Born in Norfolk, Roger Taylor fell in love with music when he was just seven years old. In the late ’50s, after his family moved to Cornwall, he took up the ukulele. In the early ’60s, he was a member of the Truro Cathedral Choir and also taught himself to play guitar and drums.
As a teenager, Taylor joined a group called Johnny Quale & The Reactions. When the frontman departed, they became The Reaction with Taylor taking over on lead vocals while playing drums. However, he quit the band when he moved to London for school, enrolling in dentistry courses and later studying plant and animal biology.
In 1968, Taylor auditioned and was selected to be the drummer for a trio called Smile that included guitar virtuoso Brian May. When their lead singer left in 1970, Freddie Mercury came on board, followed soon after by bassist John Deacon – and the celebrated band Queen was born.
Although best known for his role in Queen, Taylor has always been active with solo work and other music projects.
In 1977, he released his debut single, a reworking of the song I Wanna Testify that was originally written by George Clinton and recorded by The Parliaments. Taylor’s debut solo album Fun In Space arrived in 1981 and reached No.18 on the UK albums chart.
His sophomore solo album Strange Frontier came out in 1984, featuring guest appearances by Mercury and Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt.
In 1987, Taylor recruited four musicians and formed a band called The Cross, for which he played guitar. They released three albums between 1987 and 1991 as well as toured in the UK and Germany.
Taylor returned to his solo work after Mercury’s tragic death in 1991. He revealed Happiness? three years later. Although its controversial first single Nazis 1994, attacking neo-Nazism, was banned by some radio stations, the publicity helped both it and the album land at No.22 on the UK singles and albums charts.
In 1998, Taylor added some elements of electronica to his sound and unveiled his fourth solo album Electric Fire. It spawned two top 50-charting singles: Pressure On and Surrender.
The first decade of the new millennium saw Taylor involved with various events promoting Queen – including their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and appearances on the US television reality show American Idol, on which Adam Lambert was a finalist. Since 2011, they would collaborate as Queen + Adam Lambert for numerous performances and worldwide tours.
In 2013, Taylor released the politically charged album Fun On Earth as well as the comprehensive box set The Lot. His first two solo albums were re-issued in 2015, plus Taylor composed the soundtrack for the film Solitary including the song When We Were Young.
Deeply affected by the death of David Bowie in 2016 as well as contemplating his own mortality, Taylor released the haunting single Journey’s End in 2017 along with a cinematic video filmed in Cornwall. Spanning six minutes and 50 seconds, the highly personal song was an instrumental he performed entirely by himself.
In June 2021, Taylor confirmed his sixth solo album Outsider would arrive on 1 October 2021. With much of it recorded during lockdown, the reflective tracks, which convey a sense of seclusion and the passing of time, are dedicated “to all the outsiders, those who feel left on the sidelines”.
In addition, Taylor announced he would play 14 intimate shows on a UK solo tour later that month to introduce the new material and revisit some of his best loved Queen compositions.
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