QUEENSRŸCHE (1983–PRESENT). Classic lineup: Geoff Tate (vocals), Chris DeGarmo (guitar), Michael Wilton (guitar), Eddie Jackson (bass), Scott Rockenfield (drums).
Unlike the many pop metal bands that served as their contemporaries, Seattle’s Queensrÿche drew their inspiration more from progressive European metal bands and art rock groups like Pink Floyd and Queen, developing their own unique sound during the 1980s. Hitting their stride with the albums Operation: Mindcrime and its followup, Empire, the band dwindled in popularity with the coming of grunge in the nineties, although an enthusiastic cult fan base has supported them to the present.
Getting their start in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue in 1981, the band focused on their original music, rehearsing and writing for two years before releasing a four-song tape. Record store owners Kim and Diana Harris, impressed by their material, offered to manage the band. In 1983 the band released the EP Queen of the Reich independently and sold 20,000 copies. EMI signed the band and released a full-length version of the album, which peaked at number 81 on the charts.
After tours with such bands as Metallica and Bon Jovi and releasing the moderately successful albums The Warning and Rage for Order, in 1984 and 1986, respectively, the band had its breakthrough with Operation: Mindcrime in 1988, which brought the band’s progressive influences to the fore. The album went platinum within a year. Their next record, 1990’s Empire, was even more successful, going double platinum and reaching the number 7 spot on the charts, helped along by the hit ballad “Silent Lucidity.”
The live Operation: LIVEcrime followed in 1991, with Promised Land arrivin three years later, in 1994, debuting at number 3, despite the emergence of grunge. Hear in the New Frontier (1997) found the band pruning its sound of its progressive elements for a more basic approach that seemed to alienate some fans and reviewers. The album performed poorly and soon after guitarist DeGarmo left the band, with guitarist Kelly Gray taking his position. A greatest hits package followed in 2000.
The double live Live Evolution CD and DVD were released in 2001, with a new studio effort, Tribe, coming in 2003. Operation: Mindcrime II came in 2006 Another best of collection appeared in 2007, along with Take Cover.
Discography: The Warning (EMI America, 1984); Rage for Order (EMI America, 1986); Operation: Mindcrime (EMI America, 1988); Empire (EMI America, 1990); Operation: LIVEcrime (EMI America, 1991); Promised Land (EMI America, 1994); Hear in the Now Frontier (EMI America, 1997); Q2K (Atlantic, 1999); Live Evolution (Sanctuary, 2001); Tribe (Sanctuary, 2003); The Art of Live (Sanctuary, 2004); Operation: Mindcrime II (2006); Mindcrime at the Moore [live] (Rhino, 2007); Take Cover (Rhino, 2007); Greatest Hits (Virgin, 2000); Revolution Calling (EMI, 2003); Sign of the Times: The Best of Queensrÿche (Capitol, 2007); American Soldier (2009); Dedicated to Chaos (2011).