Queen in the news again:
- Queen became the latest band bestowed with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on Friday, October 18. The unveiling of the star, installed on Hollywood Boulevard, took place near the cross street of Ivar.
The honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant, called it a “royal day in Hollywood” and mentioned all four members of Queen–late vocalist Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon, and drummer Roger Taylor. Grant also quipped to the crowd of several hundred cheering fans, “I welcome all you Queens to Hollywood Boulevard,” adding, “I had to get that in.”
Here is my general assessment of Queen:
Queen began as a glammy hard rock rock of incredible power in the early-70’s, establishing a reputation for soaring, muti-tracked group vocals and an explosive, theatrical live show before slowly giving way to their campier side, greatly escalated by the success of the operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist Jon Deacon, and drummer Roger Taylor all had university degrees when they came together in London in ’71.
Their first album, Queen, was their best, an alternately thundering and delicate affair, light on the camp and featuring the group’s two best, if not best-known songs: “Keep Yourself Alive,” and the astonishing “Doing Alright.”
Queen 2 featured similar, if less memorable, qualities, and Sheer Heart Attack was blessed with the blistering “Stone Cold Crazy” and “Brighton Rock,” but while the charming “Killer Queen” was band’s first US hit single, it also pushed them down the path of camp, which led for good or ill to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Somebody to Love’ and the end of the band as a serious force.
News of the World was a brief return to fine rocking form for the band. The medley of “We Will Rock You’ into “We Are the Champions” features a great Freddie Mercury vocal and is a sporting event staple worldwide; “Sheer Heart Attack” and “Fight From the Inside” rock like the band means it on the strength of Brian May’s guitar and Roger Taylor’s vocals and drums.
Even though Queen’s sales rose through the 70’s, peaking in ’80 with The Game, their original, hard-rocking fans had drifted away and the band ended up, unfortunately, and in some ways unfairly, as something of a joke in the US from then on. They remained second only to the Beatles in rock group popularity in England until the end, and they were hugely successful throughout the rest of the world until the group was forced off the stage by Mercury’s death from AIDS in ’91. They have sold more than 130 million records worldwide.