Phil & Mel In The Afternoon

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8th September 1976: British rock group Queen at Les Ambassadeurs, where they were presented with silver, gold and platinum discs for sales in excess of one million of their hit single 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. The band are, from left to right, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury (Frederick Bulsara, 1946 - 1991), Roger Taylor and Brian May. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Queen formed in London in 1970 after singer Freddie Mercury met guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor of the band Smile. It was Mercury who suggested the name change. Bass player John Deacon joined in 1971. During the ’70s, the band was influenced by progressive rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and even a little opera.

As the 1980s approached, Queen evolved into more of an arena rock and pop sound that broadened their international appeal even further. While the band had always displayed expert musicianship, it was the dynamic four-octave vocal range and theatrical stage presence of Freddie Mercury that separated Queen from the pack and drew the adulation of audiences worldwide.

Freddie Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, in 1991. John Deacon retired in 1997. Since 2004, Brian May and Roger Taylor have toured as “Queen +”, with vocalists Paul Rodgers (2004-2009) and Adam Lambert (2011-present). For our purposes here, let’s revisit three of Queen’s earliest and biggest hits.

  • Killer Queen (1974)

    “Killer Queen” was written by lead singer Freddie Mercury and recorded for Queen’s third album, Sheer Heart Attack, in 1974. It peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart and became their first US hit, reaching number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100. This video clip comes from Top of the Pops, a BBC television show that aired weekly from 1964 to 2006. It was the world’s longest-running weekly TV music program.

  • Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

    Despite mixed reviews from critics, the operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody” was well-received by the public. Released as the first single from A Night at the Opera, the nearly six-minute suite topped the charts all over the world in 1975; again as part of the Wayne’s World soundtrack in 1992; and once more following the release of the 2018 biopic, also called Bohemian Rhapsody.

  • Somebody To Love (1976)

    “Somebody to Love” was the first single from Queen’s 1976 album, A Day at the Races. The band’s drummer, Roger Taylor, told Circus Magazine that the song was “Aretha Franklin-influenced” with its gospel choir sound. However, the “100-voice choir” was actually a vocal layering of Taylor, Freddie Mercury, and Brian May. The video takes us back and forth between the recording studio and the concert stage.