10 things you didn’t know about Bohemian Rhapsody

31 October 2023, 14:25

Queen in 1975: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deacon
Queen in 1975: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deacon. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Queen’s legendary song was released on 31st October 1975. But how well do you know this immortal track?

  1. The opening piano section of the track originally known as The Cowboy Song, according to Freddie Mercury’s friend Chris Smith.

    At a Sotheby's auction of Freddie Mercury's possessions in September 2023, the a Yamaha Baby Grand piano which was used by the musician to compose songs like Bo Rhap, Somebody To Love and Don't Stop Me Now, went for a stunning £1,742,000 - a record price for a composer's piano.

    The piano belonging to Freddie Mercury is seen at 'Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own', a free public exhibition of Freddie Mercury's personal collection at Sotheby's.
    The piano belonging to Freddie Mercury is seen at 'Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own', a free public exhibition of Freddie Mercury's personal collection at Sotheby's. Picture: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's
  2. Mercury later revealed that Bohemian Rhapsody was three different songs that he’d written, and compiled together into one epic.

    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Official Video Remastered)

  3. Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded in Wales - specifically, Rockfield Studios in Momouth.

    Brian May Answers His Most Googled Questions | According to Google | Radio X

  4. The opera section took three weeks to record

    It required so many overdubs, you could see clear through the tape by the end. Producer Roy Thomas Baker recalled: “Every time Freddie came up with another 'Galileo', I would add another piece of tape to the reel.”

  5. Bismillah means “In the name of God!” in Arabic.

    Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Brian May performing live on stage, 29 November 1975
    Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Brian May performing live on stage, 29 November 1975. Picture: Andrew Putler/Redferns/Getty Images
  6. Mercury later claimed that the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody are just “random rhyming nonsense”.

    In 2023, the original working lyrics for the classic Bohemian Rhapsody were sold at Sotheby's for £1,379,000.

    The drafts, which were snapped up by an online buyer, were jotted across fifteen pages of British Midland airways notepaper and revealed that the title of the iconic 1975 song could have been "Mongolian Rhapsody" and that one line read "Mama, There’s a war began, I’ve got to leave tonight".

    The handwritten lyrics to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ are seen during the ‘Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own’, a free public exhibition of Freddie Mercury’s personal collection at Sotheby’s.
    The handwritten lyrics to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ are seen during the ‘Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own’, a free public exhibition of Freddie Mercury’s personal collection at Sotheby’s. Picture: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s
  7. Despite being just under six minutes long, Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t even the longest song on the album A Night At The Opera

    That honour goes to the epic track The Prophet’s Song; an even more complex recording which clocks in at 8 minutes and 21 seconds.

  8. The first person to play the song on the radio was Kenny Everett on Capital.

    He played it fourteen times in two days and was in many ways responsible for the success of the single.

    Kenny Everett in January 1974
    Kenny Everett in January 1974. Picture: Michael Putland/Getty Images
  9. The famous video for Bohemian Rhapsody was shot in just four hours.

    The clip was shot by director Bruce Gowers at Elstree studios in Borehamwood - now the home of EastEnders and Big Brother. The band were concerned that trying to mime to the song on TV would be awkward, plus they were about to set off on a UK tour that would take them through to Christmas Eve. The promo video was made on 10 November 1975 at the soundstage where Queen were rehearsing for their first date in Liverpool four days later. It wasn't the first pop video ever made, but was certainly the most influential - the single's nine week reign at No 1 was attributed to the effectiveness of the clip. From that point on, Queen would shoot a video for every single - and a lot of other artists followed suit.

    Queen in Freddie Mercury's flat, Holland Road, West Kensington in 1974
    Queen in Freddie Mercury's flat, Holland Road, West Kensington in 1974. Picture: Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns/Getty Images
  10. Despite reaching Number 1 twice in the UK charts, it only reached Number 9 on its initial release on the Billboard chart and Number 6 on the rival Cash Box chart.

    Freddie Mercury and Brian May performing live on stage in 1975
    Freddie Mercury and Brian May performing live on stage in 1975. Picture: Ian Dickson/Redferns/Getty Images

TRENDING ON RADIO X

Heading out on tour in '24: Kasabian, The Last Dinner Party and The Libertines

The biggest gigs and tours to come in 2024

Back with a new album for 2024: Liam Gallagher & John Squire; Vampire Weekend and The Snuts

The most anticipated new albums for 2024

The likes of The Killers, Madonna and Coldplay are part of the Glastonbury conversation

Glastonbury 2024: headliners, line-up, rumours and secret sets