Was Queen’s Name a Reference to Freddie Mercury’s Sexuality?

Freddie Mercury continues to make headlines, for his music, his stage presence, and his sexuality. Mercury had a specific concept for Queen that resonates to this day. Let’s take a look back at Mercury, his concept for the band, and why he chose the name “Queen.”

Queen's Freddie Mercury wearing a white shirt
Queen’s Freddie Mercury | Pete Still/Redferns

What was Freddie Mercury’s concept for Queen?

According to Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words, the artist says he had a “natural gift” for music. As a child he would sing Elvis Presley songs and then write his own tracks. He went to Ealing Art School in London and after he got his diploma, he said “the music thing just grew and grew. I realized music was the biggest thing in my life and I decided to try and make my living from it. It’s as simple as that.”

The idea for the band was Mercury’s while in his college days. Brian May and Roger Taylor were in a band called Smile that disbanded in 1970. The men knew each other and joined together to create a different band. Mercury felt the band formed had to be “new.” “It was a completely new chemical reaction and so it had to have a new meaning and a new title, so that we felt fresh.” John Deacon joined in 1971.

“Don’t Stop Me Now”

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He had a very specific idea for the band. “The concept of Queen was to be regal and majestic. Glamour was part of us, and we wanted to be dandy. We wanted to shock and be outrageous.” Mercury says the band wanted the public to have an immediate on the spot opinion of them and to determine whether they liked them or not.

Freddie Mercury preferred not to see the name ‘Queen’ as a reference to his sexuality

Mercury thought of the name “Queen” for a very specific reason. “I thought up the name Queen early on. It couldn’t have been King, it doesn’t have the same ring or aura as Queen. It was a very regal name and it sounded splendid. It’s strong, very universal, and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations.”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

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He added “I feel that the name Queen actually fitted that time. It lent itself to a lot of things, like the theatre, and it was grand. It was very pompous, with all kinds of connotations.” He states the gay implication was another facet but that the band “preferred to think of Queen in the regal sense rather than in the queer one.” The band was confident their music and the public’s reaction to them would work. Queen was taking “camp” to another level. This raises an interesting question – how successful was “Queen” with their concept and their name?

The success of Queen

24 Queen songs reached the Billboard Hot 100. “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” both took top spots. “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit the No. 2 spot and “We Are the Champions” took the No. 4 spot. Clearly, the concept and the name resonated with the public at that time and long after.