Before forming Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in a band named Smile. Freddie Mercury (then known by his birth name of Farrokh "Freddie" Bulsara) was a fan of Smile and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques. Mercury joined the band in 1970, suggested "Queen" as a new band name, and adopted his familiar stage name. John Deacon was recruited before the band recorded their eponymous debut album in 1973. Queen first charted in the UK with their second album, Queen II, in 1974, but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack later that year and A Night at the Opera in 1975 which brought them international success. The latter featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", which stayed at number one in the UK for nine weeks and popularised the music video.
The band's 1977 album News of the World contained "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", which have become anthems at sporting events. By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world. Released in 1980, "Another One Bites the Dust" is their best selling single, while their 1981 compilation album Greatest Hits is the best-selling album in the UK and is certified eight times platinum in the US. Their performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert has been ranked among the greatest in rock history by various music publications, and the best in a 2005 industry poll. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have performed under the name of Queen with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert as vocalists on several tours.
The band have released a total of 18 number-one albums, 18 number-one singles, and 10 number-one DVDs. Estimates of their record sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Queen received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.