all four Queen albums were in the UK top twenty - the first time this had ever happened. Work on the next album began, before a short UK tour. During this tour, Queen played a huge free concert in Hyde Park to thank their fans, attended by upto 200 thousand people.
'A Day At The Races' was released in December 1976 and gave Queen their second no. 1 album, and the #2 single 'Somebody To Love'. In January 1977 they began an extensive tour of the USA and Canada, whilst May 1977 saw Queen begin another tour of Europe, featuring a new 'Crown' lighting rig costing £50,000. 'News Of The World' was released in October 1977, containing the classics 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions', which again reached #2 in the singles chart.
November 11th saw Queen embark on another American tour, before returning to the UK in time for Christmas. February the next year saw them part with their manager, John Reid. A short European tour began in April 1978, before work on the next album began. The first single from that album, 'Bicycle Race', was promoted with a bicycle race featuring 50 naked girls. Public outcry lead to the single's artwork being changed in many countries worldwide. Further tours of the USA and Canada began in October, whilst the album was released in Jazz, featuring a poster of the legendary race. The album's launch party was held in New Orleans, and has since gone down in history.
The tour of North America finished in late December, before they flew to Europe to begin the European tour which began in January 1979. During this tour they recorded many concerts and set about working on their first live album, which they produced at Mountain Studios in Montreux, which they liked so much they eventually bought it. They flew out to Japan in April 1979 for another tour, and in June approached the All England Lawn Tennis Club to play a concert on Wimbledon's centre court, but permission was refused. 'Live Killers', the first live album, was released in June, reaching no. 3 in the charts. Queen also began work on their next album in June.
October 1979 saw the release of 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', and a new image for Queen, with short hair and clad in leather. The single became Queen's fourth UK no. 2 hit, and their first US no. 1. November and December saw Queen embark on the 'Crazy Tour', where they visited many smaller venues within London. On Boxing Day, they appeared as part of the 'Concert For Kampuchea', to raise funds, organised by Paul McCartney.
In February 1981, Queen flew to Rio De Janiero to begin their first tour of South America, becoming the first band to do so, playing 5 sold out stadiums in just eight days. They then moved on to the Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo, performing in front of 131,000 people, the largest paying audience for a single band. During the tour, all of Queen's albums were in the Argentinian top 10 - another first for any band. Whilst in Sao Paulo, Queen celebrated that their single 'Love Of My Life' had been in the Brazilian singles chart for an incredible 12 months. They returned to South America in September for the second leg of the tour.
In October, Queen released 'Greatest Hits', which went straight to no. 1 and became one of the best selling albums of all time. 'Greatest Flix', the world's first full-length release of promotional videos by any band, also became a best seller. 'Greatest Pix' was also released, a collection of photos of Queen from the previous decade. October also saw the release of 'Under Pressure', a collaborative single with David Bowie, which gave Queen their second no. 1.
May 1982 saw the release of 'Hot Space', an album containing disco tracks that lost the band some fans, though it still got to no. 4 in the charts. The album was released during an extensive tour of Europe, which included a concert at the huge Milton Keynes Bowl, regarded by Brian as one of Queen's best ever concert. At the end of December, Queen were listed in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's highest paid executives.
1983 was a year off for Queen. Roger, Brian and Freddie all worked on solo material, only coming together as Queen to work on their new album in August. The result was 'The Works', released in February 1984, which gave them 4 hit singles including the hugely successful 'Radio Ga Ga' and 'I Want To Break Free'. A European tour followed in August, and the band's first live video was issued on September 1984. September also saw nine albums in the UK top 200, before Queen performed controversial concerts in South Africa in October.
January 1985 saw 'Rock In Rio', the biggest rock festival held anywhere in the world, and Queen were the headlining act. The concert was filmed and Queen became the only band to obtain rights to release their performance - 'Live in Rio' was later released as their second live video in May. In April, they flew to New Zealand to begin a small tour of Australasia, before flying to Japan for a small tour in May. July 1985 saw 'Live Aid', where many top bands gathered to raise money for the people of Ethiopia. Queen were unanimously voted as the best act of the show, ahead of artists like David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Status Quo, The Who and many more. The day inspired Queen to work together again, and the result was 'One Vision', which reached no. 7 in November.
Queen were approached by Russel Mulcahy to produce the soundtrack for his first film, 'Highlander'. The resulting album, 'A Kind Of Magic', was released on 2nd June, and went straight to no. 1. The first single from the album, which shared the name, reached no. 3 in the chart. Later in June, Queen began an extensive tour of Europe, entitled 'The Magic Tour', including two sell out shows at Wembley Stadium. The second show was later broadcast on TV, and became the first (and last) simulcast between a terrestrial TV channel and the Independent Radio Network in Britain. In July Queen made history by playing in Budapest, Hungary, the first time a major rock bands had played behind the 'Iron Curtain'. The concert was filmed using every 35mm camera in the country. August saw the final date on The Magic Tour, and what was to become Queen's final concert, at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire. The concert was attended by over 120, 000 people, and caused one of the biggest traffic jams in history. By the end of the tour, over 1 million people saw Queen, with over 400,000 people in the UK alone.
In November, EMI reissued the entire Queen album catalogue on Compact Disc - the first time a complete artist's collection had been released simultaneously. In December, the band's second live album, 'Live Magic', was released and reached no. 3. At the end of 1986, Queen had sold over 1.7 million albums.
1987 was a quiet year for Queen, with no concerts nor work on albums. Queen instead concentrated on solo projects, with 2 hit singles for Freddie and Roger forming another group, 'The Cross'. In November 1987 a highly successful set of documentaries on the band, 'The Magic Years', was released, featuring interviews with the band and behind the scenes footage. 1988 was another quiet year for Queen, with work continuing on the next album and various solo projects.
'The Miracle', Queen's 13th studio album, was released in May 1989 and went straight to no. 1, as it did in most European countries. The band gathered to record a rare interview with Mike Reid for Radio One. At the end of the year, Queen were voted 'The Best Band Of The Eighties', and appeared on television to collect the award.
Rock Bands -Freddie Mercury
Queen were awarded an 'Outstanding Contribution To British Music' in February 1990 by the British Phonographic Industry. Work on the next album continued throughout the year, and in November Queen signed a new deal with 'Hollywood Records' in North America. In January 1991, the band's first single from the next album, 'Innuendo', was released and went straight to no. 1, despite its six and a half minute running time. The album of the same name also went straight to no. 1, when released in February. On 30th May, Queen went into the studios (without Brian), to record what was to be Freddie's last ever video, 'These Are The Days Of Our Lives'. In October 1991, Queen repeated their 1981 success by releasing 'Greatest Hits II', 'Greatest Flix II' and 'Greatest Pix II'. All three went straight to no. 1 in their charts.
On November 23rd, 1991, Freddie announced in a press statement that he had the AIDS virus, but only the next day, it was announced that he had died. It was Freddie's last wish that 'Bohemian Rhapsody' should be released after his death to raise money to fight AIDS. The resulting single, coupled with 'These Are The Days Of Our Lives', reached no. 1 again and spent a further 5 weeks at no. 1, raising over £1 million. Queen closed the year with 10 albums in the top 100.
In February 1992, on collecting for 'Outstanding Contribution To British Music' and 'Best Single Of 1991' awards at the Brit Awards, Roger announced plans for a huge concert to pay tribute to Freddie. All 72,000 tickets were sold in six hours, with no announcement of who would play apart from Queen. On April 20th 1992, many top stars, including David Bowie, Elton John, Roger Daltrey and George Michael, played alongside Queen in a concert televised to over one billion people. In May 1992, Queen issued a double CD of their 'Wembley' concert, from the Magic Tour, which reached no. 2 in the albums charts. Before Christmas 1992, a double video of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was released, with all proceeds donated to the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity set up in Freddie's name to distribute raised funds.
In 1993, Queen returned to the top of the charts with George Michael, with 'Somebody To Love', recorded at Freddie's tribute. Work began in 1993 and continued through to 1995 on the tracks that Freddie had left unfinished in 1991.
In October 1995, 'Heaven For Everyone', from the long-awaited 'final' album, was released. It reached no. 2 in the charts (yet again). November saw the release of the album, 'Made In Heaven', which went straight to no. 1 and went five times platinum. Released on the same day was 'Champions Of The World', a new 2 hour documentary on the band, again compiled by the Torpedo Twins, Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher. The album gave Queen a further four hit singles throughout 1995 and 1996.
1997 began with Queen's first live performance for five years. Roger, Brian and John were joined by Spike Edney and Elton John to perform just one track, 'The Show Must Go On', at the finale of the 'Bejart Ballet For Life', a ballet set to Queen music. November 1997 saw the release of 'Queen Rocks', an collection of heavier Queen material from over the years. The album reached a relatively disappointing no. 7 in the charts. January 1998 saw the release of Queen's first new song since the death of Freddie. 'No-One But You' was released in early January, and reached no. 13 in the charts. The track saw the last work of John Deacon with Queen. Later in the year, 'The Eye', a 5 CD-Rom game was released, featuring remixed instrumental versions of many tracks, and featuring pioneering techniques in gaming.
1999 was another quiet year, spawning only an album and single. 'Greatest Hits III' was released in November, along with 'Flix III', with the album reaching no. 5 in the charts, and featuring four solo tracks from Brian and Freddie. The album was promoted with a single, a new remix of the Bowie collaboration 'Under Pressure', although this only reached no. 14 in the charts. In late 1999, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was voted as 'The Song Of The Millennium'. In July 2000, Queen returned to the top of the singles chart with boy band Five, with the single 'We Will Rock You', and their first appearance on Top Of The Pops since 1982. They also released a three-CD boxed set of their 'Greatest Hits' albums for the Christmas market, called 'The Platinum Collection'.
In March 2001, Queen were inducted into the 'Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame' at a ceremony in the USA. They appeared with two members of the Foo Fighters and keyboardist Spike Edney to perform two tracks, their first live appearance together since 1997. There was much speculation in the press throughout 2001 that Queen were recording an album with Robbie Williams, and in August 2001 the collaboration was revealed. They had recorded just one track - a remake of 'We Are The Champions', which appeared in the film 'A Knight's Tale'. The film was very successful, but the track remains unreleased. December 2001 saw another project unveiled - 'Queen Heaven', a laser show based in Munich, set to Queen music and featuring much Queen imagery.
Much of 2001 and 2002 was spent on a musical project - 'We Will Rock You' - with script by former comedian Ben Elton, featuring 31 Queen songs. In the meantime, they found time to play at a jubilee event in Holland - in front of 130,000 fans in a free concert. The musical's premiere was held on 13 May 2002, and promoted with an appearance on BBC TV's 'Parkinson'. Also on the 13th, Queen re-released 'The Platinum Collection' and it went to no. 2 in the album chart. A special 2-DVD 10th Anniversary reissue of 'The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert' was released on the same day, which went straight in at no. 1 in the DVD sales charts.
Queen also performed at the Party In The Park jubilee concert on 3rd June 2002, with Brian performing from the roof of Buckingham Palace. Throughout the year, work had been in progress on remastering Queen's first Greatest Flix video, and the result, 'Queen Greatest Video Hits I' was released on DVD on 14 October 2002, the band's first remastered DVD. True to form, the DVD went straight to no. 1 in the charts. Also in October, Queen were awarded a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and celebrated with a concert.
The 'We Will Rock You' musical quickly became the best selling West End musical, followed by cast recording released in November 2002. In early 2003, 'Flash' was remixed by German producers Vanguard, and this became a major hit in many European markets. The single was released in the UK in March.
In May 2003, Roger and Brian appeared as Queen at two charity shows, one in London, and one with Pavarotti in Italy. Also in May the 'We Will Rock You' cast album was reissued to celebrate the musical's first anniversary. In early June 2003, the second volume of the Queen 'DVD Collection' was released, 'Live At Wembley Stadium', featuring the full concert for the first time with other rare footage.
In the Summer, Queen worked on a new version of 'We Will Rock You', with Australian vocalist John Farnham. This was done partly to celebrate the rugby world cup, but also to promote the new Australian production of 'We Will Rock You', which opened in Melbourne in August. In November, the Spanish production opened, whilst 'Greatest Video Hits II' was released on DVD, featuring a wealth of archive material, which went straight to no. 1 in the charts. Queen also worked closely with Nelson Mandela and Dave Stewart for the '46664' project, including new recordings and a huge live concert in South Africa at the end of November, broadcast around the world to over two billion people. The concert was given a full CD and DVD release in April 2004.
2004 was mostly dominated by the 'We Will Rock You' musical, with the UK production going from strength to strength, and new productions opening in the USA and Russia, as well as reopenings in Australia and Spain, and work on future productions in Germany, amongst others. Queen also performed a mini-concert at the finale of the MTV Russia Awards in Moscow in October. In September 2004, Brian teamed up with Paul Rodgers at the Strat Pack, a concert to celebrate 50 years of the Fender Stratocaster, alongside many other guitar legends.
October 2004 also saw the release of the fourth volume of the Queen 'DVD Collection'. 'Queen On Fire: Live At The Bowl' was recorded at the Milton Keynes Bowl, in June 1982, and was previously only ever seen in a severely edited TV broadcast some 21 years earlier. It went straight in at #1 in the music DVD charts. On 8th November, a boxed set of the complete Live Aid concert was released, which included Queen's legendary performance for the first time. Later in the same week, Queen became the third artist to be inducted into the UK Music Hall Of Fame, after a UK television poll. At the awards ceremony, they teamed up with Paul Rodgers to perform three tracks, later broadcast on TV.
In December 2004, it was announced that Queen were to embark on an extensive European tour, again performing with Paul Rodgers, which they started in March 2004 at Fancourt in South Africa in aid of the 46664 campaign. Most venues for the tour were sold out, and the concerts received fairly good reviews from the usually hostile media. To tie in with the tour, Queen set another first, by releasing tracks from many concerts for download, many of which made an impact on the Official Download Chart. The tour was originally going to include 27 dates, but due to demand this was extended to 33, as well as two dates in the US and a mini-tour of Japan. A double CD of the tour called 'Return Of The Champions' was released in September 2005, with a DVD following in October, whilst in November, a special 30th Anniversary edition of the classic 'A Night At The Opera' album was released.
In March and April 2006, Queen + Paul Rodgers embarked on a 23 date arena tour of North America, which included their first new track, 'Take Love', a song written by Paul Rodgers for the project. March also saw the release of 'The Making Of 'A Night At The Opera'', whilst in June, a Japanese only DVD was released, titled 'Super Live In Japan', a live show recorded in Tokyo during Queen + Paul Rodgers 2005 Japanese mini-tour. September will also see the release of a new compilation of Freddie Mercury's solo material to mark his 60th birthday. There are also continuing rumours of new recordings, an anthology boxed set is planned, and there are many more productions of the musical in the pipeline. Whatever happens, the legacy of Queen will be around for a long, long time.
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