Here’s 50 geeky bits of Queen trivia to feast on, starting with Brian May, who despite having played on the roof of Buckingham Palace still suffers from nerves and anxiety. “I go through major crises every few months… I’m a weird kind of animal.”
Freddie Mercury was actually born Farrokh Bulsara, although his passport has him down as ‘Frederick Mercury’.
It was during his studies at St. Peter’s School (a boarding school near Bombay) that Farrokh Bulsara first began calling himself ‘Freddie’.
Freddie designed the Queen crest, using the astrological signs of the four members: two Leos, one Cancer and one Virgo. Despite this, Freddie claimed not to believe in astrology.
Freddie thought up the name Queen. He said: “It’s very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It’s a stromg 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.”
Brian’s guitar is over 200 years old. This is true, in a way. He and his Dad built it from scratch, using the wood from a 200-year-old mantelpiece.
The videos for ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Spread Your Wings’ were both shot in Roger’s backyard.
The song ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ was released as a single twice, in 1973 and 1975. It failed to make the top 40 both times.
The video for ‘I Want To Break Free’, which sees the band doing housework in drag, was Roger’s idea, and inspired by the women of Coronation Street.
Freddie wrote ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ while in the bath. Rumour has it that he had his piano moved to his bathside. Did the piano not get wet? Did his bathwater not get cold?
On its release, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ stayed at the top of the UK singles chart for nine weeks. It is the third best-selling British single of all time, beaten only by Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’ 1997.
The loosely-connected duo of albums ‘A Night At The Opera’ and ‘A Day At The Races’ were both named after silent movies by The Marx Brothers. The follow-up, ‘News Of The World’, was named after Murdoch’s ill-fated rag.
‘A Kind Of Magic’ was the last album that the band toured. It was Freddie’s decision not to tour. At the time, nobody really understood why.
Freddie Mercury died on November 24 1991, from Aids related pneumonia. He had only publicly announced he was suffering from Aids the day before.
According to the Guinness Book Of Records, the Official International Queen Fan Club is the longest running rock group fan club in the world.
The press was a source of tension for the band. As Freddie once remarked: “The others don’t like my interviews. And frankly, I don’t care much for theirs.”
Brian May and Roger Taylor were playing in the band Smile alongside Tim Staffell. But Tim wasn’t so interested, so recommended his flatmate Farrokh Bulsara. Farrokh became known to the world as Freddie Mercury. Smile became known to the world as Queen.
Freddie: “Women are like modern paintings. You can’t enjoy them if you try to understand them.”
For the band’s 1975 world tour, each member wore costumes designed by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.
In 1976, Queen played a free gig at Hyde Park, setting an attendance record with at least 150,000 people in the crowd.
According to Nick Weymouth (who runs the band’s official website), Queen are one of the most bootlegged bands in history.
The band only released ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ as a single because Michael Jackson suggested they do so (after dropping by backstage at their LA show).
Queen’s collaboration with David Bowie on ‘Under Pressure’ wasn’t planned – Bowie just happened to be by the studio while Queen were recording the song.
In 2002, Queen were given the 2,207th star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
On the album sleeve for their debut release, the words ‘No Synthesizers’ were printed, to correct a common mistake people made.
Freddie had wanted to fix his overbite for quite some time, but feared the operation would damage his voice.
Back in 2006, Time Asia named Freddie Mercury as one of the most influential Asian heroes of the past 60 years.
Brian May has a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London. In 2007, he was appointed Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.
Some of the animated footage in their video for ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ was created by animators for the Walt Disney Company.
Queen released a Christmas song in 1984 called ‘Thank God It’s Christmas’ – and it spent six weeks on the Singles Chart, peaking at No. 21.
Mercury had a long-term relationship with Mary Austin. However, their relationship ended when he began having an affair with a male who worked at Elektra Records. Mercury and Austin remained close friends, though. He once said of her: “All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary [Austin], but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary and I don’t want anybody else.”
Upon Paul McCartney’s request, Queen played the opening night of the Concert For The People Of Kampuchea in London in December 1979.
According to Cat Fancy magazine, at one point, Freddie Mercury owned as many as ten cats. His personal assistant Peter Freestone wrote that he “put as much importance on them [his cats] as any human life.”
In fact, Freddie loved his cats so much that he would sometimes call home to talk to them while he was on tour. He also had paintings made of them.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’/’These Are the Days of Our Lives’ was released as a single upon Mercury’s death, and the initial proceeds from the single (nearly £1,000,000) were donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust (a charity relating to HIV/AIDS).
Queen drew a whopping crowd of 250,000 people to their Rock In Rio Festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in January 1985.
On Queen’s first album, John Deacon was credited as Deacon John. Apparently Roger and Freddie thought it sounded more interesting that way. Since Deacon was new to the band, he didn’t question it – although for the band’s second album, he was credited by his real name.
OK, who can name the four tracks that drummer Roger Taylor wrote? No? They were ‘Radio Ga Ga’, ‘A Kind of Magic’, ‘The Invisible Man’, and ‘These Are the Days of Our Lives’.
Freddie Mercury required his assistants to have a pen and paper with them at all times in case he was inspired and needed to jot down some ideas.
The lyrics for Queen’s song ‘Life Is Real’ began while the band were flying over the Atlantic from New York.
The line in ‘Life Is Real’ (“guilt stains on my pillow“) originally began as “cunt stains“, and then “cum stains” – but Mercury’s personal assistant Peter Freestone steered him away from those.
In 1999, Roger Taylor could be seen in the background of a Royal Mail stamp featuring Freddie Mercury. This caused a stir, since the only living people meant to appear on British stamps are members of the Royal Family.
Roger Taylor’s middle name is Meddows. Incidentally, he admitted he “hated the title of the second album, ‘Queen II’, it was so unimaginative.”
In his will, Freddie Mercury is said to have left £500,000 to his chef Joe Fanelli, £500,000 to his personal assistant Peter Freestone and £100,000 to his driver Terry Giddings.
‘Made In Heaven’ was recorded at the end of Mercury’s life. Brian May said of the recording process: “I think our plan was to go in there whenever Freddie felt well enough, just to make as much use of him as much as possible, we basically lived in the studio for a while and when he would call and say ‘I can come in for a few hours’, our plan was to just make as much use of him as we could.”
John Deacon is also a trained electronics engineer, and he sometimes built equipment for the band to use – including the ‘Deacy Amp’.
Instead of using a plectrum to play his guitar, Brian May uses a sixpence coin (one of which was sold on his ‘Back To The Light’ tour in 1970).
Freddie Mercury held the band’s showmanship dear. He once declared: “A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It’s a theatrical event.”
According to Mercury’s friend David Wigg, the star believed his stage image prevented him from keeping relationships. “I created a monster. I’m handicapped because people think I’m like that. When I’m trying to get a relationship together I’m the nicest person you could meet, my dear. I’m a peach,” he told his friend.
Mercury didn’t think he was a very good pianist, and feared playing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ live.