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Brian May with the Queen coin. (Image courtesy of Universal Music Group. The Royal Mint retains copyright ownership © of all images.)
Brian May with the Queen coin. (Image courtesy of Universal Music Group. The Royal Mint retains copyright ownership © of all images.)

Don't stop them now: Music legends Queen to be celebrated on UK coin


Mon, Jan 20th 2020 12:15 pm

Royal Mint announces new commemorative coin to celebrate legacy of one of Britain’s most loved bands; tribute to all four members of Queen, depicting their different instruments and contributions to the group

The Royal Mint has announced the iconic band Queen will be celebrated with the launch of a commemorative coin collection, making it the first time that a British band has been celebrated on U.K. coinage. Available now, the design is the first in The Royal Mint’s new “Music Legends” collection.

Known for pushing the boundaries with their own unique style and continually reinventing their approach to music, Queen’s layered sound and flamboyant anthems continue to influence a new generation of musicians decades after they were formed.

Perhaps the most striking example of the band’s determination to be bold was 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 favorite song of all time. The opening notes of “Bohemian Rhapsody” are so well recognized 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, with the Bechstein grand piano – which Freddie Mercury played for “Bohemian Rhapsody” – featuring at the top of the coin. Meanwhile, the group’s logo is placed at the center 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 – also features alongside John Deacon’s Fender Precision Bass. Finally, Roger Taylor’s Ludwig bass drum is decorated with the Queen crest, as it appeared in the band’s early days.

May 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 recognized and our music celebrated in this way is very touching – a real honor.”

Taylor added: “Marvelous, all this fuss over our band. I feel entirely spent.”

Nicola Howell, chief commercial officer at The Royal Mint, commented: “Queen were one of the most influential bands of their generation, and their timeless classics are still enjoyed by millions of fans around the world. That’s why we’re so pleased to be honoring their great contribution to British music with their very own coin, which will be the first time a British band has been celebrated on U.K. 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.”

Chris Facey, designer of the Queen coin, added: “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 honor to be asked to commemorate such an extraordinary band on a U.K. 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.”

The collaboration was brought together and facilitated by Bravado, Universal Music Group’s leading merchandise and brand management company. The first in an 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.

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