Okay, raise your hand if you actually thought I'd choose any other group for the letter Q? I'm not seeing any hands, people...
Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon will always rule the letter Q in any countdown I author. The four met during their college years. All of them had dabbled in music and had experience with other bands. After graduation, they got serious about music. EMI Records and Elektra Records signed the band and their debut album, Queen, came out in 1973. Queen II followed in 1974 with more of the same.
Their third album, also released in 1974, totally hooked me. Sheer Heart Attack included the hit "Killer Queen." The tight harmonies reminded me of groups made up of siblings when I first heard it. Brian May's guitar riff, Freddie's vocal lead, the varied tempos and bridge...I'm swooning... What could be better?
Oh, yeah: the next album, A Night at the Opera. No discussion of Queen can fail to mention "Bohemian Rhapsody." I remember reading somewhere that it took three weeks to record. Time well spent, gentlemen. Like most rock groups, their albums layered guitar, drums, bass and piano - but they didn't stop there. The vocal dubbing and over dubbing combined their impressive musicianship with youthful hubris. They were good and they knew it. Soon, everyone knew it. Queen's popularity never really waivered.
If you have never seen a live show by Queen, get thee to a video. Queen made rock and roll strut; they gave a real show. From their mock-opera "Bohemian Rhapsody" to the ever amusing theatrics of Mercury on stage, Queen managed to create a live performance that was in a class by itself. The musical dichotomy of seriously good musicians who never seemed to take themselves serious just endeared them to fans.
Things would get serious, though. Just twenty-four hours after announcing his struggle with AIDS, Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991.
As Freddie would say, "Who wants to live forever?"
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