A not-so-brief documentary about the band Queen. Produced and written by Matt Beat. Check out @Queen Official 's music:
My other channel: @Mr. Beat
Queen Unseen: My Life with the Greatest Rock Band of the 20th Century by Peter Hince
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Queen: The Early Years by Mark Hodkinson
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Creative commons credits:
Imperial College, London 1968
Brian May and Tim Staffell, two long-time friends and students at the college who had previously played in a band together, decide to start a new band. May would play guitar and Staffeel would play bass and sing. They placed an ad for a “Mitch Mitchell/Ginger Baker type” drummer, and another Imperial College student named Roger Taylor auditioned and got the job. They named the band Smile, and soon began playing gigs all over town.
Soon, they caught the attention of the American record label Mercury Records, who signed them in 1969. They recorded three songs at Trident Studios in June. Meanwhile, Staffell’s friend Freddie Bulsara, who had been in various bands, had probably become Smile’s biggest fan. He was at all their shows, and kind of like an unofficial fourth member. However, Staffell didn’t like the direction Smile was going, and left the band to form a new one called Humpy Bong. Brian May and Roger Taylor still wanted to perform their songs, but they needed a new lead singer. Enter Freddie Bulsara, who enthusiastically took Staffell’s spot. Bulsara convinced them to change the band’s name to Queen. The next year, he would change his own name to Freddie Mercury.
Freddie sang beautifully, but wasn’t big on playing instruments, so Queen would need a bassist. The band went through three before John Deacon ended up joining the band, who not only excelled at bass but also at tinkering around with electronics. After that, Queen practiced relentlessly. As a four piece, they played their first show on July 2, 1971 at Surrey College. By that point, they had already recorded a four-song demo but had no luck attracting record labels with it.
Using his graphic design skills, Mercury designed a logo for the band based on the zodiac signs of its members. Those two lions represent Deacon and Taylor, both Leo, the crab represents May, who is Cancer, and the two fairies represent Mercury, who was Virgo.
In 1972, the band got their first break thanks to producers John Anthony and Roy Thomas Baker. They got them a management deal under Neptune Productions to try to help them get a record label. One of the biggest perks was access to Trident studios, one of the best recording studios in the world at the time. The band got lots of quality time learning how to produce magnificent recordings in those studios and recorded quite a few songs with Anthony and Baker.
The next year, Nepute Productions got them a contract with both Trident and EMI Records. On July 13, 1973, EMI released Queen’s self-titled debut studio album. Elektra Records released it in the United States. It was a mix of heavy metal and progressive rock, and the few critics who reviewed it generally loved it. However, the lead single, “Keep Yourself Alive,” didn’t do well, and the album failed to get much mainstream success. In November, Queen went on their first major tour to support the band Mott the Hoople.
After that tour, the band went right back to Trident Studios to finish recording songs for their second studio album. EMI and Elektra both released those songs as the album Queen II on March 8, 1974. The album ultimately also didn’t do that well, but the cover of the album first featured this iconic picture of the band, taken by Mick Rock. Also, the album featured the band’s first true hit song in the UK, “Seven Seas of Rhye.” Why was the song a hit? Well mostly because back in February the band appeared on the popular BBC program Top of the Pops after David Bowie had to cancel. Yep, they were a last-minute replacement.
To promote Queen II, the band went on their first-ever headlining tour of the United Kingdom. In April, they went on their first-ever tour in the United States. With their third album, Sheer Heart Attack, they entered the mainstream.
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