The Story Behind The Song "Bohemian Rhapsody"

By Linda Speckhals
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.