by Kateřina Koprnová
The English band Queen was (and still is) perceived as a group of flashy, talented show-offs with catchy riffs and heartfelt lyrics by the public. However, how they actually encouraged generations of listeners not to be afraid of expressing themselves, whether it be through attitudes, deeds, or fashion sense, is a question that certainly has been asked by many, but the execution was not truly brought up. As the main vocalist Freddie Mercury was of Zanzibari descent, his experience of being an outsider was further amplified by the music industry, which comprised a small number of people of color (who were successful) and with the same flamboyant manners Mercury presented. At the same time, in the seventies people of the middle and lower classes were pushed to conform to normality, discouraged from individuality. Therefore, a large portion of people who took a liking to Queen’s music could additionally feel represented by Mercury’s extraordinary behavior added to his foreign origins.
This work will explore said question about the aspects of individuality, and with the help of testimonial claims by both the members of the band and fans, the author will attempt to establish that the influence Queen, and specifically Freddie Mercury, had on all generations is significant to the development of individuals, masses in retrospect and additionally new music artists.
Queen in their beginnings was already an exceptional band with extravagant elements in their music. The singles from the first album Queen suggest that the synthesis of musical genres was not limited to just their most famous album A Night at the Opera, but they operated on the same basis since their start. By combining genres, the band created a wider audience for themselves that could relate to different parts of one song, such an example would be the song “Liar” which has three parts that could be separated – glam rock section, acapella section, and an early hard-rock section. With these elements combined in one song, Queen created an environment for essentially every individual listener to find themselves in.
“I have fun with my clothes onstage. It’s not a concert you’re seeing, it’s a fashion show. I dress to kill, but tastefully”
However, music was not everything for this band; Queen is heavily memorable for their image. Freddie Mercury was initially inspired by rockstars of his time, such as “behaving as if he were Robert Plant” (Graham 5:10–5:13), who is known for wearing provocative clothing on stage. Later, Mercury developed his own style when Queen became a rightful band. He often wore bodysuits – he was most famously seen in his black and white harlequin leotard from 1977 – which was not a typical attire for a rockstar of Queen’s status, but as Queen was already known for their over-the-top look, the fashion was met with acceptance, and, among many other factors, it connected the audience to the singer.
As previously mentioned, in the beginning, Queen was a highly experimental band, both musically and with their onstage personas. It can be seen in their early music videos, for example in “Liar” where the members are dressed in black, glittery clothes with minor details (e.g. Mercury is wearing a rhinestone glove), while the song lasts for over six minutes – usual length of a commercially successful single had to be “just over three minutes of music” (Longdon) – and, for example, uses a heavy reverb effect on drums. As the band grew more notorious, they experimented with genres and looks, but the basis of Queen shows relayed mainly on how Mercury presented his outfits, as one of his most famous quotes shows: “I have fun with my clothes onstage. It’s not a concert you’re seeing, it’s a fashion show. I dress to kill, but tastefully” (Fielder 83). By allowing himself to experiment with clothes, Mercury could feel a sense of security because this was one of the few aspects of his looks he could change (in contrast to his protruding teeth and height) and, therefore, could better connect with the fans on an emotional level.
Fans of Queen tend to attribute their personal growth to Mercury’s stage presence and how he could communicate through his act rather than words (however, as it is obvious from Queen’s performance at Live Aid, Mercury won fans over by being witty in his short dialogues with the audience, too): “Whenever I listen to Queen, I feel a boost of confidence and fearlessness inside me. They’re like my only friend when I can’t reach out to someone. For me Queen, especially Freddie is the symbol of confidence” (The_nerdy_). The same argument was used by Casper Keller Arroo who is an avid Queen fan and saw the band perform at Live Aid (amongst other Queen shows): “Everyone during Queen’s performance realized that this was something very, very exceptional. Something, you know, once in a lifetime event. […] Queen stood out there and carried the audience into the next phase of the concert“ (Arroo 5:49-6:45). The influence Mercury holds over both fans who had the opportunity to see the band live and fans who can only perceive his energy through screens is nondebatable, and both parties would agree that the allure of the strong persona Mercury created for the shows was one of the main factors which drew them in.
“Whenever I listen to Queen, I feel a boost of confidence and fearlessness inside me. They’re like my only friend when I can’t reach out to someone. For me Queen, especially Freddie is the symbol of confidence”.
While Queen obviously connected with their audience and influenced their lives in both emotional perception and physical presentation, the band had an extraordinary impact on generations of musicians while they were active and long after their dismemberment. We can also observe acts that would never be associated with the glittery extraordinaire that Queen is famous for, such as Rob Zombie who produces shock rock and heavy metal, which talks about their first experience with music that was through Queen: “The first real music that I loved as a kid and I got into music really young, I was listening to stuff in kindergarten, it was Alice Cooper, Elton John, Kiss, Queen, those were all acts that I really loved when I was little” (Baltin).
This paper examined how Queen, and their singer Freddie Mercury, influenced whole generations of both ordinary people and famous musicians who listened to their music, and, in addition, how those generations adopted Queen’s image, catchy music, and encouraging lyrics to their self-expression. It is evident that the band was successful not only because of the musical factors but also how they presented – with flashy costumes, crowd engagement, and positive interactions between the members themselves. This article contextualized the topic, why it is important to embrace individuality, and why Queen is discussed in connection to the aforementioned topic. The work puts an emphasis on subjectivity which is presented both by famous musicians and ordinary people. Through exploring this topic, it was established that Queen’s, and particularly Freddie Mercury’s, influence on individuals was an important factor in their expression.
Arroo, Casper Keller. “I Saw Queen At Live Aid – Casper Keller Arroo Tells His Story Of That
Historic Day July 13, 1985.” YouTube, uploaded by James Rundle, 6 December 2018,
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Fielder, Hugh. Queen: A Rhapsody. Flame Tree Publishing, 2019, pp. 83.
Graham, Laura. “Brian May – Talks about Queens 50th, Greatest Hits Lp, F.Mercury & more –
Radio Broadcast 07/07/21.” YouTube, uploaded by Raised By Radio, 20 September
2021, youtu.be/b6q8G76O4Jk. Accessed 30 October 2022.
Lender, Carl. “Queen (15383194666).” Wikimedia Commons, 23 May 2012,
Longdon, Victoria. “Why are pop songs 3 minutes long?” Classic FM, 12 April 2018,
The_nerdy_. Comment on “How did the band influenced you as a person?” Reddit, 30 October
2022, 2:00 p.m.,
www.reddit.com/r/queen/comments/yhdpvg/how_did_the_band_influenced_you_as_a_person/. Accessed 4 December 2022.
Kateřina Koprnová is a student of English and American Studies in the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University, where she centers her focus on topics from Phonetics and Phonology, Irish literature, and the history of English culture from the sixties up. When she does not occupy herself with a study of accents, writing silly love stories, and playing first-person shooters, she concentrates on music in both passive and active form. Her most desired achievement would be to conduct research on the evolution of Irish accents and the connotations tied to them from a historical point of view.