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by Oscar van Duijn
During the last days of the year our attention is being drawn again to one of Britain's all time pop legends, Queen. The release of their third Greatest Hits CD and the accompanying re-release of "Under Pressure", the duet with David Bowie, marks a milestone in pop music.
It all started back in 1968 when Bryan May (guitar) and Roger Taylor (drums) together with Tim Staffel teamed up to form a band named SMILE. Tim Staffel introduced his college mate Freddie Bulsara to the group, who immediately became a huge fan. In 1970 SMILE decided to quit since nothing major seemed to happen for them.
Freddie left his band "Wreckage" and joined up with Brian and Roger to start a new band. Freddie changed his name to Mercury, and decided the band's name should be Queen. They only needed a bass player to make their group complete. In 1971 John Deacon was asked to audition and soon became Queen's bass player; the group was now complete.
In 1973, two record companies, Trident and EMI, signed a contract for a recording deal for Queen. In July of that year their first album entitled "Queen" was released. After being a support act they soon released their second album "Queen II" in March 1974. Now they were booming and in 1974 they first toured the UK on their own.
The music of Queen is a mixture of symphony and rock, both expressed in their songs. The best example of this so-called Symphonic Rock is their greatest hit ever, "Bohemian Rhapsody" which is still in the top of every all-time favourite chart around the world. The song is created from pieces of rock music, dictated by guitar and drum, followed in a rapid succession by pieces of pure opera.
Queen dictated the music industry for many years, seeing it through the seventies, eighties and nineties. Who doesn't remember songs like "We Will Rock You", "We Are The Champions", "I Want To Break Free" and "The Show Must Go On"?
But in 1991 the group had to deal with their most serious incident ever. Only the closest friends of Freddie knew that the singer and foreman of Queen was suffering from Aids. On the 23rd of November 1991 Freddie Mercury announced his secret to the world. The day after he peacefully died in his house, surrounded by friends and family. On May 30th of that year, Freddie filmed his final video for Queen, "Days of Our Lives". Right up to the end he insisted on working on new material. As Bryan May put it: "Whenever Freddie felt like it we would be in the recording studio, at a moment's notice."
And now, eight years after his death we still are enjoying his music on Queen+ Greatest Hits III. The album mainly consists of recordings of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert that was held a year after his death on Easter Monday 1992. Queen music performed by the remaining Queen members and guests such as George Michael, Elton John and Guns 'n Roses. The album is completed with solo pieces by John, Roger and Bryan.
A single, the classic duet Queen recorded with David Bowie entitled "Under Pressure", has been released. It became an instant no. 1 when it was released for the first time in 1981 and has since been covered by numerous artists. The 1999 "Rah" version features fresh recording work by Roger, Brian and John and has been especially remixed for this release. The ground-breaking video for "Under Pressure", 1999, brings together for the first time ever Freddie Mercury and David Bowie. Although the two artists never actually appeared on the same stage together performing the song, the advanced video technology makes you believe otherwise.
Queen will never be the same because of the death of Freddie Mercury, one of Britain's best musicians ever. However, the band will continue to amaze new generations of people with their music: the show will go on!