(see ticket give-away details below)
So, you want to start a rock band? The four of you’ve got piano, drums, bass, and lead guitar covered. And you all do vocals…well. All you need is a name. Let’s see…how ‘bout Smile? Yeah, that’s it, Smile. That’s a name that will echo down the corridors of time and everyone will know and remember. Smile.
Sounds a bit on the weird side, eh? Who in their right mind would ever name a rock band Smile?
Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, that’s who. Names sound familiar? They should, and they are because of a fan of theirs, a pianist by the name of Farrokh Bulsara. Brian and Roger played in a band called – wait for it – Smile.
Farrokh was certainly no dummy. He joined the band, and his first order of business was to change its name…and his. Taking his inspiration from the line “Mother Mercury, look what they’ve done to me” in the song My Fairy King, he renamed himself Freddie Mercury. And he came up with a new name for the band, one he thought “…very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It’s a strong name, very universal and immediate.” The name? Queen.
And history proved the band to be everything Freddie felt its name implied.
As music lovers, we tend to make things easy on ourselves and pigeonhole our favorite performers into narrow, easily defined categories. That is one thing no one will ever be able to do with Queen.
Follow the band’s musical progression.
When Queen formed in London in 1971 (John Deacon, replacing Smile bassist Tim Staffell, joined Freddie, Brian, and Roger), it began performing tunes influenced by progressive rock, but the band steadily moved forward into more predictable and marketable songs, adding more diversity and inventive styles into its music.
In 1973 the group launched its debut album named (what else?) Queen, influenced by heavy metal and progressive rock. With 1974 came Queen II (clever titling, what?), that featured lengthy, complicated sections, a fantasy-theme to some lyrics, instrumental genius, and The March of the Black Queen, a six-minute-long marathon with no song structure or chorus.
The members were becoming musicians.
Ragtime, heavy metal, ballads, British music hall, and Caribbean music all found their way into the group’s 1974 Sheer Heart Attack album. Testing the water with these diverse genres, Queen began to move away from its progressive roots toward a more airplay-friendly style. And the cut Killer Queen became the group’s breakthrough hit, rising to number two in the UK and number 12 in the United States.
In 1975 A Night at the Opera carried on the musical experimentation Sheer Heart Attack had begun. One of Freddie Mercury’s compositions even featured a harp and vocal harmonies dubbed over. Another song, Bohemian Rhapsody, became the only single ever to sell a million copies…twice, prompting the group to produce a video to go with the single. A video some have touted to have been the first “true” music video ever produced.
1976 saw Queen recording A Day at the Races; inspired by gospel, the album’s big hit Somebody to Love featured Mercury, May, and Taylor singing on multiple tracks to create the sonic illusion of a 100-voice gospel choir.
The 1977 studio album News of the World featured songs written for live performance, including We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. Doubtless the group couldn’t foresee these two cuts becoming lasting international sports anthems.
1978’s Jazz included the hit singles Fat Bottomed Girls. Another notable track from Jazz, Don’t Stop Me Now, provides another example of the band’s energetic vocal harmonies.
In 1984 The Works featured the successful single Radio Ga Ga, not to be confused with, well, you know…
1986’s A Kind of Magic included another musical breakthrough; Who Wants to Live Forever? featured an orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.
Queen released The Miracle in 1989, which used a pop-rock sound mixed with a few heavy numbers and produced the hit I Want It All.
In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. For the last two albums made while Mercury was still alive, the band credited all songs to Queen, rather than specific members of the group, freeing them of internal conflict and differences.
On Saturday, March 10 in the Schuster Center at 3pm and 8pm, as part of their Rockin’ Orchestra Series, Assistant Conductor Patrick Reynolds and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra present Queen: A Rock and Symphonic Spectacular. With guest artists Music of Queen, a full rock band and stars from the London West End smash hit musical We Will Rock You, the DPO and over 70 performers on stage will perform all of Queen’s classic hits, including the hit singles I mentioned previously.
And keep the hit-making trail Freddie and the boys started blazing 40 years ago alive.
And hotter than ever.
See more details at the Dayton Philharmonic Website
The anticipation for this show was so high that the 3/10 8pm show was SOLD OUT! So, DPO just added a matinee show for 3pm on 3/10… and we have ticket pairs for that show to give away! Starting on Wednesday February 29th, we’ll announce one random winner every day for the following 7 days! All you have to do isthis article and share with your FB friends, and then comment below and name your favorite Queen song. Good luck!
And… Congratulations to our winners – enjoy the show!
Gina Kay Landis