Through its remarkable heyday, Queen—with its singular star, Freddie Mercury, and deliciously innovative guitar player, Brian May—touched folks from across the musical and pop culture spectrum. Below are ten quotes that speak to the depth and breadth of the band’s appeal. These quotes, along with spectacular photographs and a gripping narrative of the band’s rise, appears in LIFE’s new tribute issue to the band Queen: The Music. The Life. The Rhapsody, available at newsstands and online.
1) “Musically, they’re so good. The whole group stuns you, first of all because they look so interesting.” —Liza Minnelli, one of Mercury’s two favorite performers, along with Jimi Hendrix
2) “Freddie took it further than the rest . . . he took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights.” —David Bowie
3) “The most important figures in rock ’n’ roll. Freddie’s a real one-off, and that time, nobody looked like him, nobody sang like him, with the harmonies and everything.” —Elton John
4) “Every band should study Queen at Live Aid. If you really feel like that barrier is gone, you become Freddie Mercury.” —Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, on the 1985 dual-venue concert at which 70 acts performed and Queen’s bravura, 19-minute set stole the show
5) “They’ve always approached music very intelligently, probably because they have so many degrees.” —Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy, referring to the fact that all four Queen members graduated from university
6) “[Brian May] is the governor, he’s the best pop-oriented guitar player there is, really.” —Jeff Beck
7) “The name fits the band, and it fits Freddie too, it seems, because the whole thing was so majestic.” —Paul Young
8) “For a long time, I think almost all the music I played was Queen. I had a big addiction.” —Sir Jackie Stewart, three-time Formula One world champion
9) “If I didn’t have Freddie Mercury’s lyrics to hold on to as a kid, I don’t know where I would be. It taught me about all forms of music. It would open my mind. I never really had a bigger teacher in my whole life.” —Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses
10) “Freddie Mercury was and remains my biggest influence. The combination of his sarcastic approach to writing lyrics and his ‘I don’t give a f—’ attitude really inspired my music.” —Katy Perry
Here are some selected images from Queen: The Life. The Music. The Rhapsody.