Unlike their ‘80s pop-metal contemporaries, Queensryche strived to be more ambitious, as evidenced by their 1988 concept album Operation: Mind Crime. As influenced by the ‘70s art rock of Pink Floyd and Queen as they were by Van Halen, this Bellevue, Washington, band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton. They added high school friends Geoff Tate and bassist Eddie Jackson, as well as drummer Scott Rockenfield, before embarking on a rigorous two-year rehearsal program that led to the recording of a four-song demo tape. Upon hearing it, local record store owners Kim and Diana Harris offered to manage the band, and in 1983, Queensryche released their Queen of the Reich EP on their own label. The record garnered the attention of some major labels, leading the band to sign with EMI and put out their eponymous full-length LP that same year. Their next two albums, 1984’s The Warning and 1986’s Rage for Order, did reasonably well, but it wasn’t until Operation: Mind Crime that Queensryche stepped into the national spotlight. More progressive than previous releases, Operation: Mind Crime stayed on the U.S. album charts for a year, setting the stage for 1990’s double-platinum LP Empire, perhaps their most commercial album. The record went Top 10 in both the U.S. and the U.K., with the song “Silent Lucidity” reaching No. 5 on the American singles chart. The concert album Operation: LIVEcrime followed in the fall of 1991, with the band bringing the story of Operation: Mind Crime to life onstage. The advent of grunge and a period of inactivity set Queensryche back a bit, although their core audience stuck with them through the ‘90s and into the new millennium, when Queensryche released another concept record, American Soldier, in 2009. Recently, dissension between Tate and the rest of the band caused a contentious split, leaving two versions of the band. Although heavy metal is an increasingly popular and lucrative memorabilia market, inexpensive Queensryche material abounds, with concert tickets, posters and handbills – and backstage passes – from the band’s heyday often going for less than $100. Instruments played by band members live can fetch thousands of dollars, and authentic signatures would only increase their value. Promotional photos are usually worth about $25.
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