from the album Empire (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #9 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11
Today's song of the day comes from the progressive metal band Queensrÿche, who started out as a metal cover band under a few names with guitarists Chris Degarmo and Michael Wilton in the late 70s. Adding bass player Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield, they eventually recruited Geoff Tate, who was in another band called Myth, to sing on their demos after converting their name to the current moniker. After the success of the EP that resulted from those demos, Tate left Myth and became the permanent(?) lead singer of Queensrÿche in 1983, when EMI signed them on, re-released that self-titled indie EP which peaked in the upper half of the album chart (#81). The lead track from the short album, "Queen of the Reich", which helped named the band, popped on to the British chart at #94. After a couple of moderately successful full-on metal albums, The Warning and Rage For Order, the band put out their first major record, Operation: Mindcrime. The dystopian concept album went Platinum (sold over a million copies) and gave the group their first rock radio hit with "Eyes Of A Stranger" (#35, Mainstream Rock), which also hit the UK chart at #59. Another track from the album, "I Don't Believe In Love", was nominated for the first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance (losing to Metallica's "One"). They opened the next decade with a contribution to the soundtrack to the Andrew "Dice" Clay movie The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane, which resulted in "Last Time In Paris" going to #27 on the rock radio chart. Later that year, Queensrÿche released their most successful album to date, Empire. With similar seriousness as Operation: Mindcrime without a strict storyline to follow, the album sounded like a metal answer to Genesis' evolution from progressive rock to lite rock hitmaking machine. The first single and title track which dealt with the war on drugs, climbed to #22 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart, followed by the inspirational "Best I Can", which was like Styx doing Stryper, reaching #28. But it took the third try with the delicately beautiful "Silent Lucidity", which brought Queensrÿche to pop radio. Written by DeGarmo and produced by Peter Collins, who used the late soundtrack genius Michael Kamen to arrange the orchestra heard on the record, the dream-like state requested in the lyrics translated in the music as well, and many casual listeners seriously thought this was a Pink Floyd record...
"Silent Lucidity" became Queensrÿche's sole pop charting hit, reaching the top ten in June of 1991 (making them a true "one hit wonder"). The single spent one week at #1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Internationally, the song hit #7 in Canada, and made the top-40 in New Zealand (#11), the UK (#18), the Netherlands (#21), and Switzerland (#24). It was nominated for two Grammys in 1992, losing Best Rock Song to Sting's "The Soul Cages", and Best Rock Duo/Group Performance to Bonnie Raitt and Delbert McClinton's "Good Man, Good Woman".
Three more songs from Empire reached the Mainstream Rock radio list, with "Jet City Woman" going to #6, "Another Rainy Night (Without You)" following close behind at #7, and "Anybody Listening" hitting #16 in 1992. During that time, a live album from their first headlining world tour, Operation: Livecrime, reached #38 on the albums chart. A year later, another soundtrack cut that Kamen helped with that sounded as majestic as "Lucidity", "Real World" from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero, spent a week at #3 on the rock radio chart.
Four years after the release of Empire, Queensrÿche came back with a new studio record, Promised Land, which produced two more top ten rock hits with "I Am I" (#8) and "Bridge" (#6). It was their highest-charting album at #3, but nothing from it reached pop radio. The same went with its successor, Hear In The New Frontier, even though lead single "Sign Of The Times" was their biggest rock radio hit after "Silent Lucidity", spending two weeks at #3. After a disastrous tour which led DeGarmo to depart Queensrÿche for a while. The band brought in Kelly Gray, who was in Myth with Tate, and their next album Q2K gave them a moderately successful rock hit in "Breakdown" (#27).
In the 2000s, the band tossed Kelly and their major-label status and went with indie label Sanctuary for their next record Tribe, which Degarmo helped write and record, but didn't come back to tour with the band. From it the single "Open" was their most recent rock radio hit at #38. Other guitarists came and went, and a sequel to Operation: Mindcrime (Operation: Mindcrime II) was pretty successful, reaching #14 on the albums chart in 2006.
However that brief upswing didn't last, as tension between Tate (whose wife had usurped the title of manager) and the rest of the band (including new guitarist Parker Lundgren), caused them to toss Tate out, first continuing under the name "Rising West" before formally recruiting Todd La Torre to go back to calling themselves Queensrÿche. Tate sued, and while the court procedings drug out, both Tate's and Rising West's version of Queensrÿche released albums within a couple months of each other in 2013, although the non-Tate Queensrÿche album was much more successful, reaching #23 on the albums chart. Wilton, Jackson, Rockenfield, Lundgren, and La Torre got to continue as Queensrÿche, with Tate retaining the rights to the Operation Mindcrime concept. The band's most recent release, 2015's Condition Human, got to #27 on the albums chart.
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