Few bands embodied the fearless creativity and attitude of 1970s rock like Queen. Embracing the exaggerated pomp of prog rock and heavy metal and the quaintness of vaudevillian music hall in equal measure, the British quartet colored their complex arrangements with camp and bombast, creating a huge,…
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I have a confession to make: I am probably even less a fan of the latest Adam Lambert-Brian May-Roger Taylor new Queen’s adaptation than most everyone seems to be. To me, the “revitalized” version of the classic rock band suffers from an overwhelming cheesy factor and practiced showmanship that ultimately undermines their history, their music and the legacy of Freddie Mercury.
Sure, Lambert seems like the kind of artist who can lead Queen into future sold out performances with a superb range, clarity and tone and a personality that openly embraces Freddie Mercury’s sexuality but this is pretty far from the 1970’s band that I adore for many reasons that are intrinsic to that time period, the music they were actually creating and especially Freddie Mercury.
But what exactly am I talking about? Well, these were the times of epic anthems and bands such as Hotel California (Eagles), Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin), Dust in the Wind (Kansas) , Rocket Man (Elton John), Heroes (David Bowie) , No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley) , Let it Be (The Beatles), Imagine (John Lennon) and yet Queen managed to stay on top releasing a total of 18 number one albums and 17 number one singles with estimated sales ranging from 150 to 300 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling artists in history.
So do you want to talk about musical genius? Besides being considered the best male singer of all time, Freddie Mercury was an accomplished pianist and, as a producer, he encouraged Brian May and Roger Taylor to experiment with more elaborate stages and recording techniques and he also chose the name “Queen” for their band. As a songwriter, he wrote and composed 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits album, including "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Killer Queen," "Somebody to Love,", "Don't Stop Me Now”,"Bicycle Race”, “Play the Game”, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "We Are the Champions” and yet none of these was the most important contribution in Freddie Mercury’s life.
As the first major rock star to die of AIDS, Mercury's death represented a very important event in the history of the disease as it brought not only global awareness but millions for AIDS research ultimately elevating Freddie Mercury to the annals of human -- not just music-- history. For instance, in a 2002 vote to determine who the UK public considers the greatest British people in history, Mercury was ranked 58 in the list of the "100 Greatest Britons".
You wanna pay tribute? Then fine, do a karaoke tour, settle for a grand Broadway finale and I will be the first in line to buy my $200 tickets to listen to a decent Freddie Mercury impersonator and the now grey-haired 60-somethings Brian May and Roger Taylor, after all the show must go on…