Queensryche was formed in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. by Geoff Tate (vocals), Chris DeGarmo (guitar), Michael Wilton (guitar), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums). They originally were from the club bands Mob and Myth (in Tate's case). Tate had studied Opera and this experience gave him a unique vocal style; he changed to performing Hard Rock because he felt it offered him more lyrical freedom. In June 1982 in the basement of Rockenfield's parents home, their first demo was recorded, and store owners Kim and Diana Harris offered to manage them. In May, 1983 the band opened their own record label called '206 Records', and released a 12-inch EP with the lead track (a song which previous to its recording was the inspiration for their name), Queen Of The Reich. This EP caused waves in Rock fandom and 'EMI' offered them a 7 album contract. The record was re-released and reached 75 in the U.K., boasting a much more NWOBHM then the Progressive Metal sound that would soon become their hallmark.
The first full album release, The Warning (1984), was not as good as its forefather, mostly due to poor mixing, which concerned both 'EMI' and the band alike. It would be 1986's Rage For Order that saw them use technology and develop their Progressive Metal style, but this time the record suffered from over compensated production in an attempt to make up for the shortfalls of the previous effort. Only two tracks, Road To Madness and Take Hold Of The Flame, lived up to expectations, especially when performed live. The record, as a whole, came across as clinical and simple to the opinion of many, but it was their coming out of sorts, and fully utilized Tate's vocals and the twin axes of Wilton and DeGarmo.
Operation Mindcrime in 1988, a concept inspired by the works and style of George Orwell about media brainwashing and social turmoil, met critical acclaim upon release. The album more than made up for the faults of its predecessors. This acclaim, however, gave it the momentum to exceed 1 million in sales. With this release, they had finally balanced the production and put themselves on the musical map. The follow-up, Empire (1990), was a much simpler and stripped-down approach, the title track receiving fair video rotation and radio play, while fellow track Silent Lucidity would be nominated for a Grammy, and give them a U.S. #5 with the album as a whole getting a 13 in the U.K and a 7 in the U.S.A. The following live set Operation: Livecrime (1991) would fail to impress as much charting in the high 30's and only in the U.S.A. Nonetheless, Queensryche had now established themselves as one of the cornerstones of the Progressive Metal style, the other's being Dream Theater and Fates Warning.
The band would be silent for four years after, with the exception of the single Real World in 1993, which was featured on Arnold Schwarzenegger's flop film Last Action Hero (released at the same time as the monumental film Jurassic Park). They returned in 1994 to release Promised Land to much media hoopla. Although a strong effort and fair seller, it did not receive the notice of their recent past work, leaving the nonetheless competent follow-ups of Hear In The New Frontier (the last for DeGarmo, with Kelly Gray replacing him), and their millennium effort, Q2K (1999), to go relatively unnoticed. Their best of compilation titled simply Greatest Hits (2000) emerged shortly later, with a live effort Live Evolution (2001) following. Their next studio effort, Tribe arrived in 2003.
Operation: Mindcrime II was released internationally on March 31, 2006. The album was their first for their new label, 'Rhino Entertainment', who they had signed to a year earlier. Ronnie James Dio provided the vocals for Dr. X, the villain. The album debuted at No. 14, the highest chart position for a Queensrÿche album since 1997.
Sign of the Times, a best of..., was released on August 28, 2007, and a special collector's edition featured a bonus disc including various demos and a new song, Justified, featuring Chris DeGarmo on guitar. On November 13, 2007, the band then released an album of covers entitled Take Cover. The album contains covers of songs by Queen, U2, The Police, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, and Pink Floyd, and was the band's second release for 'Rhino Records'.
The band's twelfth studio album, Dedicated to Chaos, was released on June 28, 2011 on 'Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records'. The album was a drastic departure from the band's previous efforts, featuring a greater emphasis on the bass and drums, and with minimal guitar work. The album was released to mixed reviews and was the lowest charting full-length album for the band in its history.
In the period 2012 to 2014 the four members of the band had a confrontation about management and merchandise that resulted in a split and a legal tussle over the name. For a period both camps performed under the band name until a settlement was reached. For a short period Rockenfield, Wilton and Jackson performed as Rising West together with a new vocalist Todd La Torre. Guitarist Parker Lundgren was not part of these legal proceedings but continued to work with Rockenfield, Wilton and Jackson. In 2014, the latter obtained the legal rights to the name of the band, while Tate received the rights to the concept behind Operation:Mindcrime.
In a band meeting on April 12, 2012, which Tate did not attend, the band fired both Tate's stepdaughter, Miranda, from running the fan club, and his wife Susan, their band manager since 2005. According to Wilton, the reasons were that "the last 3 years, basically it just came to a point that we didnt have a voice in the band anymore. It was all run by the singer and his manager, the wife." On April 14, 2012, before the soundcheck for a show in São Paulo, Brazil, Tate confronted the other members about the firing. This confrontation became heated, leading to Tate expressing himself in the form of a temper tantrum by upsetting the drum kit, throwing several punches and physically assaulting and spitting on Rockenfield and Wilton. Over the course of the band's next three shows, Wilton, Rockenfield, and Jackson felt that Tate continued to misbehave and they came "to the conclusion that they can no longer work or perform with Mr. Tate." During a band meeting on June 5, where Tate abandoned the conference call, the other band members voted to expel Geoff Tate and continue to use the Queensrÿche name with a new lead singer.
Meanwhile, as Tate was working on his solo album Kings & Thieves and tour, Queensrÿche's other band members started the side project Rising West. The project would initially be called "West", which stood for the four members of the band: "Wilton, Eddie, Scott and Todd", but was later renamed "Rising West" at the suggestion of Jackson.
Still in search of a front man for Rising West, Wilton recommended Todd La Torre to his band mates, the then-front man of Crimson Glory, whom he had met several months prior at the NAMM Show in January 2012.
On June 12, Tate and his wife filed a lawsuit in a Seattle court against his former bandmates, claiming that he was illegally fired from the band. They also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent both the plaintiffs and the defendants from using the Queensrÿche name. On July 13, 2012, the Washington state superior court defeated this motion, as well as a motion for a preliminary summary judgment filed by the defendants. The court ruled that both parties may use the name until a court ruling or settlement would arrange otherwise. As a result of the judge's preliminary verdict, both parties had a band that used the name and brand of Queensrÿche from 2012 to April 2014; the lineup fronted by La Torre, and another with Tate.
While the court case and settlement negotiations were ongoing and the trial was rescheduled several times due to settlement negotiations, both line-ups toured and released an album. La Torre & co. toured through the U.S., Canada, and Europe, performing songs from the band's old catalog as part of their Return to History Tour, and recorded a self-titled album that was released in June 2013. Meanwhile, the version fronted by Tate primarily toured the Western United States and released an album titled Frequency Unknown in April 2013.
A settlement was reached on April 17, 2014. Tate lost the brand Queensrÿche retaining only the ability to solely perform Operation: Mindcrime I & II in their entirety "in unique performances". He also lost the use of the band logo and, after two years, could no longer make any reference to his past membership in the band. He was permitted to complete any obligations he had with his own version of act but no new use would be permitted. The remaining members of the act would purchase Tate's shares out thereby terminating any interest and ownership he had to the act.
Once the drama was all over the act got to work to release Condition Hüman (2015).