Friday, April 23, 2021

Queen broke new ground with 1975 masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen broke new ground in the music industry when they created their 1975 masterpiece, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The lead single from “A Night At The Opera” was written by Freddie Mercury, who oversaw the complex song’s full creation in the studio during three weeks of recording.

Mixing elements of progressive rock, hard rock and opera and coming in at almost six minutes in length, the tune was initially considered too long by band management and music industry insiders to be issued as a single in an era when three minutes was considered the standard.

According to legend, the band “leaked” the song to some influential radio hosts, which left fans searching record stores ahead of its eventual release, where it went on to top the UK singles chart for 9 consecutive weeks while earning No.1 status in several countries.

Prior to heading out on the road in support of their fourth studio album, Queen filmed a video that would be offered to media to promote the song while they were on tour; directed by Bruce Gowers and costing just £4500, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” clip is widely regarded to have given birth to the practice of creating music videos to boost sales, even though they had been previously done by artists for years.

“It’s the first video that actually took any kind of effect into actually making sales,” explained Mercury in the latest episode of the band’s weekly feature, “The Greatest.” “A lot of videos were probably made before, but they didn’t sell records. I think that’s the first that actually worked.”

“We used an outside broadcast sports unit to bring in their cameras into Elstree (Studios) where we were rehearsing,”
recalled Roger Taylor. “And we could go on the road and that (video) could be on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and we realized ‘wow you don’t even have to be here to promote your record now’…just make one of these little video films and that’s got to be the way in the future. We were the first to do that.”

“To be honest,”
admitted Brian May, “we weren’t too keen on going on ’Top Of The Pops’ and standing on those little podiums and kind of miming ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ It would have been really crap.”

“Bohemian Rhapsody” went on to become the only song to sell over a million copies on two occasions in the UK, is the most-streamed song of the 20th Century, and in March 2021 reached the extremely rare RIAA Diamond status in the US, making Queen the first British band ever to earn this award … while the promo became the first pre-1990’s music video to pass the 1 billion views milestone on YouTube.

The song’s life was extended when it became the title of Queen’s 2018 biopic; directed by Dexter Fletcher, the film – which follows Queen from their formation in 1970 through to their legendary 1985 Live Aid appearance – won four Academy Awards including Best Actor to Rami Malek for his portrayal of Mercury, and earned more than $900 million dollars at the box office to become the highest-grossing music biopic in history.

See also:

Queen thrive under pressure to make 1975 classic A Night At The Opera
Queen revisit 1974 Sheer Heart Attack European tour
Queen score first global hit with 1974’s Killer Queen
Queen revisit landmark 1974 Rainbow concerts
Search Queen at hennemusic