Roger Meddows Taylor (born 26 July 1949 in Dersingham, Norfolk, England), known as Roger Taylor, is an English musician best known as the drummer, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist of British rock band Queen. As a drummer he is known for his "big" unique sound and is considered one of the most influential rock drummers of the 1970s and 1980s. As a songwriter he contributed songs to the band's albums from the very beginning, composing at least one track on every album, and (in the early days) usually sang lead vocals on his own compositions. He also wrote four of the band's hits, "Radio Ga Ga", "A Kind of Magic", "The Invisible Man", and "These Are the Days of Our Lives". He plays multiple instruments, including guitar, bass and keyboards, as heard on his debut solo album in which he played all instruments and sang all vocals. He has played with such artists as Eric Clapton,Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Phil Collins, Genesis, Jimmy Nail, Elton John, Gary Numan, Shakin' Stevens, Foo Fighters,Al Stewart, Steve Vai, Yoshiki Hayashi, Cherie, and Bon Jovi. As a producer he has produced albums by Virginia Wolf, Jimmy Nail andMagnum. He lives in Guildford, Surrey.
In addition to his drum work, he routinely played the guitars and bass on his own songs. During the 1980s, in addition to his work with Queen, he formed a parallel band known as The Cross, in which he was the singer and rhythm guitarist. In 2005 he was voted the 8th greatest drummer in classic rock music history in a poll conducted by Planet Rock Radio.
Roger Taylor lived with mother Winifred, father Michael, and younger sister Clare. When he was 7 years old he formed his first band, called the Bubblingover Boys, with a couple of friends. He played the ukulele. After seeing his older cousin playing the drums, he decided to give them a try. In 1967, he had the qualifications to go to London to study Dentistry. He wasn't very interested, but he wanted to go to London. By that time, he'd met Brian May and Tim Staffell. They decided to form the band Smile, which lasted from 1968–1970. In 1969, Taylor was working with Freddie Mercury at the Kensington Market to try and make some money (they were both living in a flat together at the time, also with Brian). They eventually found bassist John Deacon and brought him on. From then on, they were known as Queen. By the time News of the World came out, Roger met his future girlfriend Dominique Beyrand. She was working for Richard Branson at the time, who was at the helm of Queen's free concert at Hyde Park. They lived together from 1980–1987, raising their two children, Felix Luther and Rory Eleanor. They decided to get married for reasons relating to Taylor's estate, to protect his children's interest in the future. At the time, Roger was seeing another girl, Debbie Leng (also seen in the 'Breakthru' video); he moved in with her a month after his marriage of convenience to Dominique. Before the death of Freddie Mercury, Roger and Debbie had their first child, Rufus Tiger, who was born in March 1991. He ended up having two more children with Debbie: Tiger Lily, who was born in 1994, and Lola Daisy May who was born in 2000. In late 2002, Roger and Debbie decided to break up. Roger remarried on 3 October 2010, to Sarina Potgieter, girlfriend of six years.
- Main refernce: Smile
Smile were formed in 1968 by Brian May, included Tim Staffell as singer and bassist, and later Taylor on drums. The band only lasted for 2 years from 1968–1970 as Staffell left in 1970, leaving the band with only a catalogue of 9 songs:
- "Earth" (Staffell)
- "Step On Me" (Staffell/May) originally from May and Staffell's band 1984.
- "Doin' Alright" (Staffell/May)
- "Blag" (Taylor)
- "Polar Bear" (May)
- "Silver Salmon" (Staffell)
- "See What A Fool I've Been" (May, based on the song "That's How I Feel" by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee)
- "If I Were a Carpenter" (Tim Hardin) a cover regularly featuring in their live set.
- "April Lady" (Lucas) a song presented to the band by Mercury Records during their second studio session.
- Main refernce: Queen
Taylor was a prominent songwriter for the band, usually contributing one or two tracks per record.
His compositions for Queen include:
- "Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll" (Queen),
- "The Loser in the End" (Queen II),
- "Tenement Funster" (Sheer Heart Attack),
- "Stone Cold Crazy" (with John Deacon, Brian May, and Freddie Mercury) (Sheer Heart Attack)
- "I'm in Love With My Car" (A Night at the Opera),
- "Drowse" (A Day at the Races),
- "Fight From the Inside" (News of the World),
- "Sheer Heart Attack" (News of the World),
- "More of That Jazz" (Jazz),
- "Fun It" (Jazz),
- "A Human Body" (non-album B-side of Play The Game single),
- "Rock It (Prime Jive)" (The Game),
- "Coming Soon" (The Game),
- "In the Space Capsule (The Love Theme)" (Flash Gordon),
- "In the Death Cell (Love Theme Reprise)" (Flash Gordon),
- "Escape From the Swamp" (Flash Gordon),
- "Marriage of Dale and Ming (And Flash Approaching)" (written with Brian May) (Flash Gordon),
- "Action This Day" (Hot Space),
- "Calling All Girls" (Hot Space),
- "Radio Ga Ga" (The Works),
- "Machines (or Back to Humans)" (written with Brian May) (The Works),
- "Thank God It's Christmas" (Written with Brian May) (Single)
- "A Kind of Magic" (A Kind of Magic),
- "Don't Lose Your Head" (A Kind of Magic),
- "Heaven for Everyone (Made in Heaven)
Songs written by Roger, but credited the band collectively include
- "The Invisible Man (song) (The Miracle)
- "Breakthru" (intro written by Freddie Mercury) (The Miracle)
- "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (Innuendo)
- "Ride the Wild Wind" (Innuendo)
Many of these feature Roger on vocals. Roger Taylor's voice was very recognizable, for both its high range (he would often reach a E5 in full voice during lives performances) and raspiness. His extremely high falsetto, sometimes going above a A5, was characteristic of Queen's vocal harmonies, and sometimes though to be a woman's voice, or a synthetiser effect (most notably his screams on In The Lap Of The Gods).
Roger Taylor Lead Vocals in Queen
- Modern Times Rock n Roll – Queen (1973)
- Keep Yourself Alive – Queen (1973)- Call and response with Brian May, rest sung by Freddie
- Loser in the End – Queen II (1974)
- March of the Black Queen – Queen II (1974) – Lead vocals on one line (My life is in your hands, I’ll foe and I’ll fie), rest sung by Freddie
- Tenement Funster – Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
- I'm In Love With My Car – A Night At The Opera (1975)
- Drowse- A Day at the Races (1976)
- Sheer Heart Attack (song) – News of the World (1977) – Lead Vocals on chorus
- Fight from the Inside – News of the World (1977)
- Fun It – Jazz (1978)- Duet with Freddie
- More of That Jazz – Jazz (1978)
- Rock It (Prime Jive) – The Game (1980) – Freddie sings intro
- Coming Soon – The Game (1980) – Chorus lead vocals
- A Human Body B-side of Play the Game (1980)
- Action This Day – Hot Space (1982) – With Freddie
- Don't Lose Your Head – A Kind of Magic – With Freddie
- The Invisible Man – The Miracle (1989) – Chorus Lead Vocals
- Hijack My Heart – The Miracle -B-side to The Invisible Man (song) (1989)
- Let Me Live – Made In Heaven (1995)- Lead vocals on second verse
- No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young) (1997) – Lead Vocals on second verse
Taylor has had a productive solo career, releasing four albums. His first single was his 1977 cover of The Parliaments' "I Wanna Testify". He recorded it during Queen's sessions for theNews of the World album. The A-side, although a cover, was completely different from the original. The B-side was a self-penned song "Turn On The TV".
His first solo album, Fun In Space, was released in 1981. Taylor performed all vocals and played all the instruments aside of about 50% of the keyboards, which were done by engineerDavid Richards. With Queen still touring heavily and recording at the time of release, it was impossible for Taylor to promote the album to its fullest extent, so he appeared on some European TV shows to promote the single, "Future Management", including Top Of The Pops. The only other single to come from the album was "My Country". The only single released from the album in the U.S. was "Let's Get Crazy".
His next venture came in July 1984 when, after Mercury rejected a lot of his songs for the Queen album, The Works, Taylor realised he had more than enough for a full album. The album became Strange Frontier. The cover of the album is a 'pixelated' signing of his portrait photo that appeared in the liner notes of the Works album. The three singles from the album were the title track, "Beautiful Dreams" (in Portugal only) and "Man On Fire", the latter becoming a live favourite for him in later years. No attempts to promote the singles were made since Queen toured to promote 1984's The Works album, which made a Strange Frontier tour impossible, and Taylor didn't perform on any TV shows. Strange Frontier included guest appearances by bandmates Freddie Mercury and John Deacon. Freddie Mercury sang backing vocals on "Killing Time", John Deacon remixed the B-side "I Cry For You," and Rick Parfittco-wrote and played on "It's An Illusion". David Richards, the Queen engineer and producer at the time, also co-wrote two of the tracks. The album includes covers of Bruce Springsteen's "Racing in the Street" and Bob Dylan's "Masters of War".
After Queen finished their 1986 Magic Tour, Taylor started a new band, The Cross, which released three albums over their six years of existence. In 1993 the band split up, after performing one final gig at the Gosport Festival.
In 1994 he worked with Yoshiki Hayashi, drummer and pianist of X Japan and released the song "Foreign Sand" and a reworking of The Cross' "Final Destination". The album Happiness?was "Dedicated to the tasmanian tiger – thylacinus cynocephalus, but most especially... for Freddie". "Nazis 1994" from this album became Taylor's first hit single in England and was followed by two other Top 40 U.K. hits, "Happiness" and "Foreign Sand."
In 1998 he released his fourth solo album Electric Fire. He supported it with a small tour in the spring of 1999, on which Queen-guitarist Brian May joined him at the gig in Wolverhampton. Taylor also performed one of the first Internet-gigs – for which he got a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.
After nearly 12 years between solo albums, in 2010 Taylor is said to plan to release a new studio album entitled The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Broken). The first single, of the same name, was released on 23 November 2009 as a digital download, but due to popular demand it was released as a limited edition single. Originally leaked to the official Queen fan club's website for members only, it still managed to be on YouTube within hours of the early bird release.