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Brian May, lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, wrote the song "We are the Champions," applying his physics background in the recording studio.
Freddie Mercury - Full Biography (44:46)
The story of Queen is an inspiring, sometimes tragic, and honest story of four school friends who conquered the music world, selling an astonishing 300 million records.
Lesley-Ann Jones, author of "Mercury," describes Freddie Mercury's personality both on and off stage, as well as his legacy as a musician and the lead singer of Queen. Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster © 2012.
Born in Zanzibar to Indian parents, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury became a rock legend with songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody." Queen's album sales rival the Beatles, with Mercury's four octave range contributing to the band's success.
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Brian May was born July 19, 1947 in Hampton, England. In 1971, he hit the road with his band, Queen, playing lead guitar on his homemade axe, the "Red Special." In 1973, Queen released their self-titled debut album. In 1977 he wrote the song "We are the Champions," one of band's greatest hits. By 1985, the band was declining in popularity. In 1991, leader singer Freddie Mercury died. In 2005,
"I was thinking, 'What can you give an audience while they are standing there? They can stomp and they can clap and they can sing some kind of chant.' To me it was a united thing. It was an expression of strength."
May and former Queen member Roger Taylor reunited to tour.
Brian Harold May was born on July 19, 1947, in Hampton, Middlesex, England, to parents Ruth and Harold May. An imaginative teen, May, with the help of his father, built his own homemade guitar, dubbed "The Red Special." The guitar, which was made from such makeshift materials such as firewood and played with a six-pence coin for a pick, would later figure prominently in Brian May's musical career.
The young May received his education at the Hampton Grammar School (now the Hampton School). After graduation, he enrolled in the astrophysics program at London Imperial College, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in science.
While at London Imperial College, May formed a rock band called Smile. His passion for music soon trumped his interest in astrophysics. In 1971, May put off pursuing his Ph.D. to hit the road with his band, renaming the group Queen—a name that was to become legendary in the world of rock 'n' roll. Brian May performed as a lead guitarist, vocalist and occasional songwriter. The band's lead vocalist, Freddie Mercury, also played the piano. John Deacon was on bass guitar, while Roger Taylor covered drums and vocals.
In 1973, after signing with EMI Records, Queen released their self-titled debut album, which went gold. With its fresh and unique sound, the group won over fans in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
The year 1974 brought the release of two more successful Queen albums: Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack. The latter was a best-seller, featuring the Top 10 single, "Killer Queen." The following year brought more success for May and the band: Queen had their first No. 1 record in America with A Night at the Opera, featuring two of May's ballads: "39" and "The Prophet's Song." The album also gave birth to one of Queen's best-known hits—the rock-opera song "Bohemian Rhapsody," with May cranking out a trebly solo on his "Red Special." Also that year, Queen began headlining concerts on their world tour.
For Queen's 1977 album, News of the World, May wrote the song "We are the Champions," another of Queen's greatest hits. May applied his knowledge of physics in the recording studio: Using what he knew about sound waves, he created echoes that amplified the stomping and clapping section of the song, creating the illusion that the sounds were coming from a huge crowd of people. With "We are the Champions," May strove to create an anthem that inspired audience participation and unity. The song achieved its desired effect at concerts, as crowd members stomped, chanted and clapped along in synchronicity.
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