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Operatic, campy, bombastic and kitschy, British band Queen more or less personified excess during their entire career, during which they were roundly scorned by critics and beloved by millions of fans around the world. Aside from prodigious levels of overproduction, their main distinguishing feature was their charismatic, Zanzibar-born frontman Freddie Mercury, whose soaring, stadium-filling voice and generally outrageous demeanor are legendary to this day. Beginning in 1975 with "Bohemian Rhapsody," a six-minute single off their album A Night at the Opera, which topped the British charts for nine weeks and spawned one of the first rock videos, Queen enjoyed enormous popularity in England and in the U.S. for the rest of the '70s, despite (or because of) their propensity for such media stunts as staging an all-female nude bicycle race to publicize 1978's Jazz (which included the single "Fat Bottomed Girls/Bicycle Race"). Mercury's epic tenor, belting out such anthems as "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" still blares over sporting events around the world. When their popularity in the U.S. waned in the '80s, Queen cultivated a more global audience and won a huge fan base in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Following Mercury's death from AIDS in 1991, the band dissolved -- though "Bohemian Rhapsody" was to become a hit all over again when it appeared in the soundtrack to the Mike Myers movie "Wayne's World." Queen were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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Saturday, Dec 20, 2014
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