Added on 05-Mar-2006
Sunday, March 5, 2006
Queen finds their singer in Paul Rodgers
The ex-Bad Company star ‘just clicked,’ says Roger TaylorScott McLennan
It’s funny to look back on it and think, ‘We did this and we did that.’ When you’re doing something, you don’t really know what’s happening at the time.
Queen and Paul Rodgers
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: DCU Center, 50 Foster St., Worcester
How much: $99, $79, $59 and $39
To get Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor back on the road for their first tour together since 1986, the pair knew it had to find someone who could sing a repertoire jammed with radio anthems, tender ballads and novelty hits yet not sound like a thin imitation of original frontman Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991.
Enter Paul Rodgers, the blues-imbued, well-preserved singer for such powerhouse bands as Free, Bad Company and The Firm, who in some regards can seem like a polar opposite of the theatrical, flamboyant Mercury.
“The strange irony here is that I remember when Freddie tried to sing like Paul when were starting out,” Taylor said during a recent interview.
Taylor, who is Queen’s drummer, and May, the band’s lead guitar player, crossed paths with Rodgers in 2004, first when the singer joined the two for a performance at Queen’s induction into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame and later at an all-star concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar.
“It just clicked,” Taylor said. And that was enough of a spark to ignite long-smoldering desires within Taylor and May to resurrect a classic canon of arena-shaking tunes.
Queen and Rodgers spent much of their performance time last year in Europe. The band’s first full U.S. tour arrives for its only New England date on Friday at the DCU Center in Worcester. Bass player Danny Miranda, guitar and keyboard player Jamie Moses (From May’s solo group), and keyboard player Spike Edney (a longtime auxiliary member of Queen) round out the lineup of the band.
“I missed the whole performance thing,” Taylor said. “We enjoyed playing live more than making records. We thought of ourselves as live artists first, so this is fantastic to be able to do it again.”
Original Queen bass player John Deacon bowed out of the reunion. Taylor said that after Mercury’s death, Deacon “hung up his bass.”
“He was devastated by Freddie’s death,” Taylor said. “He wrote us a letter saying he was supportive of what Brian and I were doing. He also wrote, ‘P.S. Send royalty checks to the following address.’ ”
Queen and Paul Rodgers recorded a concert this new fusion gave last year in England, and released the results on CD and DVD as “Return of the Champions.” The set weaves together Queen’s memorable hits with some of the songs that Rodgers made popular in Bad Company and Free. It’s a pattern that Taylor said Queen will likewise employ along its U.S. tour.
“We’ll probably work on playing more Bad Company songs since that band was more popular in the U.S. than Free was. In the U.K., the Free songs are better known,” Taylor said.
But aside from Rodgers getting to strut his stuff, one suspects that the ticket buyers are more anxiously awaiting the arrival of such fare as “We Are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the one song that Taylor thought for sure would be a flop when originally released in 1980, “Another One Bites the Dust.”
“I never thought that would be a single, much less a hit. I was happily wrong,” Taylor said. “And there were some songs that I figured would be big and went nowhere.”
The Queen catalog is so diverse that it contains songs with varying degrees of appeal depending on the country tuning in.
“Different countries have adopted different anthems. In Brazil, for example, ‘Love of My Life’ is one of our most popular songs,” he said.
Queen took shape when May and Taylor met in 1968, and the lineup solidified as Mercury joined in 1970 and Deacon a year later. The band’s first album arrived in 1973 and deposited the staple “Keep Yours