Our Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs list presents ten of the most loved Roger Taylor Queen songs written by Roger Taylor. Some of these songs were sung by Roger Taylor while others were sung by the band’s legendary lead vocalist Freddie Mercury. You may be surprised that some of the Queen songs on this list were written by Roger Taylor.
On July 26, 1949, Roger Taylor was born in the newly developed maternity ward of West Norfolk & Lynn Hospital, England. At the time, he was among the sixteen newborns who were visited by then-Princess Elizabeth of Windsor. Three years later, this is the same lady who became Queen Elizabeth II.
As for Roger Taylor, he grew up as a young lad who had a keen interest in music. He formed his first band when he was seven years old, playing the ukulele. When he was a teenager, he was already a multi-instrumentalist by first learning the guitar, then the drums. He realized between the two his true niche as a musician was serving as a drummer. When asked who was one of his main role models, Roger Taylor’s answers will be Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as Keith Moon of The Who. However, embarking on a full-time music career wasn’t what Taylor had in mind at the time. In 1967, he was enrolled at the London Hospital Medical College with the intent to become a dentist. However, he realized biology was more to his liking so he switched his major, as well as his school, to East London Polytechnic. In the meantime, Taylor continued performing music. In 1968, he met with Brian May and Tim Staffell after responding to a college noticeboard ad posted by a band named Smile. They were looking for a drummer.
As Smile, it was Brian May as lead guitarist, Tim Staffell as lead vocalist and bass guitarist, and Roger Taylor as a drummer. For two years, the group performed together until Staffell moved on to join another band, Humpy Bong. When he left, Smile had nine original songs to their name. By this time, Taylor was also working at London’s Kensington Market. This is where he and Freddie Bulsara served as coworkers, as well as roommates. Bulsara was a fan of Smile while the group performed as a trio. After Smile disbanded once Staffell left, Taylor was offered a drumming spot for a group called Genesis. He turned it down, which led to an opening for Phil Collins to fulfill.
With the encouragement of Bulsara, Brian May and Roger Taylor continued as Smile. Not long after this, Bulsara joined as their new lead singer. Upon doing so, two things happened. First, Smile’s name was changed to Queen. Second, Freddie Bulsara became Freddie Mercury. After these changes occurred, a new bass guitarist named John Deacon was eventually brought in to join Queen’s lineup. This came after a few bass guitarists came and left. In 1973, approximately two years after recruiting Deacon to become a four-man band, Queen released its self-titled debut album.
From 1970 until 1977, Roger Taylor primarily served as Queen’s drummer before starting a solo career. However, he never left the lineup. He, along with Brian May, still remains as Queen continues to rock on. While Queen was never been the same since the death of Freddie Mercury on November 24, 1991, the legacy of this British-based rock band continues. Ten years after Mercury’s death, Queen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While fans mostly heard Freddie Mercury belt out Queen songs, Roger Taylor also made his contribution as a lead singer. His raspy voice as he sang was impressionable enough to have a Brazilian species of damselfly named after him. The Heteragrion rogertaylori was labeled as such to honor Taylor’s vocal talent, as well as Queen’s album debut as a rock band.
In total, Queen has fifteen studio albums, ten live albums, sixteen compilation albums, eleven box sets, two soundtracks, and two EPs to their credit. As a group, over seventy singles were released and most of them were strong enough to become charted hits and all-time fan favorites. Many of those songs featured Roger Taylor as the lead vocalist, a role he shared with Brian May and Freddie Mercury from time to time. All fifteen of those studio albums became certified at least gold with the British Phonographic Industry. 1974’s Queen II earned this, as did the 1980’s Flash Gordon soundtrack. The rest of the studio album collection earned multiple certifications. 1977’s News of the World and 1980’s The Game were Queen’s two most successful studio albums when it came to commercial sales. With the Recording Industry Association of America, each of them was certified platinum four times.
However, these numbers pale compared to Queen’s Greatest Hits compilation album, which was released in 1981. With over twenty-five million copies sold, this became Queen’s top-selling album to date. Overall, it was the fourth best-selling album of the 1980s decade. As of 2022, Queen’s Greatest Hits became platinum twenty-three times with the UK’s BPI certification process. This achievement marked Greatest Hits as the best-selling album in the group’s home nation of all time. With the Recording Industry Association of America, this album was certified platinum nine times. In Australia, this occurred fifteen times while in New Zealand, ten times. Greatest Hits also became certified three times in Canada.
The popularity of Queen and their music spiked in 1992, not long after Freddie Mercury’s death. Their song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was featured in the blockbuster hit, Wayne’s World. This would later prompt the 2018 Bohemian Rhapsody movie that featured Freddie Mercury and Queen. Once again, the popularity of the group and its Greatest Hits album spiked enough to enter the album charts around the world again.
Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs
#10 – More of That Jazz
“More of That Jazz” was a song written and sung by Roger Taylor. As the final song to the Jazz‘s tracklist, there were momentary clips from many of the songs that included “Dead on Time,” “Bicycle Race,” “Mustapha,” “If You Can’t Beat Them,” “Fun It,” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.” One of the highlights of the song included the E5 high notes Taylor hit while performing as the song’s lead singer. He also played most of the instruments that turned this jazzy tune into a hypnotic favorite, thanks to Taylor’s drum and guitar works.
#9 – Tenement Funster
“Tenement Funster” was a Roger Taylor creation that paid tribute to three of rock and roll’s biggest influencers. They were girls, guitars, and teenagers bucking authority in their quest for personal freedoms. From Queen’s third studio album, Sheer Heart Attack, “Tenement Funster” Taylor sang as the lead vocalist while John Deacon temporarily replaced Brian May as a guitarist. At the time, May was recovering from a serious medical condition that forced him on the sidelines after he collapsed while performing in concert in May 1974. “Tenement Funster” was among the songs that were already recorded by the time May was able to bounce back into the lineup.
#8 – Drowse
1976’s album, A Day at the Races, included “Drowse” as a mid-tempo ballad written by Roger Taylor. He lyrically performed this song as an elderly man looking back in time as he recalled his fondest memories as a youth. Those memories included enjoying a sunny day where there was no room for worldly troubles to drag the man down. Speaking as a fan, listening to “Drowse” right after “I’m in Love with My Car” was a favorite pairing of two Queen songs that focused on the love of cars. My brother, who was an extreme Queen fan, had these Roger Taylor classics placed right behind each other on a cassette he used to play whenever he was behind the wheel.
#7 – Sheer Heart Attack
When 1974’s album Sheer Heart Attack was released, “Sheer Heart Attack” wasn’t quite ready yet as a song to be included in the tracklist. It had to wait until New of the World’s release in 1977. Written as a punk rock song, “Sheer Heart Attack” had Roger Taylor sing the chorus while Freddie Mercury sang the rest. The infamous screams during the instrumental stretch of the song came from Brian May’s guitar. For the most part, Taylor played most of the instruments involved.
#6 – A Kind of Magic
When 1986’s Highlander recruited Queen to compose original music for its movie and soundtrack, “A Kind of Magic” was a Roger Taylor composition that came to him after hearing actor Christopher Lambert utter “a kind of magic.” It was enough for Taylor to make an entire song out of it. Lambert was the star character of a movie that enjoyed a few sequels, as well as a popular television series that ran from 1992 until 1998. In the series, however, Adrian Paul was the star as he was portrayed as a cousin who came from the same clan as the original Highlander. When it was released as a single in 1986, it became a number-one hit in Argentina and Spain. It was a number three hit on the UK Singles Chart and a number forty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Globally, “A Kind of Magic” was a top ten hit among the nations of Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. It also went on to become certified platinum in Brazil, as well as gold in Italy and the UK.
#5 – I’m in Love with My Car
“I’m in Love with My Car” from 1975’s A Night at the Opera was a Roger Taylor song that stated the obvious. At the time of recording, Brian May assumed Taylor’s performance was designed as a joke. The revving featured in the song came from Taylor’s Alfa Romeo he had at the time. The lyrics came from one of Queen’s roadies, Jonathan Harris as he was so passionate about his own car, a Triumph TR4, that he called it the “love of his life.” A thoughtful Roger Taylor penned “I’m in Love with My Car” as a tribute to Harris. This was the same song that was on the B-side of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which later became a catalyst behind the intense friction Queen was almost as famous for as their music. From 1977 until 1981, it was often played in concert with Taylor singing the lead from his drummer position. In the meantime, Freddie Mercury played the piano and sang backup.
#4 – Heaven for Everyone
In 1987, “Heaven for Everyone” was a song Roger Taylor wrote and performed with Queen. First, it was recorded with Taylor’s other band, The Cross. An inspired Freddie Mercury offered his creative input after hearing this recording. This resulted in the UK version of Roger Taylor’s Shove It album featuring Mercury as a guest lead vocalist while he sang backup. The US version had Taylor sing the lead while Mercury became the backing vocalist. The music video that was released for “Heaven for Everyone” commemorated Freddie Mercury. In it, there was footage of a 1902 Georges Meilies classic, silent film A Trip to the Moon. Speaking on a personal note, “Heaven for Everyone” was a tearjerker. It still is each time I hear it. The passion Taylor poured into this song really was that evident.
While it was Freddie Mercury’s vocal talent that gained notoriety on the official music charts worldwide, “Heaven for Everyone” is Roger Taylor’s song. Interestingly enough, when the UK album version of Shove It came out that featured Mercury as the guest lead vocalist, it was Taylor’s single version that peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart. Whatever version you prefer to hear, “Heaven for Everyone” remains one of Roger Taylor’s best. Regardless if performed as part of Queen’s lineup or on his own, this song truly is a heavenly fan favorite.
#3 – Let Me Live
From the album, Made in Heaven, “Let Me Live” was a song that was shared by three lead vocalists. Written by Roger Taylor, this song also featured Brian May and Freddie Mercury sharing their vocal input. The first verse was performed by Mercury while Taylor sang the second verse and the bridge. May’s performance came in the final verse. All three sang the choruses, as well as dubbing in the background choir. This approach achieved a gospel-sounding effect similar to Queen’s 1976 hit single “Somebody to Love.” “Let Me Live” peaked as high as number nine on the UK Singles Chart. It was the final occasion Queen would experience a top ten hit in their home nation.
Originally, “Let Me Live” was a song that was recorded with Rod Stewart in 1983. It was meant for Queen’s 1984 album, The Works, but that never materialized. Instead, an altered version found its way to Made in Heaven. The reason behind the change was to avoid running into a potential lawsuit with Emma Franklin as the original recording was too similar to her song, “Piece of My Heart.”
#2 – These Are the Days of Our Lives
Being able to listen to “These Are the Days of Our Lives” without possibly shedding a tear is not an easy thing for a Queen fan to do. This nostalgic approach to a song wound up having far more meaning to it after Freddie Mercury’s death took place in 1991. As a music video, it was his final appearance. Remembering as a fan who watched it for the first time, the biggest memory I had of it was seeing a man who showed he was dealing with a serious health issue. Up until the day before his death, he publicly denied his medical situation was AIDS-related.
“These Are the Days of Our Lives” was extraordinary. This is an intensely emotional song that allowed the fans to watch and hear one of Queen’s last hurrahs with Freddie Mercury still in the lineup. For Taylor, this was a song that really struck home, especially after Mercury died. These two men were colleagues, friends, and roommates ever since they were teenagers. The whole point behind this song was celebrating today. Yesterday was no longer important and tomorrow wasn’t here yet to be of concern. Although the truth of Mercury’s ailing health was kept from the public, those closest to him knew what was going on. This clearly played a factor in the songwriting that went into “These Are the Days of Our Lives.”
The impact of this song earned it a 1992 British Single of the Year with the Brit Awards. It was a number-one hit in the UK, as well as Ireland. It charted again in 2021 on the UK Singles Chart at number eighty-one. Since its release, “These Are the Days of Our Lives” became certified silver and platinum by the BPI. It earned silver from Queen’s eleventh studio album, Innuendo. This same song earned platinum after the release of 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack. Written by Roger Taylor and sung by Freddie Mercury as the lead vocalist, this was one of Taylor’s best works as a songwriter.
#1 – Radio Gaga
As a single, “Radio Gaga” was Roger Taylor’s finest achievement as the songwriter behind one of Queen’s biggest hits of all time. Speaking as a fan who watched Queen take the stage during the July 1985 Live Aid broadcast from Wembley Stadium, I distinctly remember Taylor’s handclapping display. I’m certain I can speak for most of the fans that will agree that moment was enough to feel the body heat up with goosebumps from head to toe. As a band, Queen made history. As a song, “Radio Gaga” made history. Roger Taylor made this happen on both fronts.
At the time, Freddie Mercury was contending with personal issues that caused a rift between himself and his bandmates. It also isolated him from the rest of the world. He didn’t know about Bob Geldolf’s efforts to assemble a massive rock concert that would feature some of the world’s top performers. Once this was brought to his attention, he was all in. Again speaking as a fan, the second “Radio Gaga” played at Live Aid, the world around me ceased to exist. This song was already a personal favorite before hearing it as a live performance. It became even more so afterward. I also know I don’t speak for myself, here. Roger Taylor’s “Radio Gaga” was epic songwriting at its best. Oddly enough, the inspiration behind “Radio Gaga” came for Roger Taylor after hearing his son say “Radio Ca Ca.” From there, Taylor applied his childhood memories as a fan of music who listened to the radio in the form of a song.
Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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