Before joining Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had been playing together in a band named Smileeponymous debut album (1973). Queen enjoyed success in the UK with their debut and its follow-up, Queen II (1974), but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera (1975) that gained the band international success. The latter featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", which stayed at number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks; it charted at number one in several other territories, and gave the band their first top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Their 1977 album, News of the World, contained two of rock's most recognisable anthems, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions". By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world, and their performance at 1985's Live Aid is regarded as one of the greatest in rock history. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have infrequently performed together, including a collaboration with Paul Rodgers under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers which ended in May 2009.
with bassist Tim Staffell. Freddie Mercury (then known as Farrokh/Freddie Bulsara) was a fan of Smile, and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques after Staffell's departure in 1970. Mercury himself joined the band shortly thereafter, changed the name of the band to "Queen", and adopted his familiar stage name. John Deacon was recruited prior to recording their
The band have released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Estimates of their album sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million albums, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
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.
While attending Ealing Art College, Tim Staffell became friends with Farrokh Bulsara, a fellow student who had assumed the English name of Freddie. Bulsara 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 Bulsara, changed their name to "Queen" and continued working together.When asked about the name, Bulsara 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."
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; no record companies were interested. It was also around this time Freddie changed his surname to "Mercury", inspired by the line "Mother Mercury, look what they've done to me," in the song My Fairy King. On 2 July 1971, Queen played their first show in the classic line-up of Mercury, May, Deacon and Taylor at a Surrey college outside London.US in November 1978.
In 1978, Queen toured the US and Canada, and spent much of 1979 touring in Europe and Japan.They released their first live album, Live Killers, in 1979; it went platinum twice in the United States. Queen also released the very successful single "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", a rockabilly inspired song done in the style of Elvis Presley. The song made the top 10 in many countries, topped the Australian ARIA Charts for seven consecutive weeks, and was the band's first number one single in the United States where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. Having written the song on guitar and played rhythm on the record, Mercury played rhythm guitar while performing the song live, which was the first time he ever played guitar in concert. In December 1979, Queen played the opening night at the Concert for the People of Kampuchea in London, having accepted a request by the event's organiser Paul McCartney.
Departure from EMI, 40th Anniversary (2009–present)On 20 May 2009, May and 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. In mid-2009, after the split of Queen + Paul Rodgers, the Queen online website announced a new greatest hits compilation named Absolute Greatest. The album was released on 16 November and peaked at number 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, May wrote a fanclub letter on his website stating that Queen had no intentions to tour in 2010 but that there was a possibility of a performance. He was 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, May and Taylor performed "Bohemian Rhapsody" live on the British TV show The X Factor alongside the finalists.
On 7 May 2010, May and Taylor announced that they were quitting their record label, EMI, after almost 40 years. On 20 August 2010, Queen's manager Jim Beach put out a Newsletter stating that the band had signed a new contract with Universal Music. During an interview for Hardtalk on the BBC on 22 September, May confirmed that the band's new deal was with Island Records, a subsidiary of Universal. For the first time since the late 1980s, Queen's catalogue will have the same distributor worldwide, as their US home, Hollywood Records, is currently distributed by Universal (for a time in the late 1980s, Queen was on EMI-owned Capitol Records in the US).
On 14 March 2011, which marked the band's 40th anniversary, Queen's first five albums were re-released in the UK and some other territories as remastered deluxe editions (the US versions were released on 17 May). The second five albums of Queen's back catalogue were released worldwide on 27 June, with the exception of the US and Canada (27 September). The final five were released in the UK on 5 September.
In May 2011, Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell noted that Queen are currently scouting their once former and current live bassist Chris Chaney to join the band. Farrell stated: "I have to keep Chris away from Queen, who want him and they're not gonna get him unless we're not doing anything. Then they can have him." In the same month, Paul Rodgers stated he may tour with Queen again in the near future. At the 2011 Broadcast Music, Incorporated (BMI) Awards held in London on 4 October, Queen received the BMI Icon Award in recognition for their airplay success in the US. At the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards on 6 November, Queen received the Global Icon Award, which Katy Perry presented to Brian May. Queen closed the awards ceremony, with Adam Lambert on vocals, performing "The Show Must Go On", "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions". The collaboration garnered a positive response from both fans and critics, resulting in speculation about future projects together.
In October 2011, it was announced that Queen will be recording a new album featuring lost demos of Mercury on vocals. Brian May confirmed that he and Taylor are working their way through the band's old material to compile a selection of unreleased songs for the forthcoming album. May also revealed that a series of duets that Mercury recorded with Michael Jackson are to be released in 2012.On 25 and 26 April, May and Taylor appeared on the eleventh series of American Idol at the Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, performing a Queen medley with the six finalists on the first show, and the following day performed "Somebody to Love" with the 'Queen Extravaganza' band. Queen were scheduled to headline Sonisphere at Knebworth on 7 July 2012 with Adam Lambert before the festival was cancelled. Queen's final concert with Freddie Mercury was in Knebworth in 1986. Brian May commented, "It's a worthy challenge for us, and I'm sure Adam would meet with Freddie's approval." Queen expressed disappointment at the cancellation and released a statement to the effect that they were looking to find another venue. It was later announced that Queen + Adam Lambert would play two shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, London on 11 and 12 July 2012. Both shows sold out within 24 hours of tickets going on open sale. A third London date was scheduled for 14 July. On 30 June, Queen + Lambert performed in Kiev, Ukraine at a joint concert with Elton John for the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation. Queen also performed with Lambert on 3 July 2012 at Moscow's Olympic Stadium, and on 7 July 2012 at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland.
On 12 August 2012, Queen performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The performance at London's Olympic Stadium opened with a special remastered video clip of Freddie Mercury on stage performing his call and response routine during their 1986 concert at Wembley Stadium. Following this, May performed part of the "Brighton Rock" solo before being joined by Taylor and solo artist Jessie J for a performance of "We Will Rock You".