👑 Queen Rhapsody¶
One of those bands that can be easy to overlook. They’re the kind of band you take for granted, because you can’t remember a time when they weren’t there - so there’s often a lot that most people don’t know about them.
With that in mind, let’s rock’n’roll !
Shocking though it might be, Freddie Mercury wasn’t the given name of Queen’s frontman. He was actually born into a devout Zoroastrian family to parents from India. His birth name?
He was actually born in Zanzibar but spent a good chunk of his childhood at a private school in India, where he started going by Freddie.
“I’ll always walk around like a Persian popinjay. And no one’s gonna stop me, honey.”
However, he didn’t actually change his last name until around the time that Queen was founded. Luckily, his chosen moniker tends to roll off the tongue a little easier than the one he was born with.
Although their name is one of the most famous in rock history, Queen wasn’t always called Queen.
In their pupal state, when the band consisted of Brian May, Roger Taylor and Tim Staffell, it was actually known as Smile. In 1970, however, Staffell left the group to join another band, the delightfully-named Humpy Bong, and Smile’s remaining members took on one of their fans as lead singer, leading to a name-change in the process.
That fan was one Farrokh Bulsara and their new name was ‘Queen’. Feeling the pressure “Under Pressure” was the result of a winning combination of David Bowie, hard drugs, and failure.
In July 1981, Bowie went into the studio to record backup vocals for a Queen song called
Unable to get that particular song to work and despondent at their lack of success, Queen and Bowie fell into their back-up plan: drinking wine and doing cocaine.
As the evening progressed, something that could generously be referred to as ‘creativity’ began to take hold. Queen and Bowie started messing around with a completely different song, written by Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor and tentatively titled “Feel Like.”
In a burst of creative hedonism, the song metamorphosed into something amazing. The bass line came together, the duet was improvised, and “Under Pressure” as we know it was born.
A kind of science
Brian May might not necessarily be a household name, but you’d struggle to find someone who isn’t familiar with his work. As guitarist for Queen, he wrote “Brighton Rock,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” and “We Will Rock You.” That would be more than enough accomplishments for most people, but, as the years grew on, he just kept on going.
May had dropped out of college back in the ’70s to pursue a career in music. Although that panned out a little more than alright, he nonetheless decided to go back to school over 30 years later to wrap up his doctoral thesis in astrophysics.
Since then, he’s worked with NASA on a number of projects and even has an asteroid named after him.
Queen’s bassist John Deacon has been a lot of things. On Queen’s first album, for example, he was ‘Deacon John’, because the other band members thought it sounded more interesting. He’s also a trained electronics engineer, and without him, Queen wouldn’t sound the way they do.
Deacon was the creator of the legendary Deacy Amp, the sound system that gave Queen their trademark orchestral tones.
It’s a piece of equipment that enthusiasts and engineers spent years trying to replicate, but with limited success.
It wasn’t until 2008, when a group of engineers tore the original machine apart, that they managed to find some semblance of an understanding of its inner workings.
Even more impressively, Deacon created the original Deacy Amp out of pieces he found in the trash.
With all of the glamour, fame and jet-setting hedonism that Queen enjoyed throughout their career, it doesn’t seem like much of a surprise that the band’s story has been turned into a movie.
But it’s been a long road to getting a Queen movie made. The first shot at one was announced in 2010, with Sacha Baron Cohen attached to play Freddie Mercury.
Three years later, and with nothing filmed, Cohen left the project, citing a number of reasons for exiting the film, the most crucial being creative differences with the surviving band members.
Cohen had wanted to make a gritty, adult-oriented look at the life and death of Freddie Mercury, while Brian May and Roger Taylor instead wanted a more family-friendly vibe, with half the movie focused on how Queen had kept going after Mercury’s death.
From there, the project continued to hit further speed bumps, burning through actors and directors before Rami Malek was eventually confirmed as the star and Bryan Singer came in to direct.
After one last controversy, the firing of Singer and his replacement by Dexter Fletcher, Bohemian Rhapsody finally secured a November 2018 release.