Music History

It Was 40 Years Ago Today That Queen Released “Bohemian Rhapsody”

I remember exactly what I was doing the first time Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on the radio (the story here). The song was so unbelievably weird in the context of the times that it was initially treated as a goofy novelty song. How wrong we were.

It was 40 years ago today–November 5, 1975–that the track was issued as a single. Guitarist Brian May talked to Rolling Stone about the making of the song and what happened afterwards.

When you were recording “Bohemian Rhapsody,” did you have any idea what a big deal it was going to be?
I don’t think anybody thought that. We were just thinking, “This is fun, this is interesting, this’ll be something that people enjoy.” Freddie [Mercury] wrote it. Of course we all interacted, we all contributed bits and pieces and argued as we always did, but it was Freddie’s baby and everyone respected that in the end.

We had an unwritten law that whoever brought the song in would have the final say in how it turned out. But we weren’t that shocked, because we were used to that way of working and we’d done things like “My Fairy King” on the first album, and lots of complexity on Queen II, so it wasn’t unusual for Freddie to come in and have this rather baroque-sounding backing track and wondering what was going to go on top. Probably the most unusual thing was, John [Deacon] said to him, “What are you going to call it then, is it called ‘Mama?'” And Freddie went, “No, I think we’ll call it ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.'” And there was a little silence, everybody thought, “Okaaay…” I don’t think anybody said, “Why?” but there it was. How strange to call a song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but it just suits it down to the ground and it became a milestone. But nobody knew.


Continue reading. And let’s listen one more time with Wayne and Garth.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38403 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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