This year marks the 40th anniversary of Queen, as evidenced by the two recent waves of Queen remasters, the latest of which was rolled out on September 13.
But the band are working on a reissue of another kind: Queen drummer Roger Taylor has launched a North American talent search that gives singers, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists and drummers the chance to star in the official 2012 Queen Extravaganza Live Tour.
Taylor, who spoke to me yesterday from London, is putting together a Queen-sanctioned band of musicians who will take the band's music on the road in 2012 -- and probably long past that.
“The Queen Extravaganza isn't a traditional tribute show,” Taylor said. “It’s specially designed to enable fans to celebrate the music of Queen in a heart-stopping event.”
Taylor is putting together the band through a series of auditions that began September 19. Interested musicians -- and, again, we're talking about singers, guitarists, bassists, keyboards and drummers -- should visit queenextravaganza.com to find out how to submit their audition videos.
“It’s going to be spectacular,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be very visual, there are going to be some shocks and some tremendous surprises. It will be a rock celebration in the royal tradition.”
Is Queen guitarist Brian May involved in the process?
"We have sort of a division of labor," Taylor said. "Brian and I work very much as a team. I hate to put it this way, but it's like we're running a business -- the business of a band without a singer and a bass player. We've decided this will be my end of things, and Brian will be more involved with the show and the tour itself."
Taylor added that certain North American shows would feature guest appearances by May and himself.
The tour also will feature the input of stage designer Mark Fisher (U2, AC/DC, Muse, The Rolling Stones, Cirque de Soleil) and lighting designer Rob Sinclair (Adele, Vampire Weekend, Goldfrapp, Peter Gabriel). Taylor is part of the panel that is in the midst of judging the auditions.
"The videos -- I was just watching some last night. So far, they've been amazing, especially some of the singing," Taylor said. "I thought there'd be a lot of time-wasters and a lot of joke stuff, but what I've seen has been phenomenal. It's very exciting. We're trying to reach out into the bedrooms! There's so much talent out there."
The audition process involves two video audition rounds to be judged by a panel of judges and the public. Taylor will be present to judge the final audition round, which will take place live in Los Angeles in early December. Also, VEVO will unveil exclusive content from each audition round and the Queen Extravaganza finals.
After 40 years, does Taylor still consider Queen a living, ongoing entity?
"Yes, I do indeed," he said. "After Freddie died, the shop doors were slowly closing. But it sort of refused to die. The flame seems to be burning brighter than ever. Sometimes I ask myself why the hell I'm so busy (laughs), but I guess it's the Internet -- it's made our music more accessible to young people."
Taylor said there is no age limit, audition-wise, and he doesn't care what gear the musicians are fond of; in other words, competing guitarists don't have to own Brian May model guitars!