Independence Day: How Queen Avoided Breakup And Took Control Of Its Career

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

July 9, 2021

One of Queen's ultimate goals from its early days was not success onstage or on the charts, but in its bookkeeping.

Despite producing several hits and touring rigorously, Queen made no money on royalties from its first three albums and the band members were living in relative squalor when they weren't on the road. It was after bassist John Deacon took over the band's finances in the mid-1970s that Queen was eventually able to break free from the many hands in its pockets.

Under Deacon's guidance, the band turned to talent manager Jim Beach to handle its day-to-day business affairs. Beach recalled how Freddie Mercury explained the band's fiscal situation in their first meeting.

"I always remember Freddie walked in first, they sat down, and Freddie kicked straight off by saying, ‘We’ve recorded three albums, our manager’s just bought his second Rolls Royce, and we’re on 60 quid a week, so something’s wrong’,” Beach said.  

Financial independence made way for creative independence. By the band's seven-year anniversary in 1978, when most bands naturally break up, Queen tripled-down, establishing several satellite companies to assure its viability far into the future.

“It’s the long road to artistic, financial freedom which is so hard to find if you’re successful to any degree ‘cos there’s a million sharks out there,” added drummer Roger Taylor.

By the late-'70s, Queen's debts were paid and the band had only its music to worry about. The band took more control in the studio, self-producing its albums with assistance by engineer Mike Stone.

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