In 1981, singer Geoff Tate, guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield founded Queensrÿche. In 1982 they released their self-produced, self titled debut EP on their own 206 record label. After the sale of over 60,000 records on 206, the major labels were falling over themselves to sign the band. EMI was chosen and the debut EP was re-released, with the addition of one extra song.
1984’s The Warning found the band recording in London with James Guthrie (Pink Floyd’s The Wall) and film composer Michael Kamen.
In 1986 Queensrÿche released Rage For Order, a sonic cornucopia that many considered to be the beginning of the uniqueness that is associated with the band.
In 1988 Queensrÿche broke new musical ground with their legendary concept album Operation: Mindcrime. A detailed storyline, character development and strong songs contributed to make this the band’s most ambitious and innovative work to date. Operation: Mindrcime was an enormous popular and critical success, earning the band triple platinum certification from the RIAA, and a Grammy Nomination.
1990’s Empire was a top ten sensation. Fueled by the hits of “Silent Lucidity,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Another Rainy Night (Without You),” the album sold more than four million copies. The next year and a half saw Queensrÿche touring non-stop through America, Japan, Europe and South America. They also made live television appearances on the American Music Awards and the 1991 MTV Video awards show where they were presented with the Viewers Choice Award. IN the fall of 1991, the band released Operation: Livecrime, an in-concert audio/visual recording of heir now legendary rock opera.
In 1992 Queensrÿche was nominated for another Grammy and the band had the honor of playing live at the Grammy Awards show in New York City.
After two years of touring the band took a much needed break and in 1994 returned with Promised Land. Recorded by James Barton and the band in a cabin in a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, Promised Land was an introspective examination of the self. With the hits “I Am I,” “Bridge” and “Dis con nec ted,” the record debuted at Number Three on the Billboard chart and achieved platinum certification.
In 1995 the band was one of the first to release a CD-Rom. Titled Promised Land –An Interactive Adventure it was an interesting game that led the player through the minds of the band members and explored cause and effect in a number of different ecological and moral situations.
Queensrÿche unveiled a stripped down new sound in 1997’s Hear In The Now Frontier. Unfortunately two months after it’s release, the band’s long time record company EMI went bankrupt and the tour was cut to only ten weeks as opposed to their traditional year on the road.
“The demise of EMI couldn’t have happened at any worse of a time for us.” Tate says, “The record didn’t have a chance at all without promotion and marketing, so we thought the smart thing to do was to cut the tour short and regroup to make another record.”
In January 1998, Chris DeGarmo announced his departure from the band he co-founded. After several months of discussions, the position was filled by longtime Queensrÿche friend and producer Kelly Gray.
“I’ve known Kelly about 20 years,” Tate says, “he fit right in and really added an important ingredient to the writing chemistry the four of us already had.”
“We were the long-haired outcasts,” says drummer Scott Rockenfield, who attended high school with Gray, “more interested in playing music after school than just hanging out.”
“I like to work interactively with another guitar player,” adds guitarist Michael Wilton. “When I jammed with Kelly for the first time it was like an instant marriage. It was natural and just clicked. We wrote The Right Side Of My Mind that day.”
With Gray now in the mix, the band found themselves re-energized, creating compelling new songs such as the soulful “When the Rain Comes…,” the quirky “Liquid Sky” and the sexy groove of “Sacred Ground.”
“I hadn’t felt like singing in a long time,” says Tate, “but the guys just kept coming up with really inspiring music and I found myself flooded with ideas and working at a feverish pace. Plus the general morale of the band was at an all time high, we hadn’t felt like a band in years.”
With the extraordinary Q2K, the new and improved Queensrÿche took their music to the next plateau
Queensrÿche toured for Q2K for a year and Kelly is now part of the family. Still something was missing. They were not getting support they needed from Atlantic and wanted to try a more aggressive and personal label. The choice was made and the band signed with Sanctuary Records in July of 2001.
The band felt they wanted to start with Sanctuary by recapping the last 20 years with a live album and the new double live album, “Live Evolution” was recorded at the Moore Theater in Seattle on July 27th and 28th. "We were looking for a way to best describe and define what Queensrÿche has been for the past 20 years," Rockenfield says. "After 20 years of playing in Queensrÿche and having heard numerous live bootlegs that sound like crap, 'Live Evolution' is the answer for those who hold dear the magic that happens at a live Queensrÿche show," says Wilton. . The album was released on September 25th and a DVD and VHS home video is set for release on Oct. 9.