Biography > Queen Biography for 1970

Last updated: August 27, 2009
Smile eventually disintegrates with Tim Staffell leaving and joining another band called “Humpy Bong”, who appear on Top of the Pops - once. Things hadn't been moving fast enough for his liking.

Freddie who always thought the band had the basis of what he wanted to do, leaves wreckage to go and join Brian and Roger.  It seemed obvious to all of them to get together.

In 1970 Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May and Mike Grose perform as QUEEN. The name was Freddie's idea and originally Roger, and particularly Brian didn't like it. But, the name "stuck" in their heads, and they kept coming back to it.  Subsequently, they were slowly persuaded that it was the right name for them...

Years ago I thought up the name Queen... It's just a name, but it's very regal, and it sounds splendid. It's a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.

Freddie Mercury

Other names that the band had discussed was the "Grand Dance" - derived from a C.S. Lewis Trilogy of books "Out Of A Silent Planet" that Roger and Brian had both read. Roger also quite liked the name "The Rich Kids".  It is fortunate they went with the name Queen...

Mike Grose was an old friend of Roger's who had played in "Reaction" and PJ's club in Truro. Mike also owned a Volkswagon van as well as a huge Marshall amp. Characteristics that made him seem ideal. 

Queen spent a great deal of time rehearsing. Brian was highly respected at Imperial College and as such they were allowed to use empty lecture theatres for their rehearsals. They rehearsed some cover songs, but Freddie and Brian managed to salvage some of their songs from the Ibex, Smile and Wreckage - so there were quite a few original numbers as well.

Back in Truro Roger's mother was organising a Red Cross charity event in Truro City hall. Roger had previously agreed that Smile would play at the event. Smile though was now defunct, but Roger, not wanting to let his mother down, took Queen.

Saturday 27th of June became the date of Queen's first public appearance. They opened with a reworked Wreckage numbers called "Stone Cold Crazy". The concert went quite well considering that it was their first one. They even got paid fifty pounds, quite a large sum of money back in 1970!

Around this time Freddie changed his last name from Bulsara to Mercury. Freddie felt that the last name of Bulsara was not befitting that of a star - which is what he was going to be. He chose Mercury after the mythical messenger of the gods. I guess Freddie believed he had something to tell us...

Queen then began to play a number of gigs, typically to groups made up mainly of people they know. One of them is in a lecture theatre at Imperial College to an number of invited guests - mainly friends of the band. On the 25th of July they play PJ's in Truro. This was Mike's last gig, as he felt that the time had come for him to get a "proper job".

Queen hurriedly look around for another bass player. Roger recommended Barry Mitchell, a friend of a friends, and an audition was arranged. All goes well and he becomes Queen's next bass player. They rehearsed religiously and perform a few gigs.

Even at this early stage their costumes are quite elaborate - and for a small band they had a lot of lights. They were certainly going against the what most musical acts of the time were doing, as most of the bands just trundled on stage in jeans and a t-shirt, played and left the stage. Queen was different though - they wanted to give the audience a real show.

On the 18th of December Jimi Hendrix, a hero to all the band died. In showing their respect, they play Voodoo Chile at that nights rehearsal.

 

Freddie in particular was a manic Hendrix fan. I remember him going on and on about him. Then I saw him at one of Brian Epstein’s shows where he supported The Who and I remember thinking this guy is so far in advance of everyone else. It was like he was on the same road that we were, but he was almost out of sight. It was frightening and a bit upsetting for us other guitarists.

Brian