The first live album by Queen — released on 22 June 1979 — made the UK top ten on 14 July, peaking that week at No. 3 and officially making them Live Killers. The band’s already famous reputation as one of the world’s greatest live rock bands was finally on record for all to hear.
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Live Killers debuted at No. 22 on the 7 July UK chart, rising to No. 3 a week later. On the Billboard 200 that week, it raced 98-35, peaking a few weeks later at No. 16. The album went gold in the UK, Germany and other European countries, and was eventually certified double platinum in the US.
The live record was recorded in the first three months of 1979, while Queen were on tour to support the Jazz album, released the previous November. Many of the recordings come from the German leg of the tour, in cities including Cologne and Munich.
“Live albums are inescapable”
In John Tobler and Stuart Grundy’s book The Guitar Greats, published in 1983, the band’s guitar virtuoso Brian May spoke candidly about the Live Killers album, and concert recordings in general. “Live albums are inescapable, really,” he mused. “Everyone tells you you have to do them, and when you do, you find that they’re very often not of mass appeal, and in the absence of a fluke condition, you sell your live album to the converted, the people who already know your stuff and come to the concerts.
“So if you add up the number of people who’ve seen you over the last few years, that’s very roughly the number who’ll buy your live album, unless you have a hit single on it, which we didn’t – maybe we chose the wrong one, which was ‘Love Of My Life’ in England and America.” That track was indeed one of their lowest-charting, peaking at No. 63 in the UK — but within three months, it would be succeeded by a huge hit in ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’