Q is for Queen

When I first heard the songs of the rock group Queen in the mid-1970s, I thought it was a very good group with songs such as:
*Killer Queen (#12 on the Billboard charts in the United States in 1975)
*You’re My Best Friend (#9 in 1976)
*Bicycle Race (#24 in 1978) – hey, I ride sometimes
*the rockabilly sensibilities of Crazy Little Thing Called Love (the group’s first #1, in 1980)
*Play The Game (#42 in 1980)
*the bass line-insistent Another One Bites The Dust (another #1, in 1980)
*the goofy fun of Flash (as in Gordon) (#42 in 1981)

Then Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991, coincidentally the same year my friend Vito died of the same disease, and I thought the legacy of the band was over. Well, except for that annoying Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby in 1990 (#1), which swiped the instrumentation and the tune of the 1981 Queen/David Bowie performance Under Pressure (#29).

But not only did the band continue to play with other vocalists, but many of their original songs lived on.

We Are The Champions has inspired re-releases (1991 Gulf War, 1994 & 1998 World Cup, e.g.) and cover versions by various winning teams in sports around the world, usually performed very badly. The other side of that 1977 #4 single, We Will Rock You has become one of those songs that gets played a great deal at US sporting events. The songs were re-released in 1992, and went to #52.

The performance of Somebody to Love on the soundtrack to the new US TV show Glee has created interest in the original (#13 in 1977) and the George Michael and Queen version (#30 in 1993), recorded for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

The title of Radio Ga Ga (#16 in 1984) was the inspiration for the name of the current popular phenomenon known as Lady Gaga.

But almost certainly, the most significant song in Queen’s oeuvre is the tiny rock opera Bohemian Rhapsody. Charting in the US in early 1976 (#9), it gained new life when it appeared in the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, when it got all the way to #2. Arguably, the best cover version is by the Muppets. (alternate location).

This is Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Cool’s favorite band, and after reexamining their music, I can better appreciate why.

So what are the rest of the members of Queen doing now?

Bassist John Deacon is retired from the music business. Drummer Roger Taylor is touring with vocalist Paul Rodgers.

The brilliant Brian May is also touring with Rodgers and Taylor. When I say brilliant, I don’t just mean his extraordinary guitar licks. In 2008, he completed “his Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics…successfully submitted the new version of his thesis on Interplanetary Dust.” A story about him recent appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal: Queen Guitarist Brian May Digs Badgers Even If the Farmers Loathe Them.

Of course, the story of Freddie Mercury is told. I did enjoy reading a comic book trade story from the past couple years called Freddie & Me, which I discussed briefly. Unfortunately, the direct link to Coverville #496, which features the rare Michael Jackson/Freddie Mercury demo to the Jacksonsโ€™ hit “State of Shock” doesn’t work; look for it on iTunes.

QUEEN lives on through its music.

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0 thoughts on “Q is for Queen”

  1. We Will Rock You is now a musical in London (and according to the teens I’ve picked up from there it’s close to brilliant). Bohemian Rhapsody has been voted best song for nine out of ten years in the Netherlands. And that cover by the Muppets must be the best cover ever!


  2. Indeed, Queen were a great band. Inventive and with a huge vocal range, and with the incredible Freddy to front them, how could they lose? And yes, they live on. I’m amazed that my son loves them too, and in fact has more of their music than I do!


  3. It certainly does age one when you know all the originals!
    Love there music and you’re right about their legacy.
    Thanks for a great post.


  4. Yes, great post and very informative. I admit to being not too familiar with Queen, – wrong generation, but do like the music I have listened to.


  5. I’m not really a big fan of the Queen but after hearing his songs being played in CD by the sons and hubby, it kind of grow on me. Now I can’t get that song we will rock you, out of my head! lol


  6. Queen were and are, to an extent, still great. Paul Rodgers has a wonderful voice but I’m afraid there is no replacing the sheer showmanship of Freddie. He’s still sadly missed. And Brian May? I know I couldn’t believe it when I heard that he had a doctorate in a science subject – as if being intelligent and being a rock star are mutually exclusive. (Tut tut, slap my wrist). Really enjoyed this post Roger. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Used to blast “we are the champs” on the stereo in the dorm, and “we will, we will rock you” (Leggoland has rocks singing that now)…and my fave about fat-bottom girls. Great memories. Thx!


  8. Brian May completed his Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics? Who would have thought…! I have to be in a particular frame of mind to listen to a lot of Queen music but my favorite is Bohemian Rhapsody, despite the Wayne’s World association. As always, thanks for the history/culture lesson.


  9. Yes-this is a queen of a ‘different color’ than the one I did! I guess the saying works better with the word, horse of a different color…

    However, one of my favorite groups whose music is still enjoyable decades later.


  10. That’1s on eof the best choices this week! :o) Just love this awesome band! What a voice Freddy Mercury had.. And Brian May is so talented! I heard he creates his solos based on maths!

    Great Q post!

    Kisses from us.


  11. This is still my favourite group and I love all songs ! I have been in a concert here in Brussels two years ago with a Freddy Mercury “imitator” (he managed to sing like him but kept his own personality) it was absolutely great ! Unfortunately I don’t remember his name right now, he sings with the official agreement of “Queens”


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