HistorySeattle, Washington, USA has been the home of Q5, Culprit, Metal Church, Heir Apparent and more talent, but it would come to be better known for the grunge movement after 1990. Nonetheless, it was in the earlier environment that Queensrÿche was founded.
Queensrÿche was founded in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle in Washington, USA in 1982 after going as The Mob for one year. The Mob, which had evolved from Cross + Fire and named after the Black Sabbath album, tried its hand at NWOBHM cover versions. The band began its existence as a heavy metal band, turned hard rock, turned progressive hard rock, pop, grunge and with the decline of hard rock and heavy metal fell apart before the usual reformations and line-up changes hit. The band was characterized by its musicianship, high-pitched vocals, articulate concepts and sales despite not following a glam formula for the most part. Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Crimson Glory are larger American hard rock bands with progressive elements.
The band was singer Geoff Tate, guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield. The classically trained Tate was borrowed from local heavy metal band Myth. ‘Jeff’ Tate, and his high octave voice, was on loan at first for various small local shows. Several members had previously played in Cross + Fire. The guitarists had been in the school band Joker at Interlake High School in the late 1970s. Garmo was added a year after formation in 1979 and was let go by his future band-mate soon thereafter. Joker and Tate’s band Tyrant had competed in a battle of the bands. The winner was Ridge featuring drummer Ken Mary. Ridge would become Fifth Angel. The Queensrÿche EP of 1982 was issued as The Mob before the band changed its monicker and released the EP under the new monicker borrowed from the same release. Guitarist Chris DeGarmo was the primary songwriter. The 206 Records imprint belonged to the band’s managers, Kim and Diana Harris of Easy Street Records, a records’ shop in Seattle. The idea for the logo came from Todd Rockenfield, Scott’s brother. The title itself was morphed from the song Queen Of The Reich. This garnered the band major label attention and a seven-album deal with EMI, which had Iron Maiden on its roster. Iron Maiden was an influence on the band. The EP was given a major label release in 1983. The band had already played two shows opening for Zebra. Tate had signed out of Myth with the EMI deal in hand. Myth’s music, featuring Tate, would be issued as Before The Rÿche CD in 2019. Trivia-wise, a replacement for Geoff Tate in Myth would perform one show with Dream Theater. Myth itself would move back into its practice room in the basement of the Gray house in Redmond Valley, Washington. Back with Queensrÿche, the major label signing is ironic given the band’s lyrical protestations. Shows with Twisted Sister (in Canada as well as USA), Dio and Quiet Riot followed and the group even previewed songs from its upcoming album. KZOK radio hosted the band in the studio for an interview.
The band began touring including arriving in Japan in 1984. A laser disc called Live In Tokyo was issued soon. This material was tagged to the debut EP’s reissue a decade later. The group’s debut full-length was called The Warning and issued in September of 1984. It was a concept album warning about environmental destruction and the book 1984. The Warning was recorded in London, England with James Guthrie whose credits included Judas Priest and Pink Floyd. The boys opened for Iron Maiden and Kiss. From here on the band’s sound would become less metallic and more commercial.
Rage For Order was produced by Neil Kernon. The band covered Canadian singer Lisa Dalbello in order to have a commercial tune for radio. Kernon added and played keyboards and applied effects to the album. Geoff Tate was a guest vocalist on the charity endeavour Hear N Aid. The band opened for Bon Jovi and Ozzy Osbourne. Former Myth keyboardist Randy Gane (sometimes called Random Damage) accompanied the group off-stage. He would do the same many years later again. Operation: Mindcrime has become the band’s seminal work. Geoff Tate came up with the idea and has said he was inspired by his time living in Montreal, Canada in the late 1980s. Operation: Mindcrime was a commercial hit. It was a concept album revolving around a junkie who had become a pawn in politically motivated killings and assassination. He was in a relationship with a prostitute-turned-nun. The album was recorded in Montreal, Canada with Pamela Moore playing the nun. Video: Mindcrime, a home video, answers more questions about the story. It was issued in 1989. The band was touring, opening for Def Leppard and then Metallica. All three shared a management company. The Eyes Of A Stranger video helped the band transition to headliner status. Empire was an even bigger hit in 1990. Almost four million copies of the record have been sold. Silent Lucidity cemented the band’s rock and pop status and garnered a Grammy nomination. The band toured Europe with Lynch Mob and at a Belgian show an American stabbed a Belgian fan to death. The group appeared at an event called Rock The Environment benefit show in 1992. The members, especially DeGarmo and Tate, were not getting along. Promised Land eventually sold a million copies. The world had gone grunge anyway and Nirvana was hip. The band performed the entire album on the Road To The Promised Land tour. A video game called Promised Land CD-ROM featured a new track as well. A proposed idea for an act called The Three Tremors with Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Geoff Tate never went anywhere in 2000. At the time Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden and Halford were touring.
Hear In The Now Frontier was engineered by a grunge producer. The band fractured alongside EMI’s demise and its deal was gone. Q Prime (Metallica and Def Leppard) dropped the band from its management roster after having signed the band in 1986. guitarist Chris DeGarmo departed in 1997. His last shows were in South America. He became a pilot although would appear live with multiple acts. Several replacements guitarists would come and go. Kelly Gray was with the band from 1998 to 2002 and is reputed to have abused drugs. Q2K was profiting from the popularized fears of the day regarding computers and systems’ failures with the turn of the century, known as Y2K or Year 2000 Problem. Q2K appeared on Atlantic. The members were at odds and not communicating. There was an attempt at reuniting the original line-up in 2002. Tate explained to an interviewer that he was never into metal and that even early Queensrÿche did not count. He had forgotten his time playing covers or the material in Myth as well. Several outside songwriters were used during this period at the behest of Geoff Tate. Tribe is considered a particular low for the band. Mike Stone joined on second guitar in 2003. The band toured North America with Dream Theater and Fates Warning in 2003. The group opened for Judas Priest in North America in 2005 and previewed the continuation of the Mindcrime narrative. The band would return to the Operation: Mindcrime well in 2006 with Operation: Mindcrime II. Half the band stated that this was always planned. Another half indicated this was a commercial move and Operation: Mindcrime was a standalone story. Ronnie James Dio provided the voice for Dr. X, the villain. Sign Of The Times: The Best Of Queensrÿche was a compilation issued in 2007. It was a double-disc, which featured three Myth songs written by Tate and Kelly Gray. Extended Versions was recorded live in 2001. Soulbender was Wilton’s solo album and featured the ubiquitous Ripper Owens in 2008. American Soldier from 2009 was a concept album. Lita Ford snatched the opening slot on that autumn’s Queensrÿche tour in support of the American Soldier album. In a strange twist, members of Queensrÿche were to act as the backing band for Lita on several songs. In fact, Lita and Geoff Tate were to perform a duet. Guitarist Mike Stone quit in order to focus on his project, Speed X. W.A.S.P., Queensrÿche, Girlschool, Lauren Harris, Rock Goddess and New York Dolls were booked at 2009’s Hard Rock Hell festival announced for December 4-5th at Pontins in Prestatyn Sands in Wales. The band might have sung critically of empires in the past, but Queensrÿche played several shows for U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq in 2010. Dedicated To Chaos referenced the band’s second album Rage For Order, but appeared without the umlaut in the act’s logo. The band compensated in 2015 by putting an umlaut on its album title, Condition Hüman. More importantly, Dedicated To Chaos was the band’s last with Geoff Tate. The disc was a commercial flop. Metal Church singer Ronny Munroe released a solo album, called Lords Of The Edge, in late 2011. Wilton was a guest. Tate was a guest with Avantasia in 2015.
There had been intra-band tension for some time with many accusing Tate of being an egotist. The singer had a falling out and was asked to leave after many back-and-forth and mutual accusations. This culminated when the musicians formed a group called Rising West in 2012. ‘West’ stood for Whip-Eddie-Scott-Todd. They hired Todd La Torre in June 2012 and began playing concerts playing Queensrÿche songs. La Torre was initially a collaborator for outside projects, but quit Crimson Glory in 2013. Geoff Tate focused on his own namesake band. Queensrÿche, Accept, Dokken and MSG were booked for 2012’s South Texas Rock Fest, on Saturday, October 13 at Sunken Gardens in San Antonio, Texas. The guitarists for Italian act Headless were part of Geoff Tate’s solo act and Queensrÿche drummer Scott Rockenfield helped with that band’s second record.
Tate was fired and the members picked up the Queensrÿche monicker. Tate’s stepdaughter was relieved of her duties as fan club manager and Tate’s wife Susan was booted from her management position. She had managed the band since 2005. Tate and the band members had a fisticuff and Tate spat on his fellow band members. Glen Parrish of PGM Management picked up the band members who were operating Rising West. Tate sued for the rights to the band’s name and, while the matter wound its way through the court system, two albums under the Queensrÿche name were issued in 2013. The court gave the name to the Todd fronted band in April 2014. However, his consolation prize was that only he could perform the Mindcrime concept live in its entirety. Tate then renamed his band Operation: Mindcrime. The band recruited Todd La Torre of Crimson Glory and signed with Century Media in spring of 2013. The band began crowdfunding a record in late 2014. Parker Lundgren was on second guitar as of 2012. He was married to Geoff Tate's stepdaughter Miranda Tate. Parker Lundgren would miss the band's U.S. shows opening for Scorpions in 2018. He left in order to concentrate on "other business ventures" in 2021. The band opened for Scorpions on tour in the USA in 2015. A tour of the USA ensued in January 2016. Armored Saint headed back out on the road in November and December 2016 as support to Queensrÿche. MVD Entertainment released the feature film debut of Geoff Tate. The film was called The Burningmoore Deaths (formerly The Burningmoore Incident) and was a horror piece written and directed by Jonathan Williams. The band and its former singer were working on a re-release of the Empire album on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary as of 2018. The Verdict featured La Torre on drums and vocals! Casey Grillo, formerly of Kamelot, was drumming for the band live. Fates Warning was on the road with Queensrÿche in 2019. Stone returned in 2021. Scott Rockenfield filed a lawsuit against his former band-mates, Michael Wilton (guitar) and Eddie Jackson (bass), in October 2021. The drummer alleged that he took paternity leave from the band and its corporations in February 2017 and yet had been denied most of the one-third share of royalties and proceeds since as he had been let go of his board seat. He also claimed that the band had hindered him from returning leading to a loss of income. Queensrÿche, which was recording a new album to start 2022, pulled out of Scorpions' rescheduled Sin City Nights Las Vegas “residency” in order to open for the rescheduled Judas Priest 50 Heavy Metal Years North American tour in March and April 2022. Geoff Tate was to perform the entire 1994 album Promised Land at Limelight Belfast 2 in Belfast, Ireland on 28.08.2022.
Tate announced he would commemorate the 35th anniversary of his former band's Operation: Mindcrime album on a tour in the UK in June 2023.
QUEENSRŸCHE - LIVE EVOLUTION - SANCTUARY/EMI
It is difficult to justify this double live CD by Queensrÿche. The booklet and double jacket presentation is nice and there is some effort made to segregate the band's different incarnations on the CDs. The sound seems genuine and honest. Still, Queensrÿche has spent the last 10 years distancing itself from metal and finding refuge within the shaky genres of grunge and rock. Thus it is hard to appreciate what seems like a real effort here. There is also the undeniable fact that live albums have passed their usefulness and it is only a matter of a couple of loonies to upgrade to a live video complete with stereo sound and sight. For the fan or potential buyer, the CD features almost 30 tracks of all Queensrÿche eras. - Ali "The Metallian"
QUEENSRŸCHE - SIGN OF THE TIMES: THE BEST OF QUEENSRŸCHE - CAPITOL
Good band, good songs, good lyrics, so why the mere 'above average' grade? My CD is an advance one-discer that is therefore missing the second disc of the package that is Sign Of The Times. While songs like Queen Of The Reich, Warning, Silent Lucidity and The Lady Wore Black are very good (and make up for the newer songs of the band), it is the second disc of this set that would compel a fan to get this release. That disc that features a new song co-written by former guitarist Chris DeGarmo and called Justified, as well as rare demo songs and tracks by early band Myth is not part of my package. Sigh.
For people who are just now looking into the band or trying to compare the band’s different periods sound-wise Sign Of The Times is a rich audio package. Diehards and current fans should look into the rarities included, although an exact review is not possible here. - Anna Tergel
QUEENSRŸCHE – CONDITION HÜMAN – CENTURY MEDIA
Condition Hüman is the band’s second album with new vocalist Todd LaTorre, who had spent some time with Crimson Glory before he joined Queensrÿche. In terms of replacing Geoff Tate, there could hardly have been a better choice. LaTorre sounds like the young Geoff Tate and is able to reach heights that Tate has not been able to reach in years. The music has also taken a step back to the band’s earlier days. It is not quite on the level of classics like Rage For Order or Operation: Mindcrime, but fans who liked Empire will immediately feel comfortable with the new material. The great up-tempo opener Arrow Of Time begins with Crimson Glory-like harmonies, but as soon as the main riff sets in, it feels like Queensrÿche. Guardian (not a Fates Warning cover) is very progressive and features multiple layers of vocals. Hellfire is one of the weaker songs with a strangely disharmonic chorus. Toxic Remedy could well have been on Empire – it has that familiar majestic opening and nuanced vocals. Selfish Lives has a touch of recent Symphony X. Eye 9 starts with a bass intro and has a very simple structure. Bulletproof begins with a children’s choir and is probably the second best song on the album – the chorus “ You know the trigger’s right in front of you, so pull it now and make a move – I’m bulletproof” is very catchy. Maybe it’s even a hint at Geoff Tate’s past attacks on his old band. Hourglass sounds a bit too modern in its riffing, but it gets better once an acoustic guitar backing sets in. The ballad Just Us sounds surprisingly like Dream Theater. All There Was is very fast and has a sci-fi atmosphere. The Aftermath is a brief one-minute intro to the title song, at over 7 minutes one of the album’s longest. It is a bit tedious though and could probably have been shortened a bit. Overall, this is a fine album. Fans who were disappointed in the last records with Tate should definitely listen to it, if they have not done so already. The classics are out of reach, but the band is back to what it does best – playing great progressive metal with intelligent lyrics. – Andreas Herzog