A one-of-a-kind foursome that combined Hard-Rock bombast, singsongy music hall Pop and campy Glam theatricality, Queen rode its unlikely mix of elements to massive worldwide success, reigning as one of the world's most popular bands throughout most of a 20-year career.
Queen formed in London in 1971, when singer Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar) teamed with guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The band's self-titled debut LP arrived two years later, followed by a string of '70s albums — Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, News of the World, Jazz and The Game—that achieved ever-increasing commercial success.
1975's A Night At the Opera was reportedly the most expensive Rock album ever made at the time, but it yielded the ambitious multi-part mini-opera "Bohemian Rhapsody," which became the group's breakthrough hit in America. 1980's The Game brought their biggest U.S. success, spawning diverse hits in the mock-Rockabilly "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and the hard-rocking "Another One Bites the Dust." The following year's Greatest Hits and 1982's Hot Space both included the David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure," which became a worldwide hit.
Queen's popularity in America and Britain began to wane in the '80s, leading the band to spend several years concentrating its touring efforts on Asia, Latin America and Africa, resulting in a large audience in those markets. A powerful performance at Live Aid in 1985 helped to reignite the band's U.K. popularity, although their '80s work failed to find a wide audience in America. By end of the '80s, the band had scaled back its activities amid rumors about Mercury's flagging health. On November 23, 1991, the singer issued an announcement that he had AIDS; he died the following day.
The surviving members reunited for a a memorial concert at London's Wembley Stadium, which featured such guests as David Bowie, Elton John and Guns N' Roses. Although Deacon retired from music afterward, May and Taylor have remained active individually, and temporarily revived the Queen name to record and tour with Free/Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers. Meanwhile, the original band's '70s catalogue remains a cornerstone of Classic Rock.