Today fights against AIDS, the disease which took away his great pal and georgeous musician, Freddie Mercury. Together with his ex-band mate Brian May represents band’s called Queen music in the music industry. Everywhere the two go they are followed by fans from around the world. One could then say Queen is still alive and as Freddie asked – the show goes on, only in a different way that it did before.
Roger Meddows Taylor was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England on 26th July 1949. In 1957 he, his younger sister and their parents moved to Truro, Cornwall. There he joined local choir, at the Truro Cathedral School. After he watched other people play he wanted to play too. He started with ukelele but seemed not to like it that much, so he turned to guitar. And this later allowed him to play guitar in his own band, The Cross. But coming back to roots… At that time he attended Truro Public School. In 1961 again he turned his interests onto another instrument, this time drums. As time showed, this was the instrument he was to play most of his life.
Roger played small local bands, just boys playing for fun, the Bubblingover Boys. He said one day, they couldn’t play after all, but that was fun. After that he joined Johnny Quale and The Reaction and played drums there. But as Johnny left there was no-one to sing and Roger was the only one in the band who could. So the band changed into The Reaction and Roger went on lead vocals.
He was good at school, and probably both, teachers and parents, wanted him to learn sth ‘good’. He then went to London Hospital Medical College and wanted (?) to become a dentist. He stated one day it all was done just to get to London. But he got borred with it soon and after a year changed into biology at North London Polytechnic. Finally, he left with BSc in that subject. Still playing with the band he was looking for sth else. One day a colleague came and told him he saw an advertisment saying someone’s searching for a Mitch Mitchell/ Ginger Baker kind of drummer. Roger didn’t hesitate and contacted Brian May. In 1968, with Arts student Tim Staffell, they formed Smile. They had one single, Earth, and their EP was issued on Mercury Rec in Japan only, years later. This band had Tim on lead vocals so we only hear Roger singing a fragment of April Lady.
The band stopped existing when Tim Staffell introduced Freddie Mercury to Brian May and Roger Taylor. Not exactly at that time, but it was an after-effect of their meeting. Freddie was charismatic enough to say, as legend says, that he knew exactly what the band needed to gain popularity and that was have him on vocals. Funny enough, after all those years we cannot tell he was mistaken.
1970 the band spent time playing local clubs, for friends in London (usually at Imperial College) or in Roger’s hometown Truro. There is another legend there saying when they played in Truro late in the 1970’s the band was called there “Roger Taylor’s…” as he was so well-known there. Even posters showed Roger Taylor was to play in their hometown.
Back in 1970 the band with three members was searching for a fourth one, a bassist. The band was also searching for a new name. Roger wanted it to be Rich Kids, but happily (sorry Rog), Freddie said they were Queen, no doubt. The name seemed strange at the time having sth in common with gay collocations or other strange things but Freddie didn’t care. I do agree, the name was, and still is, majestic.
They played some well-known numbers but also Smile’s numbers and their own compositions. There is a song called Silver Salmon coming from that time I guess, but nobody remembers the bass player’s name. Or at least they do not like to tell. Another Queen legend says John Deacon was Queen’s seventh bassist and that lucky number brought the band luckily the best bassist in the world (just have a listen to “The Game”) but in fact there were only four. He joined in 1971, was calm and because of that seemed strange to the others. They used to call him Deacon John for fun, but they saw his claws when he told them he did not wish to be called that way and also told them to stop at once.
Queen’s first album, called simply Queen and issued on EMI in the UK on 13 July 1973, was the only one to hold Roger Taylor’s name in its entirety – Roger Meddows Taylor. Then he opted out of that family name and became Roger Taylor. That was better in some way and also worse, because we have now a musician, Roger Taylor, drummer of Duran Duran. We also have a writer Roger Taylor. And other Roger Taylors.
On the first album we find only one song written by Roger, and what’s more it is sung by him, Modern Times Rock’n’Roll. Easy in Roger’s way song kept in that style of rock’n’roll which amused Rog at the time (maybe it still does, I don’t know). Roger is supported there by John Anthony (on vocals), Queen’s producer.
Queen’s second album, Queen II (8 March 1974, UK), has Loser In The End credited to Roger. He sings lead vocals and tells listeners story of young boys problems, when he is watched by his mother, when she wants to care about him, when she still takes him for a child – and he desperately wants to be alone, in fact his ma stays alone and has to be the loser in the end. He also co-wrote Stone Cold Crazy.
8 November 1974 (UK) brings another Queen album, Sheer Heart Attack. This is a huge success for Queen, as the song Killer Queen (by Freddie) goes to 2nd position on the UK’s chart. The album also has Roger’s song, as in the 70’s it became a custom for every Queen album to have at least one Rog and Bri song. Tenement Funster tells (literally) story of a young boy living with neighbours in an tenement funster and what he does there and that he’s not liked there.
“You can say that my hair’s a disgrace
Or just buy me an open car
I’ll make the speed of light outta this place”
A Night At The Opera (21 November 1975, UK) shows I’m In Love With My Car, a song which probably became Rog’s most known song. It was put on their big hit Bohemian Rhapsody‘s B-side. Many times the band performed it live (especially in 1978, 1979, 1980 & 1981). In 1997 it got a video. The lyrics say exactly what its title suggests – about what one loves in his/ her car.
“And my hand on your grease gun,
mhmmm, it’s like a disease, son!”
Album A Day At The Races (10 December 1976, UK) provides listners with Roger’s Drowse. Again, easy as Roger likes it. Or maybe I’d rather say ‘rough’ – easy is not a good word. Yes, Rog has a rather rough type of composing songs, but of course it’s not a custom of any kind. All can happen there in what he writes.
For the first time Roger decides he will do solo. His single I Wanna Testify/ Turn On The TV comes to day light on 26 August 1977, before Queen’s new album is released. It doesn’t make it onto the charts but is very expensive these days.
And now’s a time for a change. News Of The World (28 October 1977, UK) and we see Roger credited twice. Song Sheer Heart Attack has Freddie on vocals (anyway, there is a lot of Roger’s voice too, but it’s not lead). It had to be thought to be a bit The Beatleslike song as it ends very odd, just cut (reminding of The Beatles’ song from Abbey Road album). The second Taylor song Fight From The Inside has Roger on lead vocals. Again rough song but full of Taylor’s drums and from what I know, also his bass play. This album for a first and last time has fully Roger’s cover concept.
Jazz is Queen’s seventh album, and comes out in the UK on 10 November 1978. Roger’s Fun It and More Of That Jazz are for Roger’s fans as they have him on vocals and are fully his style. The second song from the two is a separate song but has fragments of all other Jazz songs inside of it. Just a bit like Jazz menu. A great concept. And really husky screaming voice!
Year 1979 brings Taylor’s most disliked album, Live Killers (22 June 1979, UK). Strange, as it seems to have a lot of drum sound. But from what I’ve heard he doesn’t like the way his drums sound there. It is not one particular concert recording, instead songs come from different concerts taking place between January and March 1979 meaning during their European tour. We have a recording of Taylor singing I’m In Love With My Car, but to my sadness the song was always sung without its last part, what a shame! But happily enough the band played this song live! There we find lots of Roger’s backing vocals on Don’t Stop Me Now and his Sheer Heart Attack is also played but sung by Freddie (although Rog does bcv’s). And Brighton Rock, which is Brian’s song, has a Roger drum solo.
New decade starts with new Queen sound. The band uses synths for the first time. Just first sounds of the album The Game (30 June 1980, UK) let listeners know band used synths. We can hear the changes also in Taylor’s compositions, Rock It (Prime Jive) and Coming Soon. The first song is very light and a bit dancy (some call it candy-dandy but I wouldn’t) and the other is screamed by both Freddie and Roger, separately. Generally text is sung by Roger and chorus – by Freddie.
Weren’t it enough changes, Queen decided to make another change. Or maybe it wasn’t a change, it was an attempt at trying sth new, meaning film soundtrack. And that was Flash Gordon, issued on 8 December 1980 in the UK. I should tell you it wasn’t easily Queen’s idea, they were offered to by Mike Hodges. And May was keen on trying this, so all agreeded on that new idea. The film itself is very funny, it has easy effects and looks dandy but I like to watch it. We have here Sam J.Jones as Flash, Ornella Muti as Aura, Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin and Max von Sydov as Ming The Merciless. I must tell you the soundtrack is really good, I like the fact it has fragments from film used in songs. Taylor wrote three numbers on this occasion (In The Space Capsule (The Love Theme), In The Death Cell (Love Theme Reprise) and the best of them – Escape From The Swamp – great timpani!!!) and another one was co-written (Marriage Of Dale And Ming (And Flash Approaching) with May). The whole music to the film was arranged by Howard Blake.
In 1981 Queen had their Greatest Hits album released. It was a huge success and gave them at least eleven times platinum status! Though we have to remember they had a big tour at that time, round South America for instance. And in September they started recording another album.
But I must tell you, sth more interesting happened that year. Roger Taylor prepared his first solo album, called Fun In Space (6 April 1981, UK; 9 April 1981, USA). It is said to have some ideas which Rog had at that time in his mind and which he couldn’t make true with Queen. It means the album’s sort of continuation to Flash Gordon as it is kept in that style somehow (they say). But if you take a deeper look you can find differences, big differences. First of those is that Rog sings there lead vocals. He also plays instruments (although music isn’t much complicated on that album). He uses only few people to help him (according to credits on the album, maybe truth was diifferent, who knows?). So that’s why I like it – completely Roger himself.
There is some truth in what ‘they’ say, but I like it though. A bit nostalgic Future Management (You Don’t Need Nobody Else) I liked at the beginning, but then turned to Let’s Get Crazy, No Violins and started listening to an odd one – Interlude In Constantinople. The last one listed has Rog’s voice put through some kind of voice-modifing machine, which I usually don’t like at all. But it came to my notice Roger likes that kind of machine and likes to use it on his solo songs. Beside that machine voice, we have drums there, which I really like. Let no-one tell you Roger cannot play drums! And after that song comes another which starts with bunch of drum sound, Airheads.
Previously mentioned Future Management was the single from the album (30 March 1981, UK) but made it onto charts with 49. position and even made Roger take part in a popular programme, Top Of The Pops (in Sep 1981). B-side to the single was Laugh Or Cry. He did a few more singles but they made no better on the charts. (See discography for full details). TOTP is a very ‘static’ show, Rog stands in front of public with his guitar singing the song. It doesn’t go live, he just pretends to be singing. Maybe a little shame? But still, good that he had been offered to play.
But leaving all that behind it’s not my favourite Rog. He could do better 🙂 But that will be later on…
The next Queen album, Hot Space (21 May 1982, UK) contained two Roger’s compositions but Action This Day was the last one to have him on lead vocals. 80’s came and there had been a change, no Roger- or Brian-sung songs on Queen albums. Verse in the song is sung by Rog while chorus – by Freddie. Little like it was with Coming Soon from The Game. The second Rog song, Calling All Girls, has Freddie on lead vocals.
Year 1983 and Queen have a half year break from each other. They do rest and May records his solo mini-album, Star Fleet Project, to which he invites Rog and ask him to sing bvc’s in title song, Star Fleet. I’ve heard many Queen fans, or I should say – Brian’s fans – would prefer it not to have anyone from Queen. They think it should be totally solo. But I ask them, is there really that much Roger’s voice that everyone hears it? What would happened if no-one knew he had sung there? No-one would take a notice…(for a full Taylor guest appearances visit guest section).
After some rest the band gained strength to meet again and start working on a new album. From August 1983 to January 1984 they worked on sth they called The Works, which was Roger’s title and released on 27 February 1984 in the UK. Opener for this album is song Radio Ga Ga, Taylor’s composition. Till today it probably stays his best Queen hit. The song is so well-known that it would be hard finding someone who doesn’t know the song. Played by every radiostation, even these days. Played at every concert since then I guess, is still used by Roger today. Everywhere he plays, he sings this song. There were few concerts where he didn’t but that’s almost not to be mentioned. Originally the song has Freddie on vocals. The legend of how this song came true is that his son Felix heard sth on the radio and started singing. What Roger heard from his son was like ‘radio pupu’ which he changed to ” ‘radio ga ga’ and made a hit out of it. Even Roger himself tells that story but who knows how much truth it does in it. Anyway, that’s a nice story… people do not get bored while watching interviews. I know usually Rog is asked either obvious or silly questions so why not making it all up a bit? Just to make it more interesting. How much can one tell about writing Radio Ga Ga?
The album has also a co-written, with May, song Machines (Or Back To Humans). I think fans don’t like that one but I’m not one of them. For me always the question was why Queen used to play Get Down, Make Love – as this is the only Queen song I really… hmmm… hate. It makes me nervous, make my brain confused but in a wrong way. And Machines is full of ‘machines’ music (as it seems) but still Freddie sings there beautifully. There is also one song on The Works, written by John, which Roger sang during his tours – I Want To Break Free. I guess he likes the song, so do I. Catchy one, but very nice.
Also that year, 1984, brought fans another Roger album. Strange Frontier was released on 25 June 1984 in the UK and on 3 July 1984 in the USA. The first single from the album was Man On Fire (4 June 1984, UK) with Killing Time as B-side. Roger’s fans usually prefer Strange Frontier itself which was third single from the album. My opinion is different, Man On Fire is the best from the album. Great that Roger played it live with The Cross and solo. It also has a great video. We see Roger going out of his mind, burning down this crazy town and so on. Really fantastic. To learn more visit my videos and discography section.
In 1985 Queen toured Japan and Europe. At that time they were part of the big Live Aid Concert, played without any rehearsal for 20 minutes and did their best. Audience was thrilled. It is said to be one of their best performances ever.
After preparing in 1985 a song One Vision (written by Queen) for the film Iron Eagle they were offered soundtrack to another film, this time Russel Mulcahy’s Highlander with stars such as Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown and Roxanne Hart. Queen agreeded and Roger composed two songs which made it onto the forthcoming album. A Kind Of Magic was released on 2 June 1986 and had title track written by Roger and his Don’t Lose Your Head. The idea was to name songs after citates from the film. Although both those songs are included in the film’s soundtrack they are in completely different form there. Arrangation of A Kind Of Magic is smoother in the film and on the album it’s more catchy and hit-like. This song is used while showing end credits to the film. The second song, Don’t Lose Your Head is also used, but in the middle of the film, in a part where bad Kurgan drives frightened Brenda a car and plays a game driving against all other cars in the street. But also here we have different version of the song – it is instrumental in the film (and is called A Dozen red Roses for My Darling instead), while on the album it is co-sung by a guest, Joan Armatrading. The European version of the CD of this album was issued in two ways, original and with three more tracks. One of them was longer version of A Kind Of Magic. This song in its original version also became a hit.
Also 1986 Queen issue Live Magic, a one piece live album from their Magic Tour. It contains Roger’s A Kind Of Magic and Radio Ga Ga. After that Freddie says he’s not going to run on stage in his leotard anymore.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when one searches for a change. One wants to try him- or herself at sth. 1987 Roger tried forming a new band. He took his old-time friend, Spike Edney, who played keyboards at Queen’s concerts, and put some notes in newspapers to look for other musicians. Finally he found Clayton Moss (guitar), Peter Noone (bass) and Joshua J. Macrae (drums). The latter stayed, working with him for years, even these days – although as a programmer.
The new band was called The Cross and they signed to Virgin and recorded their first album Shove It (25 January 1988, UK & 13 April 1988, USA). All tracks on this album are written by Roger, but for the last time. We have a guest there – Freddie on vocals of Heaven For Everyone and Brian on guitar on Love Lies Bleeding (She Was A Wicked Wily Waitress). This is probably, or rather I am sure of that, my less liked album of Rog. The best number, Feel The Force, was available only on the American version of the album. There were a few singles from that album and a few videos accompanying the album. But about that read in my discography & videos section.
This album also had one additional track, which was avalible only on European CD edition of the album. This was a mix of Shove It and was called The 2nd Shelf Mix. It isn’t credited, as I remember, but Freddie surely did bvc’s to Shove It, in both versions. We can clearly hear him singing there “yeah”.
During that time The Cross did a tv show for series called Meltdown (on 6 Nov 1987). This was a bunch of The Cross’ songs with Queen’s I’m In Love With My Car, which was being faded out. But despite that, a rare and of course interesting thing to watch.
The Cross started their first tour on Feb 19, 1988 in Leeds. They toured UK, switching to Germany in April, then did one appearance at Montreux Jazz Festival on May 12, 1988 in Switzerland which was their last concert from that tour. But the same year they appeared on Queen’s Fan Club Party in Hammersmith Palais in London on Dec 4.
Next year was Queen’s year, I mean it was time for Queen’s material. At the end of this, Sep to Dec, year he did record sth with The Cross for their forthcoming album.
Queen’s The Miracle was released on 22 May 1989, UK. The recording sessions took part from Jan 1988 to Jan 1989. None of the songs from the album are credited to Rog as the band decided to credit all together (most of songs were made in studios). But we can guess “Breakthru” has most of Rog’s influences 😉 Roger also shouts “Freddie Mercury” in original version of The Invisible Man.
The Cross’ album was called Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know and was released in the UK Mar 26, 1990. The album hadn’t been issued in the USA.
The album is most rockiest of all three The Cross’ albums. Three singles had been issued, which were Power To Love, Liar (with B-side In Charge Of My Heart unavalible elsewhere) and Final Destination. For more info on singles go to discography section and videos section.
The album had one cover song, but only on its CD edition. That was Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady. I guess Roger tried to sing this one in a bit Hendrix style but cannot tell if he succedded (maybe I cannot ‘judge’ his singing as I always love it). The Cross played that song live many times. It is fun to listen to such covers, because there isn’t too much change to the original and still it is sth new and interesting. This time not all is written by Roger. There is a Moss song to which he sings lead vocals, and that’s Better Things.
Tour started May 21, 1990 in Germany. Then the band went to Holland, back to Germany, then Spain, Germany and Austria (last date took place June 15, 1990). The band also gave The Fan Club Party show on Dec 7, 1990 in London at the Astoria Theatre.
After ending the tournee The Cross started recording for a new, third album. This was done after some break of course, so recording sessions took place from February 1991 to August 1991. That year also Queen recorded, as much as they could bring Freddie and as he managed to sing. This time The Cross took someone from outside to produce the album.
Blue Rock seems to be the most thought over album. That can be misleading, but anyway, maybe that’s true? The album was released September 9, 1991. It has ten songs on it, two of them became singles, New Dark Ages and Life Changes. I unfortunately don’t know the exact New Dark Ages release date, but from the tv special I saw I understand it was issued before October. And Life Changes was issued October. I promise to put that tv special interviews there on my site one day. As for now see discography section for more info on the album.
1991 Queen issued their last album, last when Freddie was alive. Innuendo was released on February 4, 1991 (UK). The material for this album was recorded during the period of March 1989 to November 1990. All that have been recorded later appeared on an posthumous album. This is a beautiful album of Queen, nostalgic and also trying to tell to ‘be happy’. It went 1st position in the UK, and got platinum status. And after all that time I can say it was worth it.
After Freddie’s death on 24th November 1991 there had been speculations about what would happen to Queen next. What would the remaining three do? Now, after more than ten years from that time we can tell what they all did, but as they are still around, we cannot tell what happens next. So just after that Roger announced they are going to prepare a Tribute concert, which was to take place on 20th April 1992. And it did. There were many guests, friends and relatives invited, some of them performed, some of them just appeared somewhere without performing anything. There is no record of full concert issued, and that’s a pity. We have VHS edition, we have DVD, and we still lack some performances. But that’s musicians right to cut what they don’t like about their performances. There was no audio release accompanying the concert. Only the Five Live George Michael EP has been issued afterwards, in 1993. And George Michael did best there, unsung hero of the night 😉
Then came all those riots and rumours about Queen’s new album. It was first announced by Roger at MTV News back in 1994, but finally it turned out it was his solo album to come first. And it was his first solo album in ten years! But it was, and still is, damned great!!! There are a lot of memories there I guess, a collaboration (with Japanese rock star, the late Yoshiki – keyboard player and drummer), an anty-nazi song, anty-Murdoch song and a pro-Freddie song. The album is very one style and I like it that way. Surely at least worth a listen! More info on released on September 9, 1994 (UK) Happiness? album.
The year 1995 brought long expected Queen album, Made In Heaven. It was a huge success, and there were some nice surprises, as Roger singing second part of Let Me Live and his Heaven For Everyone completely differently arranged (to The Cross’ version) – which also became a single and got two different videos. The version with Freddie singing was used, so the Freddie line is the same as in The Cross’ version. It also lacks that introduction made by Roger (as is in The Cross’ version).
A big thing happend to Poles back in 1996 (on February 19th, being accurate). On that day Roger Taylor and Brian May did their first visit to Poland (as Queen got a Gold Status for Made In Heaven and a ‘Fryderyk’ Award for the whole Queen’s work!!!
Then in 1997 was that No-One But You song, with John Deacon this time. This was a Brian song but with some changes made – due to Roger 😉 Roger sings the second part of the song and plays percussion.
The next year brought long awaited Roger solo album Electric Fire (28 September 1998, UK). That year he laso gave a Cyberbarn concert (24th Sept) and Shepherds Bush Empire (14th October).
Roger did some interviews and tv appearances, I hope I know it all one day 😉 In 1999 he decided he did tour (one month) the UK. The next year he started his work with Brian May in different areas, doing this till today. Lately, the new formation of QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS happened and they did a tour ’round the world. They did record The Cosmos Rocks together and after the lack of promotion for the issue, the collaboration ceased to exist.
After the Queen + Paul Rodgers era form 2009 Queen + Adam Lambert concerts followed. Q+AL came first time to Poland in 2012, and second time in 2015.
Roger recorded his fifth studio album Fun on Earth, which was issued 11 Nov 2013. The same day a compilation of Roger works had been issued: The Lot. The Lot was issued in the US in 2014 and a best of compilation named Best was issued in the US. US market had also Fun in Space and Strange Frontier reissued in 2015.