The biggest factual inaccuracies in the Bohemian Rhapsody film

23 November 2020, 17:11

Freddie Mercury at Live Aid and Rami Malek's recreation for the film Bohemian Rhapsody
Freddie Mercury at Live Aid and Rami Malek's recreation for the film Bohemian Rhapsody. Picture: Pete Still/Redfern/Getty/Twentieth Century Fox/Entertainment Pictures/Shutterstock

Rami Malek and the Bohemian Rhapsody movie received great reviews, but some of the Queen story has been “tweaked” for dramatic purposes. Radio X separates fact from fiction…

As Queen celebrate their 50th anniversary in July 2020, let's take a look at how the 2018 biopic treated the true story of the band and frontmen Freddie Mercury....

  1. Is it true Queen “hadn’t played for years” before Live Aid?

    Definitely not! Live Aid came in the year following the release of Queen’s hugely-successful album The Works. The tour to support the LP started in August 1984 and ended in May 1985, two months before Live Aid. Queen were experts at playing stadium shows at this point, which is why they were so tight on the day.

  2. Freddie wasn’t diagnosed as HIV positive before Live Aid

    The biggest incident of dramatic license in Bohemian Rhapsody is the timing of Freddie Mercury’s HIV diagnosis. In a heart-breaking scene, the singer tells his bandmates that he has the condition at a rehearsal for Live Aid. They perform the biggest show of their lives with this tragic knowledge. In fact, Mercury didn’t find out he was HIV-positive until April 1987, according to his partner Jim Hutton.

    In the film, Freddie tells the other members of Queen about his illness, introduces Hutton to his family and then goes on to play Live Aid, which is a hell of a day in anyone’s book.

  3. Fat Bottomed Girls wasn’t played on tour in the early 1970s

    Early in the film, Queen are shown performing to huge crowds on their first US tour. In real life, the band’s first US tour was in April 1974 supporting fellow British band Mott The Hoople (the tour is referenced in the Queen song Now I’m Here). The headline band are not mentioned in the movie and Queen are seen performing Fat Bottomed Girls, a song not written or recorded until the summer of 1978 for the Jazz album.

  4. We Will Rock You is recorded in the wrong year

    In the movie, Brian May is shown recording his stomping classic in London in 1980, while Mercury arrives from a heavy night of partying, complete with moustache. In actual fact, the song was recorded in 1977 for the News Of The World album and Fred was resolutely clean shaven.

  5. Rock In Rio was in the 1980s, not the 1970s

    At one point in the Bohemian Rhapsody film, we see Freddie leading the band in front of a MASSIVE crowd in South America while the “love of his life” Mary Austin watches on TV from miles away. The movie places this gig in the mid to late 1970s, whereas it actually took place in January 1985. It WAS stupidly big, however as this clip proves.

  6. Freddie fired Queen manager John Reid

    In the Bohemian Rhapsody film, manager John Reid (played by Aidan Gillen) tried to persuade Mercury to drop the rest of the band and go solo, leading the singer to kick the businessman out of his limo and fire him. In reality, Reid had managed Queen between 1975 and 1978 and had moved on from the role amicably, handing over the role to Jim Beach and describing it as “the gentlest parting of the ways of anyone I have ever worked with”.

    Freddie Mercury and Queen manager John Reid in 1977
    Freddie Mercury and Queen manager John Reid in 1977. Picture: Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  7. Freddie’s solo career didn’t split the group up

    One of the key plot points of the Bohemian Rhapsody film is that Freddie Mercury turned his back on Queen and started a very well paid solo career creating dance music in Munich. The band have to be persuaded to reconvene and play Live Aid in July 1985.

    This is chronologically confusing - Freddie was, in fact, the THIRD member to record a solo album, after Roger Taylor (Fun In Space in 1981 and Strange Frontier in 1984) and Brian May (the Star Fleet Project in 1983). While all this was going on, Queen recorded Hot Space (1982) and The Works (1984). Freddie’s Mr Bad Guy album was released just before Live Aid in April 1985 and was actually a commercial success, making Number 6 in the UK charts and spawning the hit single I Was Born To Love You.

  8. Queen are shown taking the stage at Live Aid right after U2

    There’s a Bono-alike shown coming off the stage as Freddie and co warm up for the show. In reality, Dire Straits had played a half hour set before Queen came on and stole the show.

  9. Freddie met his partner Jim Hutton at a house party

    According to the film, Mercury meets the man who will share the last years of his life when Hutton is serving as a waiter at one of the star’s extravagant parties. In actual fact, Hutton claimed in his autobiography that he first met the Queen legend at London nightclub Heaven around 1980.

    Freddie Mercury backstage at the Live Aid concert at Wembley, 13th July 1985. On the left is his partner Jim Hutton.
    Freddie Mercury backstage at the Live Aid concert at Wembley, 13th July 1985. On the left is his partner Jim Hutton. Picture: Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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