With the addition of John Deacon as the last member to join the band, Queen formed in 1971 and in late 1972 signed their first recording contract with EMI.
On July 6th 1973, Queen released their first single ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, followed closely by their debut album on which the track featured, Queen, released on the 13th July that same year. Starting in November of this year, the band supported Mott The Hoople on an extensive UK tour, followed by a tour of the USA in 1974, also with Mott.
1974 saw the release of the band’s second album, Queen II, containing their first hit single ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’ which charted in the UK at number 10. This was followed in October by a second hit single (their first US hit), ‘Killer Queen’, taken from the Sheer Heart Attack album, followed later in the year by a major UK tour.
1975 saw the release of the epic single ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, taken from A Night at the Opera. At 5’ 55” it should have been too long for successful radio play, but even so it went to No. 1 in the UK chart and stayed there for an unprecedented nine consecutive weeks, becoming one of the greatest singles of all time.
In 1976 Queen toured the US and Japan on a grand scale and later that year gave a free concert in London’s Hyde Park, to an estimated crowd of 200,000. December saw the release of the band’s next album, A Day At The Races, giving them further hit singles including ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.
In 1977, Queen issued the single ‘We Are The Champions’ c/w ‘We Will Rock You’. Both songs would soon become among the band’s most popular and best loved of their career - and long after. The Champions/Rock You pairing is one of the most famous and most played in the world, at sports events, and in many other contexts. The single was followed by the release of Queen’s sixth album, News of The World, from which they come, in October 1977. The band also undertook two extensive US tours (including Canada) in this year.
After a European tour, 1978 saw another huge hit single in the double-A sided ‘Bicycle Race’ / ‘Fat Bottomed Girls ’, taken from the band’s next album, Jazz. The band spent much of 1979 touring in Europe (including the infamous Crazy Tour of London) and Japan, as well as releasing their first live album, Live Killers, and two further international hits with ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and ‘Love Of My Life (Live)’ – a smash hit No. 1 in South America. During this time the band were also approached to write the score for a forthcoming feature film,’ Flash Gordon’.
In 1980, the band’s next album, The Game, gave them two further No.1 singles worldwide, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. The latter became Queen’s biggest selling American single of all time, staying at the top of the singles chart for three weeks, while the band toured America once again. The Game album saw the band move in a different musical direction, introducing synthesizers for the first time. In the same year they also released their ‘Flash Gordon’ soundtrack. By the end of 1980, Queen had sold over 45,000,000 albums and singles worldwide.
In 1981, after a brief tour of Japan, Queen were the first band to undertake a stadium tour of South America. They played to 131,000 people in Sao Paolo, the largest paying audience for any artist anywhere in the world. At the end of 1981 the band teamed up with David Bowie for the single that was to become one of their biggest world-wide hits and a band anthem, ‘Under Pressure’. It has become one of the most covered and sampled of all Queen songs.
The next album, Hot Space, released in May 1982 found the band in funk mode, experimenting once again, this time in more dance-based music with tracks such as ‘Body Language’ and ‘Back Chat’. Queen spent much of the year touring Europe, US and Japan.
1984 saw the single ‘Radio Ga Ga’, taken from The Works album become a worldwide hit, reaching No. 1 in 19 countries. Another huge success was ‘I Want To Break Free’, featuring one of the band’s most famous videos, in which they all dressed in drag, in a tribute to the popular UK TV soap ‘Coronation Street’. The singles ‘It’s A Hard Life and’ ‘Hammer To Fall’ also came from The Works – the first Queen album to feature a hit single written by each band member. In late Summer the band embarked upon another European tour.
In 1985 Queen were the headlining act for two nights at the vast Rock in Rio in Brazil, the biggest festival to be held anywhere in the world. Queen again made history that year with the show-stealing performance at Live Aid from Wembley Stadium, which proved to be a turning point for the band. The single ‘One Vision’ was the first post Live Aid release and a direct response to the band’s involvement in this historic event.
1986 saw the 12th album, A Kind Of Magic, effectively the soundtrack to the Russell Mulcahy film, ‘Highlander’. The album returned the band to No.1 on the charts in many territories. Queen toured Europe extensively throughout the year, culminating with two legendary concerts at Wembley Stadium, and their biggest ever in the UK, an open air show at Knebworth Park, on 9 August. Unbeknown at the time, this was to be Queen’s last ever concert with Freddie Mercury.
The band’s next studio album came three years later, The Miracle, released June 1989. The album went straight into the charts at No. 1 and gave the band a string of chart singles including ‘I Want It All’, ‘Breakthru’ and ‘The Invisible Man’ – and a host of more wonderful accompanying videos.
This was followed in 1991 with Queen’s last true studio album with Freddie, ‘Innuendo’, released in February. Both the title track single and the album entered the charts at No.1 on their first week of release in the UK. The last track released as a single, ‘The Show Must Go On’ came in November 1991, a matter of weeks before Freddie Mercury would lose his struggle with HIV AIDS.
On 23rd November 1991 Freddie Mercury announced to the world that he had AIDS and the next day he died peacefully at his home, aged just 45, surrounded by family and friends. He remains the most high profile loss from the disease in the entertainment world and the news shocked fans throughout the globe. As a tribute to Freddie, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ / ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ was released as a double A-sided single to raise funds for the Terence Higgins Trust. It entered the UK chart at No. 1, where it stayed for five weeks, raising over £1,000,000 for the charity. Queen had become the first band to have the same single top the UK charts twice.
In 1992 Freddie was posthumously awarded the BRIT’s “Outstanding Contribution to British Music” and ‘The Days Of Our Lives’ won Best Single. On 20th April many of the world’s top stars joined Brian, Roger and John on stage at Wembley for an emotional tribute to their beloved lost colleague. The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert saw performances by such great artists as George Michael, Annie Lennox, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, U2, Elton John and David Bowie, all coming together to remember Freddie and alert the world to the threat of HIV AIDS. The concert was televised to an unprecedented seventy countries worldwide and saw the foundation of The Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS awareness and support charity which continues to provide support and guidance to more than 300 organisations worldwide.
By the end of 1995 the unreleased tracks Queen had begun in 1991 with Freddie were completed by Brian, Roger and John and the long-awaited album Made In Heaven was released worldwide, to huge acclaim and success. It was the last Queen album ever to feature Freddie, and it was the end of an era.
In May 2002 the hit musical We Will Rock You opened to sell-out audiences in London’s West End, and nine years later continues to play to packed houses and standing ovations every night. Since the London opening the show has seen local productions staged throughout the world including Spain, Australia, Germany, Russia, Italy, Japan, South Asia, Las Vegas, Canada and across Europe. To date more than 12 million people have seen the show.
October 2002 also saw Queen receive their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in Los Angeles, joining The Beatles as one of only a handful of non-US bands to receive this much coveted honour.
In 2004 Queen were inducted into the Rock and Roll Walk of Fame, and were also voted by the UK public into the first UK Music Hall of Fame.
Between 2005 to 2008, Brian and Roger took Queen back onto the touring circuit again, for the first time since 1986, joined by former Free/Bad Company singer, songwriter and musical Paul Rodgers, playing concerts across the UK, Europe, North and South America and Japan.
To this day Queen hold the record for the biggest selling album of all time in the UK with Greatest Hits which, since its release in 1981, has sold a phenomenal 5.7 million copies, ahead of albums by The Beatles, Oasis, Dire Straits, Abba and Pink Floyd.