Queen are a British rock band that formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (lead guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar). Queen’s earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock, into their music.
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The epitome of pomp-rock in the Seventies and Eighties, Queen rocked radio and sports stadiums alike with booming, highly produced anthems like “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.” Onstage, the English quartet used elaborate sets smoke bombs, and flashpots — none of which were quite as captivating as the band’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury, whose preening and over-the-top vocals helped make Queen wildly popular.
Queen’s roots go back to 1967, when guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor joined singer Tim Staffell in a group called Smile. Staffell soon left to go solo, and the remaining two Smiles teamed up with Freddie Mercury (from a group called Wreckage) and later bassist John Deacon. They played very few gigs at the start, avoiding the club circuit and rehearsing for two years while they all remained in college. They began touring in 1973, when their debut album was released. After a second LP, the band made its U.S. tour debut, opening for Mott the Hoople.
Queen’s sound combined showy glam rock, heavy metal, and intricate vocal harmonies produced by multi-tracking Mercury’s voice. May’s guitar was also thickly overdubbed.
Heavy-metal fans loved Queen , and the band’s audience grew with its breakthrough LP, 1975’s A Night at the Opera. It contained the six-minute masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which featured an operatic section in which Mercury’s voice was spread over dozens of tracks. “Bohemian Rhapsody” stayed at Number One in England for nine weeks and in 2018, a film of the same name was released, celebrating Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Queen’s popularity continued to soar through the late 70s and early 80s with numerous hits. As a live act, Queen continued to draw huge crowds around the world. One of their most notable performances was in 1985 at the Live Aid charity concert.
By 1989, Mercury largely retreated from public life. He did not promote or tour for Queen’s next album, Innuendo (1991), and rumours about possible health problems began to circulate. On November 23, 1991, Mercury released a statement: “I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV-positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.” The next day, he died from AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia at his London mansion. Mercury was only 45 years old.
The band released a total of 18 number-one albums, 18 number-one singles, and 10 number-one DVDs. Estimates of their record sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Queen received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
The film Bohemian Rhapsody was released in 2018 (starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury) and focused on Queen’s formative years and the period leading up to the celebrated performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. The film has grossed over $900 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing musical biographical film of all time.
Queen Backing Tracks: Another One Bites The Dust … Bicycle … Body Language … Bohemian Rhapsody … Break Thru … Crazy Little Little Thing Called Love … Days Of Our Lives … Don’t Stop Me Now … Fat Bottomed Girls … Flash … Friends Will Be Friends … Gimme The Prize (Kurgan’s Theme) … Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy … Hammer To Fall … Headlong … Heaven For Everyone … I’m Going Slightly Mad … Innuendo … Invisible Man … It’s A Hard Life … It’s A Kind Of Magic … I Want It All … I Want To Break Free … Killer Queen … Let Me Live … Love Of My Life … No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young) … Now I’m Here … One Vision … Play The Game … Princess Of The Universe … Radio GaGa … Save Me … Seven Seas Of Rhye … Sheer Heart Attack … Show Must Go On … Somebody To Love … Spread Your Wings … Thank God It’s Christmas … There Must Be More to Life Than This … These Are The Days Of Our Lives … Tie Your Mother Down … Too Much Love Will Kill You … Under Pressure … We Are The Champions … We Will Rock You … Who Want’s To Live Forever … You’re My Best Friend …