The Complete Story: Queen

The Complete Story: Queen

The Complete Story: Queen

Almost 50 years after Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor recruited bassist John Deacon to the newly-formed Queen, the band's music continues to resonate with audiences all over the world. Discover the stories behind their eclectic discography, including how Bohemian Rhapsody defied the critics to become a chart-topping success – widely-regarded as one of the greatest songs ever written. This special edition chronicles Queen's rise from student band to rock gods, including their sell-out world tours, scene-stealing Live Aid performance and enduring legacy.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd


from the editor

To a nine year old kid, listening to his dad’s copy of Queen’s Greatest Hits on a state-of-the-art 1981 Hitachi stereo for the first time was like stepping through a portal into another world. To my untrained ears, this was nothing like the plastic pop clogging up the charts of the time: there was stadium-sized heavy rock and delicate ballads, there was finger-popping funk and skyscraping gospel. And then there was this crazed operatic blowout that sounded like it had beamed into from… well, god knows where. Not that my tiny, nine-year old mind knew how to describe any of it. But I knew it was something unique and special. Greatest Hits led to to me saving up my paper round money to byQueen II, complete with crack in the vinyl…

no time for losers

“If this is our brightest hope for the future then we are committing rock’n’roll suicide.”Record Mirror in the early 70s Wembley Stadium, July 13, 1985. When Freddie Mercury skipped like a show pony on to the Live Aid stage, right arm aiming air-hooks at the sea of faces before him, it’s worth remembering that Queen were at a new low point in their career. Following their controversial decision nine months previously to perform at Sun City, jewel in the segregated crown of apartheid-ruled South Africa – an act in direct violation of United Nations sanctions that would see them fined by the UK Musicians’ Union and placed on a United Nations blacklist – Queen had become pariahs of pop; outcasts of rock; social, musical and political undesirables. It didn’t help that Queen…

“we had a desire to create something extraordinary”

“For a long time it was my favourite Queen album. It got overtaken by Made In Heaven, which I think is, strangely enough, perhaps the deepest Queen album, because we did it after Freddie had gone, but I’ve always loved that record. In a sense it was the biggest jump we ever made creatively.” It says something about Brian May that he seizes the phone so enthusiastically to begin talking about Queen II, a record he made more than half a lifetime ago. He has excused himself from one meeting, and has another to attend immediately afterwards. Cheerful, thoughtful and engaged by the subject, it is only the next morning that Queen’s guitarist and co-founder will post on his blog (on which he can be as irascible in print as he…

stone cold crazy

“Darling, he’s far too busy in the studio. That’s what happens when you get sick in Queen – you have to make the time up.” In the South London offices of his band’s PR company, a characteristically flamboyant Freddie Mercury is entertaining the press. It’s the autumn of 1974, and Queen have almost completed their third album, Sheer Heart Attack. Almost. For Mercury’s bandmate Brian May there’s still work to do. It’s just a few months since the guitarist was felled by a virulent bout of hepatitis mid-way through their debut US tour, and subsequently hospitalised for a second time with a stomach ulcer, forcing him to miss initial sessions for the album. May is currently holed up in the studio, finishing off his guitar parts, hence his absence today. It’s typical…

vaseline & seaweed

“I met Queen when they were looking for someone to shoot a press shot for their first album and a cover for Queen II. I came up with the lighting concept for the sleeve, which was an echo of an old Marlene Dietrich picture. “The Sheer Heart Attack cover was their idea. They were very articulate, very well educated. Freddie was the arty one, but I think it was Roger who came up with the idea. They wanted to look like they’d been thrown up on some distant island. Course, when it came to the shoot itself they wondered what the fuck they were doing. “If you’d have walked in the studio at that point you’d have seen four geezers lying on the floor, covered in glycerine and having water chucked over…

killer queens

BRIGHTON ROCK Fastbacks Seattle pop-punks (and Duff McKagan’s old band) turn in a shambolic version of Brian May’s guitar-hero showcase. On: Bike-Toy-Clock-Gift KILLER QUEEN Glenn Hughes Old leather lungs brings some Black Country earthiness to Freddie Mercury’s foppish tale of a high-class hooker. On: Stone Cold Queen: A Tribute TENEMENT FUNSTER/FLICK OF THE WRIST/LILY OF THE VALLEY Dream Theater Hirsute Yanks park the neo-prog workouts for a faithful rendition of Sheer Heart Attack’s triple-headed cornerstone medley. On: Black Clouds & Silver Lining: Special Edition NOW I’M HERE Foo Fighters Never ones to hide their Queen fandom under a bushel, Dave Grohl’s mob have been known to deliver a rough-and-ready version of May’s signature song live. On: various live bootlegs STONE COLD CRAZY Metallica James Hetfield’ and co. add muscle to Queen’s proto-thrash original. Unveiled at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, and a live…