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Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Queen
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Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Queen

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  531 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Queen is unique among the great rock bands. It's been nearly 20 years since frontman Freddie Mercury's death brought the band to an end, yet their fan base remains massive, they appeal equally to men and women, and their fans are just as likely to be teenagers too young to have been born when the band were still touring and making records (thanks not least to the huge succ ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 17th 2011 by Aurum Press (first published 2010)
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Wim Van
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Could have been a lot better with the story on offer. It isn't particularly well-written and if it hadn't been about Queen I wouldn't probably have finished it. There are lots of mistakes in the text. At one point, it even got a Queen song title wrong. What bothers me more than anything, though, is the way John Deacon is often ignored. Sure, he was the quiet one. But too often, it goes: Freddie did this, Brian said that and Roger did something else. And John? Not mentioned. And if he is mentione ...more
Arnout Brokking
Verdict: 2 ludwigs

Elaborate look into the rock-band Queen and it members. Filled with facts, interviews and little known details. Personally, I got bogged down by those details.

Why should you read it?

Because it tells, as far as I can see, as complete a picture of Queen the band, and its members, as possible. Care to know where Brian May lived when he was 14? It'll tell you.

Why should you not read it?

If you don't care where Brian May liv
Paul C
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Why did I read a book about Queen? I do not know. But this book was about Queen.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
As usual, even though it claims to be about Queen, the focus of this book is primarily on Freddie. I just wish it had been different in that aspect. But other than that, it was an interesting read, featuring some of the well-known anecdotes, as well as others that were new, at least to me.
Recommended for people who might not know much about Queen in general, and would like to get acquainted with the band's history.
If you're a devoted fan of Queen but not a scarily obsessive read-every-article-scoured-every-detail fan, you'll love this, except for the ultra-irritating errata and lousy editing in the ebook version (I got the paper version cheap, but haven't yet read that, so whether it has the same issues or not I have yet to discover). It lost a star for the latter.

On the whole, it's not a bad read. Has a lot of the early stuff that most fans will have read about already, but it does go into de
This look back at one of the great rock bands of the 70s and the charismatic frontman who led them to stardom is engaging but flawed. This biography is mostly compiled from archived interviews with the band members and contemporary interviews with collaborators and business associates. Therefore, it gives very little insight into the creative process involved in the recording of most of Queen's classic albums, which I found very disappointing. (An exception is an in-depth interview with producer ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a detailed and well-documented account, this one is a must. Having spent hours on end talking to all those close to the band and reading all available documents, the author creates a highly informative story of the greatest band ever (at least for me). It's a great read in the era of smartphones - you can always check the facts, consult uncle Google for a set list from a concert years ago, and play the songs to accompany any given chapter. The only thing I'd like to see mor ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a 40 plus year fan of Queen and this was my third biography that I read on Queen and Freddie Mercury. I really enjoyed this book and found it be to very objective and the author's certainly did not have an agenda, for example in Lesley Ann Jones book( she was definitely negative towards Mary Austin). I learned a lot more about Brian May from this book and it was really interesting to learn that Brian is a really great person. The book also made it clear what good friends Roger Taylor and Br ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this more than I expected to as it moves right along so the tabloid-ish writing doesn't bog down too much. Less "salacious" than some others.
There were some good points made and newish interviews, not just the same old ones, though I did see many of the same old quotes.
Very Team Brian May, though I think May was a cooperative source, so . . .
I have read so many Queen books there is probably not much to choose between them. I am a lenient reader of this genre.
I would no
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book gives a great background on one of the greatest bands ever existed: QUEEN.

I can’t compare this one to other biographies of Queen, but this one gives a very detailed description about how 4 guys became Queen. The author’s structure and tone lead the reader to a comprehensive appreciation of Queen and their music.

This book will rock you!
Jul 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Would give zero if I could. Typos/editing issues, novice-like factual errors, and author with blatant contempt of the band...Story has been told more objectively and effectively by others. glad I didn't have to pay for this book.
Lucia Caporalini
I've loved Queen music since I was a child (I clearly remember watching the I Want to Break Free video on the telly at quite an early age and I wonder now what kind of impact that had in my life) but I am a newbie in terms of knowing stuff about the band and the dynamics among the members. Blake's Is This the Real Life? does its job in an unflinchingly serious manner: it gives you the real facts, it doesn't binge on gossip (and that's not an easy job, considering the tons of dirt that surrou ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked this up after watching the Bohemian Rhapsody movie to see how much it deviated from 'the truth'. Turns out, quite a lot... allegedly. For such an iconic and almost universally popular band, much of the story is still shrouded in mystery with even the band members frequently contradicting each other. The band (& particularly Mercury) almost obsessively guarded their privacy and had very little time for the press so much of the story is anecdotal and you never really get a sense of kn ...more
Sonja Lindsey
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a very slow book to read. It had some interesting tidbits about the very early days and things, but it was dry and dull. Hard to get through, though mildly interesting for the information it provided.
Beth Tyson
Mmmm.....a bit snarky...little mean asides that did nothing to aid in understanding the complexities of the man and the band.

A bit snarky...mean little asides that did nothing to aid in understanding the complexities of the man and/or the band.

Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive biography of Queen with excellent detail on each album.
Soren Sondergaard
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Entertaining and interesting despite the vast amount of unnecessary details. Maybe not the ultimate biography but well worth reading.
Paula Monteiro
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Queen and Freddie Mercury. This book was a really good read.
Heather McCarthy
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Couldn’t get through this and I love Queen. Too much insignificant detail, really hard to get into
Comprehensive but not terribly well written.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Love Queen even though I let a lot of time pass between when I started and then finished the book. Looking forward to the upcoming biopic.
Paola Piliado
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not my first Band-related biography, with that in mind, this was interesting and easy to read. It goes into a lot of details of the previous bands the members were before forming Queen, that might have been the most tedious part, later on the emphasis on each album was informative and for some parts, eye-opening. I did like Queen before but didn't know lots of things until now and how the band worked together was very interesting considering lots of the other bands around the time. Overa ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Poorly written, jumps about in time within one paragraph, useless references. Painful read.
East Bay J
May 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music-bios
Well... huh. I was really looking forward to reading Is This The Real Life? and enjoyed reading it but, sadly, it just falls short.

There have been a fair amount of Queen bios over the years, more so since the passing of vocalist, Freddie Mercury. The casual Queen fan or the simply curious will likely pick up loads of information from reading this book, but anyone who is a Queen fan, who has paid attention over the years, who has, perhaps, read a previous Queen bio, will end this book feel
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Is This The Real Life fails to live up to my expectations. Once again I fell victim to reading a Biography from someone not in the band and paid for it with sheer boredom. The thing about books like this, especially coming on the heels of a wide assortment of other like-minded Bio's about a group like Queen, is that once the well has been tapped, the latest author then has the task of coming up with "new" stuff to justify reading his book about a band that has be written about countless times. ...more
Benjamin Richards
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Patricio Guevara
I used to sneak downstairs, as a kid, and put Queen - Queen on the record player before my Mum and Dad woke up. I listened over and over again. The sound of Queen and Freddie Mercury has been a constant companion my whole life. I was also quite upset by Freddie Mercury's death in 1991.

The reason I only give Is This the Real Life 4 80% is due to what I felt was a cold, dispassionate second half of the book. The author seemed to run out of steam and skated over what could have been ext
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fascinating stuff here! Mark Blake does an enviable job of combining his own personal interviews with previously published research, commentary, and quotes to form a seamless narrative of one of the world's greatest rock bands. While a die-hard Queen fan myself, I respect Blake's evenhanded coverage of all of Queen's highs and lows. While there were certainly ugly elements of Queen, and of Freddie, Blake managed to deal with them honestly while not glossing over or taking attention away from the ...more
Richard Olney
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Written nearly twenty years after the death of Freddie Mercury, this book is impressively detailed on the early years of the band and their members and the "before they were famous" phase of their career. It's also very good on what has happened to the band and brand since 24 November 1991.

As someone who listened to Queen almost exclusively in my teenage years, it's interesting for me to read their story written by someone who, i understand, doesn't like the band. I remember buying t
Tom Mueller
Mark Blake's trip through the years is a fast paced bio of Queen and their individual members. Dozens of interviews with band members and those who knew them best brings this one to life. This read prompted me to revisit some of Queen's CDs with "new ears". My new outlook on the genius of Queen as a whole gave me greater appreciation of how intense and broad based their work is, especially when delving beyond the Band's "standards".
Queen can not be saddled with any one genre; B sides - and especi
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