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Montreux Celebration

Queen Biography


Queen - a brief history

Back in 1968, Brian May and Tim Staffell, both students at Imperial College, London, decided to form a rock band.

Brian placed an ad on the college notice board to try to find a "Ginger Baker" sounding drummer, (from the rock band "Cream" with Jack Bruce bass, Eric Clapton guitar and Ginger Baker drums).

A young medical student named Roger Taylor auditioned and got the job.

They called the band "SMILE".

"Smile" was signed to Mercury Records in 1969 and they got their first recording experience at Trident Studios that same year. Tim Staffell was at the Ealing College of Art with Freddie Bulsara and introduced him to the band. Freddie quickly became a passionate fan of the group.

Unfortunately (or luckily) in 1970, "Smile" decided to call it a day because nothing seemed to be going well for them. Tim left and joined a band called "Humpy Bong", and Freddie left his band "Wreckage" to join Brian and Roger. While Freddie and Roger were busy at the Kensington Market stalls, Brian was still working on his thesis.

Frequently, Freddie and Roger were seen as two young cocks on the Kensington High Street, always on the lookout for a record company representative or fellow musicians!

Freddie suggested the name "Queen". Despite initial hesitation, it was obvious that it was a short name, easy to remember, with royal connotations, even theatrical, dynamic too, full of possibilities… despite its "gay" sound - all accepted the name to become their band name.

And in April 1970, the three guys gave life to "QUEEN" !!!

June 27th 1970, the first Queen gig took place in Truro's City Hall, Cornwall, on the occasion of a charity sale for the benefit of the Red Cross.

Then Freddie decided that Bulsara was not a suitable name for someone who will become very famous, and he changed his name to Mercury, the mythical messenger of the Gods!

Queen gave numerous performances, with different bass players, some at Imperial College, then one at the Swiss Cottage in London, September 18th 1970, which was a very sad day : Jimi Hendrix sadly died.

In tribute to the death of this huge guitarist, Freddie and Roger dropped the curtain of their booth at the Kensington Market and, in the evening, the band played "Voodoo Child".

At that moment, Freddie, like the others, got tired of sharing the apartments of his friends. He found a home they shared in Shepherd's Bush. A very spacious apartment which included ... a grand piano!

Shortly after, on October 16th 1970, Queen played at the College of Estate Management in Kensington.

Other gigs were organized by Ken Testi, ex-manager-roadie of another previous band of Freddie’s, Ibex. These included concerts in London and its suburbs, but also at Merseyside in St Helens, Liverpool, including a gig at the famous Cavern Club, where four other guys had proved what they were capable a few years before (....)

Finally joined in 1971 by bassist John Deacon, they worked on and released in 1973 a first album of the same name as the band, "Queen I".

Then thanks to "Queen II", being released the following year, the band started to make a sensation in England, with live shows bolstering their reputation..

Queen then recorded "Sheer Heart Attack" in 1974, followed by the ambitious and costly "A Night At The Opera" album in 1975. The single "Bohemian Rhapsody" spent nine weeks at the top of the UK charts and entered the American Top Ten.

They became superstars and the members followed their success with "A Day At The Races". They stayed for five years in the charts with different albums including "News of The World" and "Jazz". At the top of the world, in 1980, Queen recorded "The Game" which reached the top of the US rankings. World wide Live tours continued in support of the record successes.

In 1981, they worked with David Bowie in Montreux and "Under Pressure" was born.

The single was highly successful all over Europe. This was followed by the album "Hot Space" (1982) then "The Works" (1984), although these proved to be less popular in parts of the world.

In 1986, Queen found more success in Europe with "A Kind of Magic", after their Live Aid triumph they held their biggest ever stadium tour. Knebworth proved to be their last live performance with Freddie.

For much of 1987, the band had been apart working on individual projects. Brian had produced songs for various artists, Roger had formed a new part-time band called The Cross, and Freddie had recorded the Barcelona album with Spanish opera star Montserrat Caballé, partly here in Montreux.

By the time the band met up again at Mountain Studios, there was a new energy amongst the group to create something special. There was so much enthusiasm that many more tracks were recorded for "The Miracle" than were actually needed !!! Some of these were used as B-sides on singles, and others have simply remained in the band's archives, unheard and unreleased.

"The Miracle" (1989) is the first Queen album where all the songs were credited to the band collectively. It was a decision that was clearly reflected in the striking album cover, conceived by Queen and designed by Richard Gray using Quantel Paintbox, reinforcing the singularity of the band with the morphing of the four faces.

Brian mentioned : "we left our egos outside the studio door and worked together as a real band, something that wasn't always the case with Queen".

For the first time Queen did not go on tour after the release of "The Miracle". Freddie's health was deteriorating and the band decided to go straight back into the studio to record "Innuendo" (1991). Innuendo was to be the last album Freddie Mercury would hear completed. Despite his poor health, Innuendo contains some of his most powerful and emotive vocal performances. Freddie's health determined the structure and content of the recording sessions, with regular and prolonged breaks between intensive periods of work.

There were some rumours in the press about Freddie Mercury's health and, on November 24th 1991, the charismatic singer died of AIDS related illnesses in London after having spent some time in his apartment in Montreux.

In 1994, the remaining members got together to finalize the recording of "Made in Heaven" with recordings of Freddie Mercury made at Mountain Studios just before his death. This was released in 1995, it is seen as the last official “Queen” record truly involving Freddie.

Bohemian Rhapsody

In 2018, the long-awaited biographical movie Bohemian Rhapsody recounts in a romantic way the journey of Freddie Mercury and Queen since the band's creation until the concert of Live Aid in 1985.

Rami Malek takes the role of Mercury and receives the best actor award at the 76th Golden Globes for his performance.

The film becomes the most profitable musical biopic of all time with more than $ 775 million in revenue worldwide, and in the United States with $ 199 million.

Montreux Celebration is supporting the Mercury Phoenix Trust who is fighting HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Please visit their website for more informations.

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