Music-versary: Queen released Bohemian Rhapsody on October 31, 1975

Queen Bohemian RhapsodyCredits: Written and composed by Freddie Mercury, performed by Queen (Freddie Mercury: Vocals, piano, guitar; Brian May: vocals, guitar; John Deacon: vocals, bass; Roger Taylor: vocals, drums)

Album: A Night at the Opera (Released November 21, 1975)

Backstory: When the single first hit record stores Halloween day 1975, nothing like it had ever been heard before. Four minutes of harmonized falsetto ballad, searing guitar solo and full-on opera, followed by a breakdown into hard rock that could have single-handedly invented headbanging, had Led Zeppelin fans not already had the idea a few years before. Recorded during the late summer of 1975, the song was written partially in the studio, but included a large amount of material that had been bouncing around Freddie Mercury’s head since the 1960s. (For example, the “Mama, I killed a man” section early in the song was part of what Mercury called “The Cowboy Song,” something he would often belt when playing around on a piano.) Production was just as elaborate as the song: the band practiced for three weeks leading up to the recording session, going through their vocal parts for as many as 12 hours a day. Four separate recording studios were used, and on parts of the song, as many as 180 vocal overlays are used. The only thing that was even partially straightforward was the promotional video—which has been parodied by everyone from a foursome of moms to the Muppets—that was shot over four days for roughly $10,000.

Party On, Freddie: After superfan Mike Myers filmed the iconic lip-syncing-in-a-car scene for 1992’s Wayne’s World, he was eager to get the band’s approval. As Queen guitarist Brian May recently revealed to Rolling Stone, the singer, who was dying from AIDS complications, was more than happy to lend the song: “Mike Myers phoned me up and said, “We’ve got this thing which we think is great, do you want to hear it?’” he said. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘Do you think Freddie would want to hear it?’ Now Freddie was really sick by that time but I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sure he will.’ Mike gave me a tape which I took ’round to Freddie and played to him and Freddie loved it, he just laughed and thought it was great, this little video.” The Queen cameo brought the song back onto the charts, where it peaked at number 2.

From the Hosts:”I was 15 in 1975 when Bohemian Rhapsody came out,” 70s on 7 host Jaybeau Jones tells us. “The first time you heard it, it seemed like there was nothing on the radio like it. It started as a soft ballad, then went into a hard pop rock sound and then back into a ballad. The closest song that resembeled this structure was 1971’s Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. I also recall thinking that this was the first song I had ever heard that was not an instrumental that did not say the name of the song in the song itself. Also I never heard a pop song that wove in opera.”

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