Queen formed in 1971 and in 1973 signed their first recording contract for EMI. That year they released their first album, Queen. The same year saw their first major UK tour, and in 1974 they released Queen II as well as making their first UK headlining tour. They made their first US tour, and in November released Sheer Heart Attack which was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
1975 saw their new release, A Night At The Opera, and – significantly – the single Bohemian Rhapsody. The song has regularly featured in all major pop polls and was recently named again as the best single of all time. The success of A Night At The Opera was equally stunning, giving the band their first platinum album.
In 1976 the band released A Day At The Races, and gave a free concert in Hyde Park to an estimated crowd of 200,000 fans. The album was a huge success, advance orders alone amounting to over 500,000. The following year album News of the World which contained "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" was released.
By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world. "Another One Bites the Dust" (1980) became their best-selling single, while their 1981 compilation album Greatest Hits is the best-selling album in the UK and is certified eight times platinum in the US. Their performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert has been ranked among the greatest in rock history by various music publications. The last concert featuring their classic line up–the final live performance of Mercury–took place at Knebworth, England in August 1986. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. May and Taylor have performed under the Queen name with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert as vocalists on tours since.