Queen kicks off 40th anniversary celebration

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You know you’ve entered some sort of stratospheric rock pantheon when the ultra-hip Vans company makes not only official tennis shoes promoting your band, but trucker caps as well.

So the surviving members of legendary rock band Queen — who’ve landed 18 No. 1 singles and sold over 300 million albums in their meteoric career — should feel a strange sense of skater-culture pride. But that’s just one small part of their 2011 40th anniversary celebration, which kicks off April 12, with the Record Store Day 7” vinyl reissue of their first historic single, “Keep Yourself Alive” b/w “Son And Daughter.” Then, on April 19, they’ll put out a new version of “Greatest Hits II,” which is just for starters.

Then, Queen will reissue deluxe two-disc remasters of their first five albums, with the second discs being chock full of catalog obscurities. And we’re talking unheard music here.

For the band’s eponymous debut alone, guitarist Brian May dug up five early demos from a sole existing copy — an acetate he’s had in his archives for four decades.

The other ten records will eventually hit stands, complemented by a gallery exhibition, “Stormtroopers In Stilettos,” that’s already opened in London before traveling around the world. And if you doubt the group’s enduring influence, look no further than Lady GaGa, who not only adored late frontman Freddie Mercury, but nicked her moniker from Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” hit.

For more information, visit www.queenonline.com.

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