In late June, Queen + Adam Lambert launched their first tour of North America since 2017. They’ll visit 26 cities in the United States and Canada between June 23 and August 5.
Look for the band in Chicago on July 13, Boston on July 25, and New York City on July 28 (Queen will perform at Barclays Center in Brooklyn). Their final date in the New World is set for August 5th in Houston.
The current version of Queen is comprised of just two members of their classic lineup—Brian May and Roger Taylor. Freddie Mercury died in 1991 and bassist John Deacon retired in 1997.
Adam Lambert has been with Queen since 2011. Before that, Paul Rodgers sang lead.
Queen has not released an album since Made in Heaven in 1995. That was created with parts Mercury recorded before he died.
I think even May and Taylor will tell you that the current incarnation of Queen isn’t really Queen without Freddie Mercury. Nonetheless, their music is so memorable, and so powerful, that fans will take what they can get.
May reprising his face-shredding licks on Red Special, and Taylor expertly leading the rhythm section, is still pretty good. Basically, seeing half a great band in concert is better than not seeing one at all. Furthermore, Lambert is an amazing performer and does the material justice.
Regardless of what the remaining members do, Queen’s greatness is not in doubt. In fact, this author extolls their virtues even further. Queen is a legendary band.
What makes Queen legendary? I’ll tell you. Below are seven reasons why Queen deserves a place in the Valhalla of Rock.
Legendary Album Sales
In terms of sales, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Madonna lead the top tier of artists who claim 250 million, or more, in album sales.
Queen is in the next tier with legends like The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston.
Starting with their self-titled opus in 1973, Queen claims to have sold more than 200 million albums. They’ve moved more units than The Eagles, U2, Aerosmith, and the Bee Gees.
Queen released their Greatest Hits compilation in 1981. It went on to sell 25 million copies. It’s the bestselling album in the United Kingdom and one of the bestselling albums of all-time.
Beyond sales figures of 200 million, Queen has also charted 18 number-one albums and 18 number-one singles. Ten of their DVD collections have also gone to the top of the charts.
Queen are members of the Rock and Roll, Grammy, UK Music, and Songwriters Halls of Fame. They were the first band to be inducted into the Songwriters H.O.F.—hitherto, the organization had only inducted individuals.
Three of their songs, “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” have been enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 1990, Queen received the British Phonographic Industry‘s Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award.
To be a legendary rock band you need more than one legendary song. You need several. As alluded to in the previous section, Queen has at least three.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is the second to the last song on A Night at the Opera (1975). It’s the “Good Vibrations” of the 1970s.
“We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” were the first two tracks on their 1977 album, News of the World. They were released on either side of the same single with “We Are the Champions” as the A-side and “We Will Rock You” as the B-side.
You can’t call yourself a rock fan unless A Night at the Opera, Sheer Heart Attack, Jazz, and News of the World are in your music collection. While we’re talking about your tunes, you should probably have Queen II and Day at the Races too.
A Night at the Opera, named after a Marx Brothers film, was Queen’s breakout hit—it was their first platinum album in the United States. At the time, it was the most expensive album ever made.
A Night at the Opera appears in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die as well as several lists and polls chronicling the best, or greatest, albums of all-time.
Legendary Live Band
Freddie Mercury was a born performer. In fact, when he was alive, if aliens landed on Earth and asked to see a rock singer, you’d take the green extraterrestrial to a Queen concert.
In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain applauded the way Mercury embraced the roll of frontman. David Bowie, Georgie Michael, and Robbie Williams have also expressed appreciation for Mercury’s stage prowess, but in less morbid forums.
Let’s not forget May, Taylor, and Deacon. They’re no slouches when it comes to blowing the roof off the place.
During their career, Queen rocked about 700 live performances—the majority coming in the 1970s and many over two hours long.
Queen was renowned for including their fans. In fact, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” were written, in large part, to encourage audience participation.
Every legendary band has a moment. A moment that propels them into the upper atmosphere of rock music.
For Queen, that was their 1985 performance at Live Aid. They only played 20 minutes, but those 20 minutes were the stuff of legend.
During a section of a cappella, Mercury held a note so long, and so well, that the moment became “The Note Heard Round the World.” In 2005, a music industry poll named Queen’s Live Aid performance the best of all-time.
To be a legendary rock band, you can’t keep releasing the same songs over and over again. You need to diversify, take risks, and employ influences from other genres of music.
Queen certainly did that. We’ve already mentioned their rock anthems, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions,” and their iconic incursion into blending rock with opera, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Let’s not forget their rockabilly inspired “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” their funky “Another One Bites the Dust,” and their perfect pop song, “You’re My Best Friend.”
Those are just the hits. The aforementioned A Night at the Opera and Jazz are both known for being eclectic.