You have to go all the way back to 1968 to discover the beginnings of what would become arguably the greatest rock band of all time, Queen. Brian May was a student at London’s Imperial College and together with Tim Staffell, decided to form a band. Roger Taylor answered a message on the college notice board and the trio became a group calling themselves Smile.
Staffell was friends with a fellow student by the name of Farrokh Bulsara, who went by the English name of Freddie. Staffell left Smile in 1970 and the other band members persuaded Bulsara to join them and the band changed its name to Queen.
Farrokh Bulsara to Freddie Mercury
Queen played their first gig in July 1970 and had a number of different bass players for the next few months before John Deacon joined the band. May, Taylor, Bulsara and Deacon set about recording their first album; it was around this time that Bulsara changed his stage name to Freddie Mercury.
It took until July 1973 for Queen to release their first album. They had signed with Trident/EMI by this time and the first album was entitled simply Queen. The album was well received by critics, yet it experienced poor sales.
Queen II, released in 1974, reached number five in the British album chart, this becoming the first Queen album to chart in the United Kingdom. The band’s first real taste of international success came in 1974 when Queen released Sheer Heart Attack, their third studio album. This album soared to number two in the UK and went gold in the United States of America.
The Legendary Bohemian Rhapsody
A Night at the Opera was, at the time, the most expensive album ever produced when it was released in late 1975. The hard work and invested money paid off because it enjoyed massive success in the UK and went triple platinum in the U.S. It has subsequently been voted the in the top 10 albums of all time by various polls.
It was this album that featured the world famous Bohemian Rhapsody, which has gone on to be the third bestselling single of all time in the UK; it spent nine weeks at number one in the UK. The accompanying video is considered to be the first true music video ever produced and paved the way for other musicians to produce videos to go with their music.
Queen continued to enjoy almost unrivalled success with each of its singles being well received, which meant the band sold an estimated 300 million records around the world. Things took a turn for the worse, however, in 1988 when fans began noticing Mercury’s deteriorating appearance.
The Passing of a True Legend
Media around the world reported Mercury was suffering from AIDS, although he initially denied this and stated he was exhausted after almost 20 years of performing. Mercury finally released a statement in November 1991 that he was suffering with AIDS> He died with 24 hours of the statement’s release from pneumonia, a common complication of AIDS.
The remaining members of Queen continue to make guest appearances to this day, but there isn’t the same feel about them without the enigmatic Mercury long gone from the scene.