Called “one of the most complex singles ever recorded,” KL “Bohemian Rhapsody” begins as a ballad, veers into opera, and ends as rock. Recording took place over three weeks in six studios CR with 180 overdubs. KL More than 70 hours went into the completion of the operatic parts. KL There is a myth TB that the tapes became nearly transparent RS500 from more than 180 overdubs. KL
Theories abound about the song’s meaning. Some say it is about a man calling to God for help on the eve of his execution. WK Others claim it is about Mercury’s attempt to break away from a lover after his first gay encounter. WK It has also been suggested that the lyrics have no meaning; they were just written to fit the music. WK Lead singer Freddie Mercury never did explain it, only saying that it was a about relationships. The band still protects the song’s secret. WK
When record execs wouldn’t release it, Mercury gave a copy to a DJ friend. This prompted fans to try to buy the non-existing single, which finally led to its release. WK It went top 10 in the U.S. and topped the British charts with more than a million sales. MG
The song was so complicated to play live that the band shot a promo clip which has come to be considered instrumental in the dawning of the video era. KL
In the wake of Mercury’s death in 1991 and inclusion in the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, the song re-charted, peaking at #2 in the U.S. In the U.K., it topped the charts again – the only song to ever do so – giving it a total of 14 weeks on top. It also sold another million copies. MG
- featured in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era 1954-1999
- one of the top 1000 songs of all time
- DMDB song of the year
- top 100 classic rock songs of all time
- one of the top 100 songs of the 1970s
- Grammy Hall of Fame
- Mojo Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
- Q Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
- Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
- Virgin Radio – Top 100 Songs
- one of the top 100 videos of all time
Resources and Related Links:
- the DMDB page for “Bohemian Rhapsody”
- Queen’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 208.
- KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 216.
- MG Theo Morgan-Gan (year?). “The UK’s Best Selling Singles”
- RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
- TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 154.
- WK Wikipedia.org