The reign of Queen that has seen two decades of heavy metal ranting, preposterous pomposity, and excess with success, should have come to an end in late November 1991. That was when the bands extravagant and unrepentingly camp lead singer Freddie Mercury lost a long battle with AIDS. As they say in Waynes World - NOT!
But last year saw more activity on the Queen front than the entire mid-eighties period onwards. Ironically it was Queen's biggest year since Mercury made his last concert appearance at Knebworth in August 1986.
Since Freddie's death the Queen machine has been rolling in high gear. The band ended up the big winners of Christmas 1991 with Queen's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 wiping off Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' - an album widely tipped to monopolize the top spot on the world's charts throughout early 1992. At the same time Greatest Hits One (first issued in 1981 and re-issued in 1984) leapt to number 2 in England and Australia.
Bohemian Rhapsody the pop operatic pastiche with the ludicrous "Bismillah... we will not let him go" chorus, first released in October 1975 was re-issued with the sale of proceeds being donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust for Aids Research. The single stormed the charts but more importantly it was featured in the head banging scene of Waynes World and introduced Queen to a whole new generation of CD buying fans.
At the same Brian May issued 'Driven By You', a preview from his solo album that he had been working on for more than five years. In September the excellent Queen sound-alike single 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' was released followed by May's album 'Back To The Light'.
The middle of the year saw the release of a two CD set 'Queen; Live At Wembley 86'. It was the third live LP to be put out by the band (not counting the Queen At The Beeb album of eight tracks recorded for BBC Radio I in 1973, issued in 1989) taken from one of their last live performances before 150,000 people on two nights at London's premier venue. The three remaining members of Queen and a host of superstars including Robert Plant, David Bowie, George Michael, Elton John, Roger Daltrey and Annie Lennox returned to Wembley Stadium in April for the tribute to Freddie Mercury, which had a worldwide TV audience of one billion and will later be released on video.
As for Freddie's voice it was everywhere. Last year's Olympics were dominated by his thunderous duet with opera diva Montserrat Caballe on the rousing aria Barcelona he'd composed for the Olympic celebrations in the Spanish city. Last month saw the release of 'The Freddie Mercury Album' a collection of mainly re-mixed tracks like Foolin Around, Your Kind Of Lover, and Living on My Own (culled from his 1985 solo LP Mr Bad Guy) plus assorted singles such as 'The Great Pretender' and 'Barcelona'. Unfortunately missing from the compilation is Mercury's pre-Queen single 'I Can Lear Music', released in 1973 under the name of Larry Lurex.
If 1992 was a bumper year for Queen then it contrasts sadly with the second half of the 80s after the flamboyant Mercury's decision to keep his illness secret. He plainly had no wish for the public to share in his physical and emotional pain. With Mercury living as a recluse in his $8 million Kensington mansion Queen's recorded output dribbled to a halt. From late 1986 the group released only two albums of original material (The Miracle in 1989 and Innuendo in 1991) compared with their staggering early body of work that averaged an album every 11 months.
Queen were formed in 1971 when Freddie Bulsara a former student from Ealing College of Art, left tie group Wreckage and joined up with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, members of the disbanded group called Smile.
The three musicians placed an ad in Melody Maker and recruited bass player John Deacon. They agreed they wanted "a big heavy emotional wave of sound with strong harmonies and melodies",