For Patrick Myers, it all started with a search for new music.
When he was growing up, Myers, a native of Nottingham, England who currently lives just outside of London, asked friends for advice on who would be a good, then-current band with strong songwriting to get into. Myers was guided toward Queen, and said he was blown away as the legendary band’s music came through his headphones, describing it as sensory overload.
Fast-forward to today, and Myers gets to deliver that same sensation to audiences worldwide as the lead singer of Killer Queen, a renowned Queen tribute band that has been touring the world since the early 1990s. The band, named after one of Queen’s numerous famous songs, will perform in Rapid City at 8 p.m. April 23 at the Performing Arts Center.
Killer Queen came about organically in the midst of sadness. In the wake of lead singer Freddie Mercury’s shocking death in 1991, Myers — who began writing his own songs and played in some local bars as a teenager — said he and some college friends would bond through Queen’s music and played songs to each other, all with the feeling that any opportunity to experience Queen live had passed them by.
Myers and a group of friends then decided to do a public performance of Queen songs in 1993 at a time when no one else was doing tributes. After their first show, the band members were approached by an attendee of a concert who said he could get a tour started right away for them.
The tour indeed got going immediately, and hasn’t really stopped. According to a press release, Killer Queen has had a residency in the Strand Theatre, making them the first tribute band to have a show in London’s famed West End; earned awards worldwide including for the best concert at Vasteras concert hall in Sweden for 2009; and played in front of 15,000 people in 2011 at the Baltic States’ biggest festival. Myers said the biggest crowd they’ve performed for was about 25,000 people. They even have worked with Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor.
One of the biggest things that goes into Queen’s appeal, in addition to a variety of music Myers called future-proof, is the band’s connection with the audience, including Mercury’s influences from gospel music to theater and vaudeville.
“They knew how to write songs that would translate well in the studio, but they wrote songs that would translate well in the studio with a view to doing them live, too,” Myers said.
That’s an element Killer Queen strives to emulate on stage each time out.
“Our thing is to make the audience the fifth member of the band,” Myers said.
The commercial and critical success of the recent Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” reinforced how big a fanbase the band has maintained, Myers said, but it also has drawn in new fans as well.
“It’s definitely brought a kind of magnifying glass onto Queen and given people a reason to sort of sit back and rediscover or just enjoy it or share again,” he said.
Myers said he has seen lots of different generations of fans attend at Killer Queen shows over the years, with parents bringing their children to the show, sometimes for the kids’ first concert experiences.
“It can only ever remind you of you as a kid at that stage discovering the same thing, but the idea that you could’ve done that to someone else is really freeing. It’s lovely,” Myers said.