Queen 1974-76 Reign
Queen formed in 1971 and in 1973 signed their first recording contract for EMI. That year they released their first album, QUEEN. The same year saw their first major UK tour, and in 1974 they released QUEEN II as well as making their first UK headlining tour. They made their first US tour, and in November released SHEER HEART ATTACK which was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
1975 saw their new release, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, and – significantly – the single Bohemian Rhapsody. At 5’ 55” it should have been too long for successful radio play but it became one of the greatest singles of all time, staying at No. 1 in the UK chart for nine weeks. The video, directed by Bruce Gowers, is credited with being the first genuine promotional video. The song has regularly featured in all major pop polls and was recently named again as the best single of all time. The success of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA was equally stunning, giving the band their first platinum album.
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After the band's six-night stand at New York's Uris Theatre in May 1974, Sheer Heart Attack reached number two in the United Kingdom, sold well throughout Europe, and went gold in the United States. It gave the band their first real experience of international success, and was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.The album experimented with a variety of musical genres, including British music hall, heavy metal, ballads, ragtime, and Caribbean. At this point, Queen started to move away from the progressive tendencies of their first two releases into a more radio-friendly, song-orientated style. Sheer Heart Attack introduced new sound and melody patterns that would be refined on their next album, A Night at the Opera.
The single "Killer Queen" from Sheer Heart Attack reached number two on the British charts, and became their first US hit, reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It combines camp, vaudeville, and British music hall with May's guitar virtuosity. The album's second single, "Now I'm Here", a more traditional hard rock composition, was a number eleven hit in Britain, while the high speed rocker "Stone Cold Crazy" featuring May's uptempo riffs is a precursor to speed metal. In recent years, the album has received acclaim from music publications: In 2006, Classic Rock ranked it number 28 in "The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever", and in 2007, Mojo ranked it No.88 in "The 100 Records That Changed the World". It is also the second of three Queen albums to feature in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
In 1975, the band left for a world tour with each member in Zandra Rhodes-created costumes and accompanied with banks of lights and effects. They toured the US as headliners, and played in Canada for the first time.
The album was very successful in Britain, and went triple platinum in the United States. The British public voted it the 13th greatest album of all time in a 2004 Channel 4 poll. It has also ranked highly in international polls; in a worldwide Guinness poll, it was voted the 19th greatest of all time, while an ABC poll saw the Australian public vote it the 28th greatest of all time. A Night at the Opera has frequently appeared in "greatest albums" lists reflecting the opinions of critics. Among other accolades, it was ranked number 16 in Q Magazine's "The 50 Best British Albums Ever" in 2004, and number 11 in Rolling Stone's "The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time" as featured in their Mexican edition in 2004. It was also placed at No. 230 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2003.
The album also featured the hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody", which was number one in the UK for nine weeks. It is the third-best-selling single of all time in the UK, surpassed only by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", and is the best-selling commercial single in the UK. It also reached number nine in the United States (a 1992 re-release reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks). It is the only single ever to sell a million copies on two separate occasions, and became the Christmas number one twice in the UK, the only single ever to do so. "Bohemian Rhapsody" has been voted numerous times the greatest song of all time. The band's A Night at the Opera Tour began in November 1975, and covered Europe, the United States, Japan, and Australia.