Like so many, Rick Rock’s teenage years were set to music. Back then the Canadian youngster enjoyed various genres, but in 1973 one of the bands he loved most was Queen.
Fronted by the flamboyant powerhouse that was Freddie Mercury, it also included other incredibly talented musicians Brian May, guitarist; drummer, Roger Taylor; and John Deacon on bass. The British-based rockers were something entirely new in the early 1970s, mixing metal and pop meshed with the big bang of operatic vocals.
“When Queen first came out, the music just grabbed me. It was a little bit more light and dark than I was used to,” he said. “They were all over the map as far as genres go.”
An example of that he adds is the group’s tune, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Rock said Freddie Mercury wrote the song after the death of Elvis Presley and the song’s style reflects the King’s roots.
“It was dedicated to Elvis and it has great vocals, but it’s also rock-a-billy which was a tribute to him,” he said.
One of the reason that Rock feels they were able to blend so many styles together is the overall intelligence of the group members — not only, musically, but academically as well. It’s widely known that band member Brian May is an astrophysicist, but Rock notes that they were all bright, particularly so when it came to music.
“They were all well educated. They were all college graduates. They wanted to do something musically where every song would build. Each one had its own nuances. Every song was epic,” he said. “They were just very talented. Every musician really admires what Queen put together ... both their recordings and live performances.”
Rock should certainly know. He’s been a musician for dozens of years, traveling around his own country and performing for crowds. But a little more than a decade ago, he began down a path that would take him ... well, anywhere the wind blows.
“I have been singing for many years off and on. I did original music and some popular songs from The Beatles. Then people started asking me, ‘Why don’t you do a Queen tribute band?’ I would always say, ‘I don’t know ... that seems like a lot of work,’” Rock said with a laugh.
But, like Freddie Mercury, he found support in good band mates. Eventually, Rock took up lead vocals next to guitarist Bob Wegner, whom was actually selected by Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor to play guitar in several productions of the musical “We Will Rock You.” Drummer Phil Charrette and bassist Mitch Taylor are also longtime musical veterans with plenty of experience traveling around the Ontario and Detroit circuits.
Together, they became the Simply Queen Tribute Band. The musicians set to work mastering not only the music but also the mannerisms and style of the group’s original members. Now fueled by the success of the recent film, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there is no shortage of gigs to play.
“Everyone really fell in love with the movie and Rami Malek, who played Freddie. We have really seen a lot of calls from that,” he said. “They are very popular right now.”
Of course, the band’s love of Queen is not fleeting, it’s something they’ve held on to for decades. Even so, Rock was right about the workload — becoming Queen was not an easy thing to do.
“It’s a tough task. It’s a marathon, and you can’t burn yourself out on the first song. Freddie was an extraordinary frontman like Mick Jaggar. He loved the energy of live entertaining and getting the crowd into it,” he said.
“Queen was really known for their live performances like Wembley Stadium. They played those big arenas. They were really great live ... in the studio too, but live they had that audience participation. But it’s been a good eight years of hard work to put us where we are today.”
That is traveling internationally to sold out shows. Simply Queen has most recently played in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. They will also soon head out to the western part of the United States. But first, they are making a stop in Georgia.
Simply Queen will take the stage at 8 p.m. June 14 at Rainbow Island on Sea Island. Tickets are $35 per person and may be purchased at www.southerngrown.com. It will be the group’s first foray down South.
But Rock is ready for the heat, humidity and certainly the hospitality.
“We are very excited to head that way. We are ready to get there and shake, rattle and roll, he said. “I will be all over the audience. We’re Canadians so we may talk a little differently but we will rock you.”