Queen went on to release their third album, “Sheer Heart Attack”, which featured the well-known masterpiece, ‘Killer Queen’. The song was written by Freddie, and the album received high praise from critics, both in the UK and the United States.
Surprisingly enough, the band didn’t make nearly as much profit as they’d thought, with their newfound fame and glory. They found themselves still very much in debt. They discovered the production company they’d been working with had been robbing them blind, and Queen decided they weren’t going to take this anymore. Bravo!
Their first album didn't sell
Queen recorded its first album in 1973, titled “Queen”. The band was ecstatic, it was the first time they’d recorded an album and couldn’t wait to see how audiences reacted to this new sound. Unfortunately, not many people bought their records, since Queen wasn’t such a popular, mainstream band yet.
Their second album, however, was an entirely different story. The band released their second album, “Queen II”, in March of 1974. But this time, they’d had the chance to broadcast their music on TV a month before, on a TV show called “Lost Top of the Pops”. Their media exposure helped propel their album sales, and Queen started to enjoy commercial success on a grand scale for the first time.
Queen became famous by playing an opening act
Later on that year, on May 1974, Queen caught their big break by being asked to do the opening act for an English band called Mott the Hoople, which already had a big following in the UK at the time. Mott the Hoople had listened to Queen and liked their sound so much, that they asked them to be their opening act in a concert they had in the US, making this the first time that Queen would perform in front of an American audience.
Unfortunately, the band had to return home before the tour was over, after their guitarist, Brian May, woke up very ill one day with Hepatitis B. The illness was so acute that it almost caused May to lose his arm, but fortunately this wasn’t necessary and he recovered. Can you imagine if they’d amputated Queen guitarist’s arm?!
High expectations for "The Night at the Opera"
Queen decided it was time for new management. And they went for none other than John Reid, which was also Elton John’s manager at the time. It was a match made in heaven. Reid recognized Queen’s talent, and they went on to have a very fruitful professional relationship from there on out.
Queen was set to release a new album, “A Night at the Opera”, and they had a lot invested in its success, since they desperately needed a significant income. They knew that if this album didn’t make it big, they would most possibly would have had to dissolve the band and go their separate ways. Of course, fortunately, this didn’t happen.
Elton John said “Bohemian Rhapsody” wouldn't be a hit
“Bohemian Rhapsody” became one of Queen’s musical masterpieces. But no one could have predicted this at the time. In fact, very few people know that when Reid showed the finished track to Elton John, he said “Are you mad?!” He was referring to the fact that the song was over six minutes long! Not a good recipe for a hit single, since mainstream tunes at the time rarely went over the 3 minute mark.
But Freddie wouldn’t budge. When producers asked him to make the song shorter, he simply refused. He had created “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a vision in mind - to create a rock and roll opera, the first of its kind. Turns out the audience knew how to appreciate it, and the producers couldn’t have been more wrong. The song became number one on the music charts in the UK, where it stayed for nine weeks straight.