The Story Behind The Song "Bohemian Rhapsody"

By | February 20, 2022

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From left to right, musicians John Deacon and Freddie Mercury (1946 - 1991) of the British rock band Queen perform in concert at the Forum on July 9, 1980 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) From left t

When Freddie Mercury was a student at Ealing Art College in the late ‘60s, he wrote down some ideas for a song on scraps of paper; his friend, Chris Smith, has stated that Mercury played parts of songs he was writing. One of those pieces was known as “The Cowboy Song,” and it had lyrics that found their way into “Bohemian Rhapsody,” specifically the line “Mama…just killed a man.” In the 1970s, he shared the bits and pieces with his bandmates, drumming on the piano keys and explaining what he would insert into the gaps. He told his bandmates that he thought he had enough for three songs but was considering combining it all to create a single long song. And that is what he did, creating a six-minute suite which is divided into several sections, including a ballad segment, a hard rock portion, an operatic passage, and the final, dark coda.

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Queen in New Haven, CT in November, 1977. Source: (Carl Lender/Wikipedia).

Before Recording Began

Queen guitarist Brian May has said that much of Queen’s music was written in the studio, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” was an exception as it “was all in Freddie’s mind” before recording started. In mid-1975, Queen rehearsed the song for the first time at Ridge Farm Studio in Surrey for a month; afterward, they spent three weeks perfecting it at Penrhos Court in Hertfordshire. They started to record it on August 24, 1975, at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, but they also used four additional studios: Roundhouse, Sarm Studios, Scorpio Sound, and Wessex Sound Studios.