“Bohemian Rhapsody” was the song that changed everything, a song that resonates through time, a special moment in music history that has yet to be repeated. At The Q Awards yesterday, Queen were presented with the Classic Single Award, marking the 40th anniversary of song which was originally released on October 31, 1975.
To mark the occasion for the first time ever, “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be released on 12-inch black vinyl with the original B-side, “I’m In Love With My Car,” on November 27. Alongside this, Queen: A Night at the Odeon, Live at Hammersmith ’75 , is set for release on CD (Hollywood Records), DVD & Blu-Ray (Eagle Rock Entertainment). This show was a culmination of the 26-date ‘Queen Invite You to a Night at the Opera’ U.K. tour and the first tour that they had ever performed “Bohemian Rhapsody” on.
The CD, DVD & Blu-Ray package features the band’s full live show, complete with a never heard before “second encore” of “Seven Seas of Rhye” and “See What a Fool I've Been.” The DVD and SD Blu-Ray versions also contain two special bonus features: “Looking Back at the Odeon,” a brand-new 22-minute documentary featuring a previously unseen interview with Brian May and Roger Taylor by Old Grey Whistle Test presenter Bob Harris about the 1975 Hammersmith Odeon show, plus the rarely seen Live at the Budokan – Japan 1975 footage, featuring three songs (“Now I'm Here,” “Killer Queen” and “In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited”) recorded during their legendary tour of the Far East.
Spirits were high within the band for this show; “Bohemian Rhapsody”—universally hailed as one of the most ground-breaking pop songs ever released—was in the middle of its record-breaking nine week run at Number One in the U.K. charts. Their fourth album, A Night at the Opera (the most expensive record ever made to that point) was climbing the album charts on its way to No 1, which it achieved three days after this concert.
With over 6.5 million copies sold worldwide, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of the world’s most well known and well loved songs. To this day, it continues to top ‘favorite song’ opinion polls and be discovered by new generations of music fans over and over again. Freddie wrote the whole song – including the composite harmonies – on telephone books and scraps of paper.
Brian May recalled recording “Bohemian Rhapsody”; “That was a great moment, but the biggest thrill for us was actually creating the music in the first place. I remember Freddie coming in with loads of bits of paper from his dad's work, like Post-it notes, and pounding on the piano. He played the piano like most people play the drums. And this song he had was full of gaps where he explained that something operatic would happen here and so on. He'd worked out the harmonies in his head."
Queen Performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a Medley with “Killer Queen”
and “March of the Black Queen” at the Odeon
Queen spent days overdubbing the vocals in the studio using a 24 track tape machine. By the time they were done, about 120 vocal tracks were layered together. The opera parts alone took longer than 70 hours to complete. At the time, it was the most expensive single ever made and upon presenting it to their record label, they were told by various executives that 5 minutes 55 seconds was too long and the song would never be a hit.
But after the song was played by DJ and friend of Freddie, Kenny Everett, 14 times in two days before its official release, the song was only ever destined to be a hit. Hordes of fans attempted to buy the single only to be told by record stores that it had not yet been released. Over in the U.S., it was the same. American radio RKO managed to get a copy of the tape and started to play it in across their network, which forced the hand of Queen's U.S. label to release the song in its entirety.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was Queen's first-ever Number 1 single and the 1975 U.K. Christmas number one, holding the top position for nine weeks. It is the first song ever to get to number one in the U.K. twice with the same version, and is also the only single to have been Christmas number one twice with the same version. The second was upon its re-release (as a double A-side single with “These Are the Days of Our Lives”) in 1991 following Mercury's death, staying at number one for five weeks, eventually becoming the U.K.’s third best-selling single of all time.
The single has sold in excess of 6.5 million copies worldwide and has been covered by everyone from Kayne West during his 2015 controversial Glastonbury headline slot, Axl Rose, Elton John and Pink to the Flaming Lips and Elaine Paige and forever immortalized again by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in the smash hit 90s film Wayne’s World.
A Night at the Odeon Trailer
Queen: A Night at the Odeon, Live at Hammersmith ’75 is available for preorder in its many formats.
Queen: A Night at the Odeon, Live at Hammersmith ’75
Full Track Listing (CD/Vinyl/Digital)
1. Now I'm Here
2. Ogre Battle
3. White Queen (As It Began)
4. Bohemian Rhapsody
5. Killer Queen
6. The March Of The Black Queen
7. Bohemian Rhapsody (Reprise)
8. Bring Back That Leroy Brown
9. Brighton Rock
10. Guitar Solo
11. Son And Daughter
12. Keep Yourself Alive
14. In The Lap Of The Gods... Revisited
15. Big Spender
16. Jailhouse Rock Medley
17. Seven Seas Of Rhye
18. See What A Fool I've Been
19. God Save The Queen
*DVD and SD Blu-ray formats do not include Seven Seas Of Rhye or See What A Fool I've Been.