Queen formed in 1971 and in 1973 signed their first recording contract for EMI. That year they released their first album, Queen. The same year saw their first major UK tour, and in 1974 they released Queen II, as well as making their first UK headlining tour. They made their first US tour, and in November released Sheer Heart Attack which was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Released in 1975, the single “Bohemian Rhapsody” from A Night at the Opera should have been too long for successful radio play at five minutes, 55 seconds, but it became one of the greatest singles of all time, staying at Number One in the UK chart for nine weeks. The video, directed by Bruce Gowers, is credited with being the first genuine promotional video. The song has regularly featured in all major pop polls and was recently named again as the best single of all time. The success of A Night at the Opera was equally stunning, giving the band their first platinum album.
In 1976 they toured the US and Japan and by spring all four albums resided in the UK Top Twenty. Later that year they released A Day at the Races, and gave a free concert in Hyde Park to an estimated crowd of 200,000 fans. The album was a huge success, advance orders alone amounting to over 500,000. The following year saw two major US tours, the band’s sixth album, News of the World, and the legendary double A-side single, “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions”.
Jazz (1978) included another huge hit single in “Bicycle Race” and Queen toured the US and Canada. They spent much of 1979 touring in Europe and Japan, as well as releasing their first live album, Live Killers. They were also approached to write the score for a forthcoming feature film, Flash Gordon. Before that they released The Game in 1980 which went five times platinum in Canada alone! “Another One Bites the Dust” became the band’s biggest selling American single. Later that year the soundtrack for Flash Gordon was released and by the end of the year Queen had sold over 45,000,000 albums worldwide.
In 1981 they toured the Far East and were the first band to make a stadium tour of South America. They played to 131,000 people in Sao Paolo, the largest paying audience for any band anywhere in the world. Greatest Hits, Greatest Flix and Greatest Pix were released simultaneously later in the year and Greatest Hits has rarely been out of the UK album charts since. Greatest Flix was the first collection of promo-videos released commercially by any band. Next year saw the release of the band’s twelfth album, Hot Space, while they were in the middle of a European tour.
The Works (1984) and the single “Radio Ga Ga” became a worldwide hit, reaching Number One in 19 countries. Another huge hit was “I Want to Break Free”, featuring one of their most famous videos, all dressed in drag. In 1985 they were the headlining act at Rock in Rio, the biggest festival to be held anywhere in the world. They 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, “One Vision” being the first post Live Aid release.
Their fourteenth album, A Kind of Magic (1986), was the soundtrack to the Russel Mulcahy film, Highlander. The title track became another worldwide smash and the album entered the UK charts at Number One; later in the year the second live album, Live Magic, went into the charts at Number Three. Between 1988 and 1991 Queen released three more albums, The Miracle in 1989 and in 1991, Innuendo and Greatest Hits Two. All three entered the UK charts at Number One, as did the single “Innuendo”.
On November 23, 1991 Freddie Mercury announced to the world that he had AIDS and the next day he died peacefully at his home, 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 world. As a tribute “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 Number One, where it stayed for five weeks, raising over 1,000,000 pounds for the charity and Queen became the first band to have the same single top the UK charts twice. In December of that year Queen had ten albums in the UK Top 100. In 1992 Freddie was awarded posthumously the BRIT’s “Outstanding Contribution to British Music” and “Days of Our Lives” won Best Single. On April 20th many of the world’s top stars joined Brian, Roger and John on stage at Wembley for an emotional tribute to Freddie.
In 1995 the tracks that Queen had begun in 1991 were completed by Brian, Roger and John and the long-awaited Made in Heaven was released worldwide. It was the end of an era. Since then the phenomenon of Queen has remained, however, with continuing sales for their recorded output on CD and video. A ballet of their music by famous French choreographer Maurice Bejart was premiered at the National Theatre in Paris in 1997 and in May 2002 the hit musical We Will Rock You opened to sell-out audiences in London’s West End and continues to play to packed houses and standing ovations every night. Queen’s first DVD Greatest Video Hits Vol.1 was released at the end of October 2002, and yet another piece of Queen to enter the UK charts at Number One. October 2002 also saw Queen receive their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, joining The Beatles as only one of a handful of non-US bands to receive the much coveted honor. In 2004 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Walk of Fame, and in the UK were voted by the public into the first UK Music Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Brian and Roger took Queen back onto the touring circuit for the first time since 1986, joined by former Free/Bad Company singer, songwriter and musician Paul Rodgers playing concerts across the UK and throughout Europe.
“I never thought I would be doing this again,” said Brian May talking about Queen and Paul Rodgers’ first tour in 2005. “I was always against the idea of putting someone in there trying to impersonate Freddie in any way. Then suddenly I’m looking at this guy who doesn’t in any sense try to take the place of Freddie. He comes from his own place musically and we are able to reinterpret these songs with someone who understands us - the songs mean something new.”
The collaboration between Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor and former Free and Bad Company founding member songwriter/singer Paul Rodgers was cemented in late 2004 when May, Taylor and Rodgers performed in public together for the first time in November of that year, bringing the house to its feet at the first annual UK Music Hall of Fame Awards in London. On the night when Queen was inducted into the very first UK Music Hall of Fame, they served up a blistering cocktail of anthems “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions” and closed the show with “All Right Now”.
“There was a natural chemistry between us when we performed together that night,” said Rodgers. “The idea took hold for us to do something together after that, and the momentum took on a life of its own.”
Roger Taylor noted: “Paul is one of the people who have influenced many great singers out there at the moment, and Freddie was a great fan of his. I always hoped we would tour again and I’m thrilled we’re doing it. After all, it’s our profession. It’s what we do and what we’re good at.”
In 2005 Queen + Paul Rodgers undertook their first tour together, playing 32 sold-out dates across Europe and the UK, ending with a spectacular and enthralling concert at London Hyde Park.
The tour was followed by the release of the live concert DVD and simultaneous CD release, Return of the Champions, which became a Number One DVD in the UK.
Now, with their first album recorded together in the pipeline - the first new studio album to carry the Queen name since the Freddie Mercury sessions - Queen + Paul Rodgers are heading back on the road for an extensive tour which will take them to fourteen countries in seven weeks and take in concerts in Northern Eurasia, Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, and the UK.. It is expected to be followed by a highly anticipated return to South America, the setting of some of Queen’s most historic and record breaking tours in the early ‘80s.
Tracks on the new Queen + Paul Rodgers album are all newly written by May, Taylor and Rodgers during the late 2007/ early 2008 recording sessions. “Say It’s Not True”, previously released at the end of last year by Queen + Paul Rodgers as a special World Aids Day download for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 HIV AIDS charity will be included, plus a “first” for a Queen album - a cover version.