BEHIND THE SONGS – BLOG 14

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – QUEEN

Released under controversial circumstances as the first single from Queen’s fourth album “A Night At The Opera”, Bohemian Rhapsody spent nine consecutive weeks at number on the UK charts at the end of 1975. However, the song faced stiff opposition from both Queen’s record companies , Elecktra in the UK and EMI in the USA, who both initially refused to release the song as single citing it’s length of 5 minutes and 55 seconds as being to long to garnish radio airplay.

The band decided to bypass this corporate decision by sending a copy of the song to Capitol Radio DJ Kenny Everett. He was impressed and played the full song on his radio show 14 times in two days. Hordes of fans attempted to buy the single the following Monday , only to be told that it hadn’t been released. This forced the hand of both Electra and EMI to release the full unedited single in October 1975. By Christmas 1975 “Bohemian Rhapsody” held the top position in the UK singles charts and number nine in the States.

Bohemian Rhapsody, written entirely by Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury, became a more accessible take on the 1970’s “progressive rock” genre. The song itself consists of several sections without a chorus : an intro, a ballad section, an operatic passage, a hard rock part and a reflective finish.

The single was accompanied by a promotional video, which rock experts consider as ground-breaking. Rolling Stone magazine stated that ” it’s influence cannot be overstated, practically inventing the music video seven years before MTV went on the air”.

Bohemian Rhapsody reached number one again 1991 for another five weeks when the same version was re-released following Mercury’s death in 1991, eventually becoming the UK’s third best selling single of all time.

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