Rock band Queen is to be celebrated with the launch of a commemorative coin collection, marking the first time that The Royal Mint has brought the likeness of a British rock outfit to the UK’s coinage.
Available from today, the design is the first in The Royal Mint’s new ‘Music Legends’ collection.
Queen is now being celebrated for pushing the boundaries with its own unique style and approach to music throughout its year. Notably, it is Queen’s layered sound and flamboyant anthems that continue to influence a new generation of musicians’ decades after it was formed.
Perhaps the most striking example of the band’s determination was in its decision to release a six-minute quasi-operatic single, Bohemian Rhapsody, in 1975.
Before the release of the song, the label was determined to cut the length of the single significantly. However, the foursome refused and the risk paid off, with the single spending nine consecutive weeks at the top of the charts.
In 2002, 27 years later, the single was voted as Britain’s favourite song of all time. Today, the opening notes of Bohemian Rhapsody are so well recognised, that The Royal Mint’s coin designer, Chris Facey, decided it was a fitting tribute to showcase these by featuring the keys on the piano pressed down.
The coin commemorates all four members of Queen, in recognition of their contributions to the band’s success. This is done through the portrayal of each member’s instrument. The Bechstein grand piano – which Freddie Mercury played for Bohemian Rhapsody – features at the top of the coin, while the group’s logo is placed at the centre of the design and is underscored by the singer’s signature mic stick.
Brian May’s ‘Red Special’ guitar – which he still plays using an old sixpence to give his unique sound – features alongside John Deacon’s Fender Precision Bass, while finally, Roger Taylor’s Ludwig bass drum is decorated with the Queen crest, as it appeared in the band’s early days.
Brian May from Queen said: “This is a big ‘Who could have imagined it?’ moment for us. When we began as Queen, even the first rung of the ladder to recognition seemed remote and unreachable. To have our band recognised and our music celebrated in this way is very touching – a real honour.”
Queen’s Roger Taylor, added: “Marvellous, all this fuss over our band. I feel entirely spent.”
The release marks the first in a line of coins celebrating other British Music Legends, more of which will be launched later this year.
Nicola Howell, chief commercial officer at The Royal Mint, commented: “Queen was one of the most influential bands of their generation, and its timeless classics are still enjoyed by millions of fans around the world. That’s why we’re so pleased to be honouring their great contribution to British music with their very own coin, which will be the first time a British band has been celebrated on UK coinage.
“British music is one of our greatest contributions to culture around the world, and its musicians like Queen who are at the forefront of this. We’re looking forward to announcing other coins in our new ‘Music Legends’ collection later this year, marking the work of other exceptional British musicians.”
The collaboration was brought together and facilitated by Bravado, Universal Music Group’s leading merchandise and brand management company.
The first in an exciting new series celebrating innovation and success of British music, the commemorative coins will be available in Gold proof, Silver proof, and Brilliant Uncirculated and will be available to purchase from www.royalmint.com.
Prices range from £13 for the Brilliant Uncirculated coin up to £2,100 for the Gold proof coin. The Brilliant Uncirculated coin will also be available in limited numbers in three exclusive packs which includes a poster and will only be available to purchase from The Royal Mint.
Chris Facey, designer of the Queen coin, concluded: “My first memory of Queen was hearing Bohemian Rhapsody in the film Wayne’s World, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. It’s therefore such an honour to be asked to commemorate such an extraordinary band on a UK coin, and even more exciting as it’s the first coin I’ve designed.
“All four members of Queen were vital for their bravery in the music they created and the boundaries they pushed, and I hope that fans will enjoy seeing each of their contributions paid tribute to on this coin.”