Who Was Roger Taylor?
Roger Taylor was a member of the famed band Queen with lead singer Freddie Mercury, releasing major hits like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Under Pressure." Taylor embarked on a solo career, releasing several albums, and also formed group The Cross. After Mercury's death, he has continued to play with Queen and create new productions.
Early Life and Background
Roger Meddows Taylor was born on July 26, 1949, in the seaport town of King's Lynn, part of England's Norfolk county. During his youth, Taylor developed a passion for multi-instrumentalism, playing the ukulele and guitar before turning to drums. He subsequently played with the Cornwall band the Reaction in the mid-1960s.
Taylor moved to London and studied dentistry and biology for a time, though he would ultimately decide to pursue a career in music. In 1967, he began performing with the rock group Smile, which included guitarist Brian May.
After Smile's lead singer departed, Taylor and May joined with virtuosic singer Freddie Mercury and bassist John Deacon to form Queen. The group carried on to become one of the biggest musical acts in the world, known for innovative musical fusions and theatrical, bombastic productions. The band released more than a dozen albums, including A Night at the Opera (1975) and Jazz (1978), and had hits like "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Will Rock You," "We Are The Champions" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
Writes 'Radio Ga Ga'
All of the band members were songwriters and contributed to the group's canon, with Taylor penning tracks like "A Kind of Magic" and "Radio Ga Ga." (The latter song is what inspired Stefani Germanotta's very famous stage name, Lady Gaga.) Coincidentally, Taylor has worked in rock music as another drummer named Roger Taylor rose to prominence as well, playing with the band Duran Duran.
Solo Singles and Albums
Taylor was the first Queen member to go solo with his 1977 song "I Wanna Testify" and released the albums Fun in Space (1981) and Strange Frontier (1984), further showcasing his songwriting abilities. With Queen's output becoming quieter after the Magic Tour, Taylor formed another band, the Cross, in 1987. With Taylor singing lead and playing rhythm guitar, Cross released three albums, particularly finding an audience in Germany, before disbanding in 1993.
The world lost Mercury to AIDS in 1991, and Queen's surviving members performed a memorial/fundraising concert at Wembley Stadium the following year with a range of guest artists.
Taylor re-started his solo career with the 1994 album Happiness? and had a U.K. hit single with "Nazis 1994," which deplored the rise of neo-Nazism. (It was banned in some outlets due to its lyrics.) Taylor released his next album, Electric Fire, in the summer of 1998.
Promotes HIV/AIDS Awareness
Taylor was also a key player in the creation of the mega-successful London musical We Will Rock You, a futuristic production inspired by the songs and creativity of Queen that opened in May, 2002. And in 2003, Taylor and May, along with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, put together South Africa's 46664 concert, a major musical event inspired by the resiliency of President Nelson Mandela that promoted HIV/AIDS awareness in Africa. Taylor made new musical contributions to the concert and supporting 46664 albums, as well with the tracks "Say It's Not True" and "Invincible Hope."
Taylor has also continued to work with new iterations of Queen, both via albums and live performance. The band released a concert album with George Michael, Five Live, in 1993. In the mid-2000s, Queen played to sold-out crowds in Europe with a new tour featuring Paul Rodgers, the one-time lead singer of rock group Bad Company. And in 2012, Queen played at the Olympics closing ceremony with singer Jessie J in London, England, and embarked on a mini-tour with American Idol finalist Adam Lambert.
Helming The Queen Extravaganza
With Taylor looking for new blood to maintain the band's legacy, he has served as musical director and producer for The Queen Extravaganza, a touring tribute-band production that launched in 2012. The band was selected via an online contest and features both a female and male vocalist, Jennifer Espinoza and Marc Martel.
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