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Queen Make Their US Live Debut

In the band’s fast-moving 1974, their UK chart success on single and album was followed by a first step onto a US stage.

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It was full speed ahead for Queen in the early spring of 1974. In the UK, they were enjoying their first hit, as ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’ reached its No. 10 peak. Meanwhile, the top five success of the Queen II album was giving its predecessor (just called Queen, and released the previous summer) a belated chart debut.

It was not until literally years later, when Queen were basking in the afterglow of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and the Sheer Heart Attack album, that their first LP finally peaked, at No. 24, in February 1976. That was more than two and a half years after its release. But back in 1974, on 16 April, the band followed a 22-date UK tour (the one that produced the Live At The Rainbow ‘74 album, released only in 2014) with their first-ever show in the United States.

queen

This initial US tour had Queen supporting UK favourites of the day, Mott The Hoople. The city in question was Denver, and the venue was not one that regularly crops up in the annals of rock history: the university venue Regis College Fieldhouse. “First US tour, first performance,” said the poster. “Tickets $7.50 at campus bookstore.”

This was the first of no fewer than 19 American dates, of which the final six were in New York, at Uris Theatre, now known as the Broadway theatre the Gershwin. Now paying more attention to their image, the quartet employed Zandra Rhodes to design some of their stage costumes.

The set list that night in Denver started as the Queen II album did, with the instrumental ‘Procession.’ It contained other new songs such as ‘Father To Son,’ ‘White Queen (As It Began)’ and ‘Ogre Battle.’ The band also played that current UK hit, their first single ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ and such covers as ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Big Spender.’

They had intended to play even more than 19 shows, but their US itinerary had to be cut short on 11 May. On this day of the final Uris Theatre performance, Brian May collapsed with hepatitis, and then developed a duodenal ulcer. But on the same chart date as that final US gig, Queen II entered the US chart at No. 134, and rose to No. 49 in a 13-week run.

Follow the official Queen Best Of playlist.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Kathy

    April 16, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I saw them at the Agora in Columbus, Ohio. It was their first tour of the USA. On their way back from the west, they stopped again in Columbus, Ohio.

    I know it was a long time ago but that is what I remember.

  2. Tom Pappas

    April 30, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    One of my favorites I never saw live….

  3. Ben Ward

    April 30, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Tom Pappas, you can still see them, or at least 50% of them! Personally, as much as I love them, Queen as a current band died with Freddie Mercury’s death all the way back in 1991.

  4. Paul

    May 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Fans in Detroit were distraught that they weren’t going to play. Kansas filled in. Ironically when Queen was the headliner the next year Kansas was their opening act.

  5. Greg Osborne

    May 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Happy to say that I was there that night!

  6. Greg Osborne

    May 2, 2017 at 4:01 am

    “Regis College Fieldhouse”. Most of the concert history lists that I’ve seen rarely get that right, but that’s exactly how it was worded on the ticket. In the late Seventies thieves broke into a storage unit of mine and took a bunch of boxes with personal items, photos, etc.. My ticket stub was in one of those boxes.

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