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Concert Photography: Helge Øverås

Queen

Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Queen's earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works, while continuing to incorporate many diverse and innovative styles into their music. The band have released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Estimates of their album sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million albums, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists.

Throughout the years, no other rock band has conquered the world and the charts like Queen. Starting in the early seventies and throughout the eighties, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon have written hit after hit. From their first number one single, Bohemian Rhapsody, to their stadium anthems, We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions, their music has reigned across the radio airwaves from Great Britain and Europe to the United States and Australia. They have reached audiences in South America (where they were the first rock band to embark on a stadium tour) and in Hungary (where on their Magic Tour, they played to a sell out crowd, while still under the Iron Curtain).

Few bands embodied the pure excess of the '70s like Queen. Embracing the exaggerated pomp of prog-rock and heavy metal, as well as vaudevellian music-hall, the British quartet delved deeply into camp and bombast, creating a huge, mock-operatic sound with layered guitars and overdubbed vocals. Queen's music was a bizarre, yet highly accessible fusion of the macho and the fey. For years, their albums boasted the motto «no synthesizers were used on this record», signaling their allegiance with the legions of post-Led Zeppelin hard rock bands. Vocalist Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) brought an extravagant sense of camp to the band, pushing them towards kitschy humor and pseudo-classical arrangements, as epitomized on their best-known song, «Bohemian Rhapsody». He was one of the most dynamic and charismatic frontmen in rock history, and through his legendary theatrical performances, Queen became one of the most popular bands in the world in the mid-'70s. In England, they remained second only to the Beatles in popularity and collectibility in the '90s.

Because Queen embraced such mass success and adoration, they were scorned by the rock press. Nevertheless, the public continued to buy Queen records, and the band's popularity rarely waned. Even in the late '80s, the group retained a fanatical following except America. In the States, their popularity peaked in the early '80s, just as they finished nearly a decade's worth of extraordinarily popular records. And while those records were never praised, they sold in enormous numbers, and traces of Queen's music could be heard in several generations of hard rock and metal bands in the next two decades, from Metallica to Smashing Pumpkins. With chart success spanning three decades and album sales topping 150 million worldwide, they continue to fascinate fans and music lovers alike. Queen remains one of the most outstanding rock bands of all time.

Queen-concerts I have attended

Links

Queen-logo
Ticket from Queen's concert in Norway on 12.04.1982
Newspaper ad about Queen's concert in Norway, 12.04.1982
Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås
Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås
Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås
Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås
Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås Queen, Drammenshallen, 12.04.1982. Foto: Helge Øverås
Queen, Råsunda stadium, Stockholm, Sweden, 07.06.1986. Photo: Helge Øverås

Quotes

  • Jac Holzman, Elektra Records: «I have seen the future of pop music and it is a band called Queen.»
  • Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin: «There's so few people behind the glamour who really make it as true performers. It's a very strange thoroughbred condition to be a successful musician and still be able to project it with confidence. Freddie had that, and there's not many people who have had it.»
  • Roger Daltrey, The Who: «When we lost Freddie, we not only lost a great personality, a man with a great sense of humour, a true showman, but we lost probably the best. The best virtuoso rock'n'roll singer of all time. He could sing anything in any style. He could change his style from line to line and, God, that's an art. And he was brilliant at it.»
  • Eric Clapton (about Brian May): «There are people these days who can do things on the guitar which are beyond my reach. There's one guy who plays with Queen who can do things I would dream of doing. I sincerely mean that.»
  • Brian May: «Freddie made the last person at the back of the furthest stand in a stadium feel that he was connected. He gave people proof that a man could achieve his dreams – made them feel that through him they were overcoming their own shyness, and becoming the powerful figure of their ambitions. And he lived life to the full. He devoured life. He celebrated every minute. And, like a great comet, he left a luminous trail which will sparkle for many a generation to come.»
  • Dave Grohl, Nirvana/Foo Fighters: «Every band should study Queen and Freddie Mercury at Live Aid in 1985. He controlled Wembley Stadium! If you really feel like that barrier is gone, you become Freddie Mercury. I consider him the greatest frontman of all time.»
  • Dave Grohl, Nirvana/Foo Fighters: «From rap tap to space rock, opera to funk, punk rock to arena rock, there were no boundaries to what Queen could do, or would do, for that matter. Together, Roger Taylor, Brian May, John Deacon and Freddie Mercury created some of the most diverse music in the history of rock and roll. Stylistically, Queen changed more often than most of you people have changed management.»
  • Taylor Hawkins, Foo Fighters: «Queen was my first concert, and every concert since has been a bit of let-down.»
  • Matthew Bellamy, Muse: «The best band in the world is Queen, definitely.»
  • Joe Elliott, Def Leppard: «The biggest band ever!»