I suppose you all know who I am targeting at – certainly not Her Majesty of England. I’ll write a brief story of one of the best rock band ever which use this majestic noun, but for sure they deserve it.
Let’s go back in 70s of the last century, the era of Swinging London, the time of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The four young British boys: Freddy Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor formed the group The Queen in London in 1970 as a school band, and they stayed together for years until Freddy Mercury’s (Farrokh Bulsara) tragic death. All of them were well educated, for example May attended Imperial College, studying maths, physics and astronomy.
Before forming the band Roger Taylor and Brian May were playing for The Smile. Freddy Mercury who was a fan of Smile, joined those two and soon convinced them to experiment with recording techniques and electronic music as in Queen’s early years they were influenced by hard rock and heavy metal. With their next two albums, Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack (both from 1974), Queen successfully caught up with them.
Onstage, though, it was Mercury who was the focal point. The British press largely hated what it saw as his campy, theatrical mannerisms. But he was steadily building a powerful, uncommon bond between the band and its audience, often engaging fans in sing-alongs. Recording their fourth album, 1975’s A Night at the Opera, Queen felt that their time had come. Mercury had ideas for a ludicrously epic track with Bohemian Rhapsody: from the opening ballad section, the song soared into operetta form, then into battering rock &roll, finally back to a ballad. The band overdubbed some 180 vocal parts for the song, fashioning its famous cathedral-like chorale sound. In the years since, the song has routinely headed British lists of all-time best song!
In 1976, around the time the album A Day at the Races appeared, the punk movement began to draw divisions in rock, and harshly disparaged the music of bands like Queen. After their epic 1975 album A Night at the Opera, they had had hits in a stylistically diverse range: from baroque pop to hard rock, disco, rockabilly and funk. Then, by the mid-1980s, their fates had shifted – in part because many fans had trouble accepting Mercury’s perceived homosexuality.
Whatever the reasons, Queen’s sound changed dramatically with their 1977 album News of the World. This was much starker music; lush orchestrations and harmonies had been replaced with odd and novel constructions. Two of the album’s tracks, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” are Queen’s most widely known songs. The song “Champions” became the universal bully chants of victors at sporting events.
Most of their remaining albums – including Jazz (1978), The Game (1980), The Works (1984) and A Kind of Magic (1986) – never again aimed for stylistic cohesion, but nonetheless produced a steady series of hits (among them “Under Pressure,” with David Bowie; “Radio Ga Ga,” by Taylor; “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” by Mercury; and “Another One Bites the Dust,” by Deacon) that helped Queen attract larger and larger concert audiences. Queen remained a touring juggernaut, filling stadiums and arenas internationally through much of the 1980s. The tours were so big, the shows so spectacular, that it all became another aspect that worked against the band. To some observers, Queen was industry, not art.
After a mind-stopping error of judgment in 1984, when Queen elected to play a series of shows in apartheid South Africa, the band appeared to be pariahs even in its native England. But then, after the Live Aid performance in 1985– which exemplified everything extraordinary about Queen, their scope, their virtuosity, their command of a stage – all anybody wanted was more. Later that year Queen began work on the album A Kind of Magic, and also made a huge summer tour. At tour’s end, ticket demand for the concerts was enormous, and Queen added a new final date at Knebworth Park on August 9th, 1986, playing for an audience of about 200,000. Queen had played their last show as Freddy Mercury would no longer want to be seen by the audiences.
When the band’s 13th album, The Miracle, was finished in early 1989, the singer wanted to start another LP right away. After Innuendo, Mercury again wanted to keep on recording but he pass away on 24 November 1991 at age 45. Queen begins and ends with Freddie Mercury. He embodied the band’s identity, its triumphs and failings, and he was the psyche whose loss it couldn’t survive.
Today, nearly 25 years after Freddie Mercury died of AIDS, Queen’s legacy – as one of rock’s biggest and most controversial bands – is still inseparable from him, whatever the success the rest of member group has had. Today Queen still performs on Stadium with help from some musicians like George Michael and Paul Rogers, and made documentary movies and tracks about their glorious past.
The best song Mercury sang in his last years, “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” was written for him by Taylor, and I will end this narrative by lyrics in which Freddy Mercury says everything he has left to say: “Those were the days of our lives – yeah/The bad things in life were so few/Those days are all gone now, but one thing’s still true/When I look and I find/I still love you. . . . I still love you.”
Yes, your Majesty of Queen I still love you….
Napisao: Martin Božić