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Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock [Hardcover]

Phil Sutcliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 22 2009

They were renowned for stunning live performances, envied for rumors of their rock ’n’ roll excess, and beloved for their music, occasionally anthemic and always virtuosic. Nearly twenty years after the death of their engaging and supremely talented front man, Queen remains the archetypal larger-than-life rock band, comfortably enthroned among rock royalty. Now, to celebrate the majesty of Queen’s contributions to rock, here’s the first-ever complete illustrated history of the band.

With glorious concert and candid off-stage photography from throughout the band’s career, as well as concert posters, backstage passes, LPs and singles, and other memorabilia from throughout the world, this is the ultimate visual tribute to Queen. More than 500 photos and artifacts are accompanied by contributions from some of today’s top rock journalists from Europe and North America. In addition to a chronological history of the band, there are reviews of all studio albums, notable excerpts from period publications, complete year-by-year tour dates, and a discography, as well as reflections on the band and their music from many of rock’s top performers past and present, including Slash, Tommy Lee, and Billy Squier.

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon combined a dizzying array of influences and genres in creating what would become one of the most compelling catalogs and lasting legacies in rock. Here is the book that dares to match that bombast.

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Guitar Player
“This 288-page tome is overwhelming, overblown, pompous, theatrical, orgiastic, and self-indulgent. In other words, it’s a brilliant tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time. Although it’s an illustrated history, with gorgeous photos from every part of the band’s career and the members’ lives, it contains a tone of great writing to accompany the photographic story. From their humble beginnings as Smile to the world-beating success they would later achieve, Phil Sutcliffe does a great job of chronicling the band’s development and placing them in a historical context as he does so, with tales of the band opening for Hendrix and Pink Floyd, seeing the first Led Zeppelin tour, recording ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ mourning the huge loss of Freddie Mercury, and beyond. The guitar info is spot-on, thanks to a killer contribution form Dave Hunter that goes so far as to detail Dr. Brian May’s pickup selections on several tunes. In addition to the insightful prose of Sutcliffe, a general sprinkling of quotes form May and his eloquent mates makes this book impossible to put down.”

U. The National College Magazine
Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock makes the ideal gift for someone who loves rock and roll. Filled with hundreds of photos, stories, and memories from other rock icons, such as Slash and Tommy Lee, this compendium of rock’s majesty Queen will be a hit with any music lover.”


The “ultimate” book on Queen, arguably the most underrated (in the U.S.) rock and roll band ever, had to be as bombastic and colorful as the band itself. Everything Queen is here: Rare and not-so-rare black and white and color photos, biographical and chart info, detailed discography and tour info, and album-by-album reviews. The book has an obvious fan appeal, but is objective enough to deal with the most delicate issues in Queen’s history intelligently: Paul Rodgers (the former Bad Company frontman who “led” the infamous Queen + Paul Rodgers concoction) ain’t no Freddy Mercury, but the music he did with Brian May and Roger Taylor wasn't as bad as we think; that 1982’s Hot Space, justly vilified when it came out, is now a semi-classic; and how Mercury, unfairly criticized for keeping his illness a secret during his last days, became a champion for AIDS-awareness in death. Most importantly, the book understands why Queen was a great band: Yes, they may have betrayed their own “no synthesizers” mantra when it was convenient to do so, but any band that can play and sing that well, and that can produce so many hits ranging from hard-rock to metal, to silly but instrumentally intricate music-hall and operatic gems, has the right to kill its own rules. A must for Queen fans and latecomers.

Coffee-table books on rock bands usually fall into one of two categories; either they're chock-full of great visuals with very little textual information, or the book looks like the U.S. tax code with a few snapshots thrown in. Thankfully, music journo Sutcliffe got it right both ways with this work, a must-have under the tree for any Queen fans on your list.
Though utilizing mostly previously published interviews, Sutcliffe offers a detailed and comprehensive history of the band from their early days (when three-fourths of the classic lineup was known as Smile) up to their appearance during last season's American Idol finale. In addition, rock scribes and stars alike chime in on the band's albums, music, and impact….The real treat of Queen, though lies in the 500+ photos of the band in action and memorabilia including vintage backstage passes, T-shirts, record sleeves from around the world, and posters. Ironically, many of the tour laminates - designed by Mercury himself - feature scantily clad or nude women, many of them (of course), fat bottomed girls. — Houston Press

From the Inside Flap

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon—they were renowned for electrifying live performances, envied for rumors of rock ’n’ roll excess, and beloved for music that melded an array of genres. To celebrate Queen’s music and accomplishments, here’s the first history befitting this larger-than-life rock band.

Packed with stunning performance and offstage photographs—dozens of them previously unpublished—as well as handbills, posters, backstage passes, tickets, T-shirts, LPs, and singles gathered from around the globe, this is the ultimate visual history for Queen fans everywhere. All told, more than 500 photos and artifacts are accompanied by specially commissioned works from a host of today’s top rock journalists in Europe and North America. A history of the band written by longtime U.K. music writer Phil Sutcliffe spans the pre-Queen years to current work with Paul Rodgers. Complementing this thorough account are reviews of all studio and live albums; complete year-by-year tour dates; an extensive annotated discography; reflections on the band and their music from some of rock’s top performers past and present; and exclusive insights from former crew chief Peter Hince, longtime producer Reinhold Mack, and Mercury collaborator Billy Squier.

Queen created one of the most compelling catalogs and lasting legacies in rock. Little surprise, then, that forty years after their debut, they are enthroned among rock royalty. Here is the book that dares to tackle their towering achievements.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book!! Feb. 14 2010
Must have for any Queen fan especially if you're a relatively new fan which I am and this book taught me so much about the band.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Queen Bible! Oct. 8 2009
By kitjank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been a fan and collector of all things Queen for almost 30 years. I wasn't sure if this book would have much to offer, but as it's about Queen I had to get it. I wasn't dissapointed. This is by far the best book to date (in my opinion) on the band. There are some really great photos in here that even I haven't seen before. Lots of great sidebar stories and quotes from the guys along with tour dates and just about anything else you could want. This was truly a labor of love and this Queen fan is very appreciative. Your collection isn't complete without this book. So buy it and indulge, you be very glad you did!
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tribute to QUEEN Oct. 27 2009
By Asli Guruney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a lovely coffee table book exploring through Queen's career from preQueen college bands to after Freddie's death. The book is full of with magnificent pictures of not only the band but also tons of Queen related material from all over the world. The text has nothing new for me but if you want to get to know about this greatest rock band of all times, this is a pretty cool beginning. If you know everything about the group's history, you'll enjoy the pictures then. Highly recommended.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Run don't walk to get this treasure. Jan. 27 2010
By Elaine C. Crossland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a card carrying Queen fan I was more than pleased to receive my copy and immediately get buried in it. It did not disappoint.The layout is superb,mixing ticket stubs (note the prices!!) with t-shirts from different concerts and quotes from the different members. More information flowing out of this book on Deacon than you would ever believe existed.
It just urges you on. You can put it down and go back to it later. You just don't want to.The running commentaries on different LP's was most enjoyable,with quotes by Freddie, Brian ,John and Roger thrown in at the appropriate moments.
I have never seen so many exotic pictures particularly of Freddie.
Nearing the end there is a wonderful picture of Freddie at Queens' last gig together live at Knebworth. The tapes must exist. How can we get John ,Roger and Brian to hit the studio and do a tribute to Fred on the 20th anniversary of his death? What a present it would be to us all.
Everything else I want to say has been said by those who've written reviews before me. This is simply the best!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, Regal Volume Feb. 17 2010
By Clinton Ervin - Published on Amazon.com
This hefty volume covers the entire history of Queen, nothing's left out. I loved the layout, photos, programs, tour dates, and everything a die-hard fan could ask for in a retrospective. It includes behind the scenes memories of their producer Reinhold Mack, Mick Rock, and many others connected to the band. The author quotes all of the band members' recollections of all important Queen events, both from the time the events occurred and also years later. This seems especially significant regarding Freddie's illness and death. Much of the information revealed here was unknown until recently.

Sutcliffe's exhaustively detailed book includes contemporary reviews of each Queen album, and at the risk of going off on a tangent, I'd like to discuss Jon Bream's review of A Night at the Opera. With apologies to Lou Reed and Elton John, Bream declares, "Queen's A Night at the Opera was the gayest mainstream rock album of the 1970s." He makes this claim based on the never before heard diversity and completely unconventional material. He sums it up, "a gay old time at the opera." However, my take on the record is that it encompasses all four band members' dreams and styles with no thought to boundaries, conventions, or budgets. I don't know what gay has to do with this; any music lover will appreciate the approach and the execution of perhaps the greatest rock record ever. The inclusion of such diverse material as I'm In Love With My Car, The Prophet's Song, You're My Best Friend, and Seaside Rendezvous is mad or genius, and certainly risky. In hindsight, the band knew what it was doing, gay or straight doesn't matter. Bream's review seems more like a backhanded compliment.

Queen was the most progressive, material-diverse band in history. They were constantly forward thinking; their popularity ebbed and flowed, but they never stagnated. Beyond simply pure entertainment, that is their greatest achievement. Here's a magnificent quotation that captures this theme, "Just watching that band morph and change directions over the years was just amazing." - Paul O'Neill, Trans Siberian Orchestra.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great photos, not so great text. Dec 18 2011
By Carmarthen - Published on Amazon.com
This is an illustrated biography. The text is good, there are interviews with people like Slash, Billy Squier and producer Mack, citations by famous artists, discography, analysis of each album by critical experts and other very good things. However, the text is not the purpose of getting this book. Most of it is fairly commn knowledge for a Queen fan, but there are enough information for a person who likes Queen a lot, may even have a lot (of all) of their albums, but never cared about minutia information about artists. There are a lot (I mean a lot) of infomartion of the kind "...as Taylor said in Mojo magazine in 2008...", things like that (which I found awful).

That said, the photos here are stunning. The printing quality, the legends, everything is amazing. This is a very, very good coffe table book.

Unavoidable for Queen fans or even for casual listeners.
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