Apr 08

QUEEN – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

FT + Popular148 comments • 8,628 views

#382, 29th November 1975

There is a pub in North London called The Swimmer At The Grafton Arms. It prides itself on well-kept beer and a well-kept jukebox, the latter with an deeply tasteful selection of fine rock and soul music. I haven’t visited for a couple of years, but it used to have, on this jukebox, a Queen Greatest Hits CD. And next to Track One on this CD, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, was the handwritten instruction: “DO NOT PLAY. NOT FUNNY.”

For me, that kind of sums up “Bohemian Rhapsody”‘s very weird place in rock music. It is known by millions, loved by millions, but somehow still not quite….respectable. In everyhit.com’s aggregate of recent public polls for the greatest single of all time, “Bo Rhap” (how many other singles have a nickname!?)  tops the listing. In acclaimedmusic.com’s similar exercise looking at critic’s choices, “Rhapsody” is 68th. One gets the feeling it’s barged its way in by sheer gumption, that critics don’t really know what to do with it: perhaps, like the Swimmer’s serious-minded selectors, they simply don’t trust it or the people who like it.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to do with it either. If tastemakers think it’s a vulgar record, well, that’s because it is: it’s a preposterous sandwich of styles, all of which are (for now, at least) woefully uncool- overwrought balladry leads into an axe solo leads into light opera of all things ending up at rumbustious cock-rock. But actually it seems harder than ever to find people who don’t like “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I know I used not to like it. When it was number one for the second time I was 18 and I hated it: I thought I was superior to it, though I can’t recapture why. I thought it was garish and phoney. I thought its “path-breaking” video was boring as hell. (I still think that bit.) I resented how it won all those sodding polls: I couldn’t have articulated it, but I didn’t want pop’s pinnacle to be something so… atypical!

Nowadays I like it a lot more: time to meet it head-on and ask why.

One of the reasons it’s easy to feel goodwill to “Bohemian Rhapsody” is that it’s a record that perfectly sums up the strengths of the band who made it: someone on Poptimists described it as a six-minute Queen best-of, and that’s very apt. The theatricality, the sentiment, the eye for pastiche, the blood and thunder – all here. The sometime glory of Queen is that they managed to be at once the most self-conscious and unself-conscious band ever. (It’s called “acting”. Or maybe “panto”.)

Then there’s the structure. Multi-part songs often do very well, attract perhaps more acclaim than the sections (or whole) might actually merit, just because it seems like an ambitious thing to be doing. The second side of Abbey Road, for instance, apparently becomes art not scrapbooking simply because there are no gaps between the tracks. The spatchcocked construction of “Bohemian Rhapsody” doesn’t make much logical sense but importantly every section is excellent: nothing here feels like it’s marking time or pressed into use, its six minutes are remarkably fat-free.

You might reasonably ask what it’s all for – whether or not I believe the supposed explanations about souls and damnation and redemption, “Bohemian Rhapsody” doesn’t carry much emotional weight for me. It’s all about the rush and audacity, which is why the comic opera section, with its crazy vocal rhythms and whack-a-mole “Galileo!”s, is my favourite bit. Ultimately all I can do is invert the Swimmer’s well-meant but irritating instruction: “FUNNY. PLAY.”



  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 17 Apr 2008 #

    The thing that I’m never sure about with Queen is how seriously anybody ever took them, even their fans. Did anybody listen to this – as I imagine people listened to Yes, say – concentrating on it as a three part work of depth that explored the notion of mortality, through a tripych tale about a character facing the death penalty, or whatever happens in this song? Or was it always just a joke, a bit of fun for everybody?

    I was certainly a bit disappointed when I first read that the book for the Queen musical was to be written by Ben Elton. Surely, the vainglory of that I could sort of here in the songs would have been better realised by Peter Shaffer.

    I don’t mind this single, but like ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, its another one that I never need to hear again.

  2. 2
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I have a horribly stereotypical view of Queen as the sort of band who attracted rabidly serious European fans who would fill fanzines full of analyses of Radio Ga Ga in broken english.

    This impression makes me like them more obviously.

  3. 3
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” made me instantly happy, as I felt it marked a return to the ornate, baroque, fastidious second-side-of-Queen II era that I loved, as opposed to the worryingly banal cock-rock diversions of Sheer Heart Attack. We’d been here before with “The March Of The Black Queen”, but this felt like an upgrade: the ultimate fusion of Mercury’s grandiose romantic/operatic tendencies and May’s elegantly pristine riffing-at-one-remove.

    Perhaps the similarly episodic, dramatic, lavish, prog-tinged “Space Oddity” had helped to make room for it, but there seemed to be an immediate and across-the-board acceptance of BR’s lavish boundary-stretching. There were no “O Superman” WTF dissenters to be found here. And given the length of its stay, as further expanded by the traditional slowing down of the Christmas chart, we had the time to get to know it, week after week at the end of TOTP, savouring all the details to the point of mass familiarity.

    All of which proved a great boon to me over the next two or three months, as I shivered and shook on the wind-lashed rugby fields of Cambridge, wishing myself elsewhere. “Three more Bohemian Rhapsodys and I’ll be back in the changing room”, I would mutter to myself, re-cueing the track in my mental jukebox. There’s nothing like episodic prog-pop for passing the time…

  4. 4
    Andrew Farrell on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I know that for me and my friends, a lot of its return to popularity is directly due to That Scene in Wayne’s World.

  5. 5
    jeff w on 17 Apr 2008 #

    This was number 1 for two months in 75-76 and boy did I hear it a lot on the radio at the time. (In fact, it got to the point where radio would more often than not spin an edited version of the single that considerably shortened the ‘ROXOR’ section – cutting all of the “So you can think you can stop me” verse – something that would probably be considered sacrilege these days. It certainly bugged me at the time).

    I say this because I can’t ever remember a time when I’ve been fed up of hearing this song, even at its most ubiquitous. And yes, I think it is the ‘fat free’ element that is the key here. If you don’t like this bit, there’s a completely different “good bit” coming along in a moment.

    We were discussing good parodies on the “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” thread. There’s a great Christmas-themed appropriation of “BoRhap” by Pledge Drive, that I discovered a couple of years ago and which I always play every wobs now.

  6. 6
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I still hated it at that point though I did think it worked well in the fillum. I think actually the turning point for me was ILX karaoke at the King Of Corsica (a performance horribly captured on MP3)

    I’ll probably talk a bit more about my own personal history with BR when it comes up again: it was #1 at an enormously significant time for me.

  7. 7
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I have deliberately not looked at the above comments, but the following is a continuation of another story and I’ll try working my way back…

    So, the end of 1975, and maybe the end of quite a lot of things and the concomitant beginning of a lot of others. I was nearly twelve and for me it was Patti and Freddie.

    In August of that year I started at Uddingston Grammar School and by December I still wasn’t getting used to it; the uprooting from uncomplicated childhood and all the other dread-inspiring factors which I have previously mentioned – above all, the gradually chilling feeling that in some way I now had to “knuckle down” and begin preparing myself for this chimera called the “real world.” It didn’t help that, thanks to the Hamilton Advertiser’s reminder, I arrived at the Grammar as something of a “celebrity,” the supposed child prodigy, although most of the people in my various classes were as smart or markedly smarter than me. It took a while to settle and it was painful.

    I decided that I wasn’t much taken with this notion of the “real world” and hence kept drifting mentally – the reluctant schoolboy with Saturday morning satchel westering to his spiritual home in Kelvingrove – into the realms of art and fantasy and fascination; and sexual awakening was a major part of that. Rather unbelievably, I was liked, and maybe even fancied, by quite a lot of the girls in my year, but I could never tell whether they were mocking me or being genuine; I kneejerkedly assumed the former and thus did they quickly retreat – although my dad had already warned me off having a “girlfriend” since I was supposed to study until my brain and fingers bled and woe betide me if I didn’t come top of the year, let alone the class.

    Then again, I have to admit that I wasn’t very attracted to the girls in my year on a deep (i.e. meaningful) level – what I did have by the dozen were teacher crushes; the women who taught me (I had plenty of male teachers too, of course, but there was no danger of any crushes developing there) seemed much wiser, much more open to speaking with me of uncommon things, far more interesting, worldly, enticing. The best of them made me feel like an equal, and even though that was more likely to be flattery than anything else, I still found it extremely touching.

    Meanwhile I would creep home, my head full of Ornette Coleman and Alex Harvey and Marvel Comics (especially the Steve Gerber ones), Gollancz’s Science Fiction Argosy and The Dice Man, and wondered how best to get the world I saw from my bedroom window to fit, or accommodate, the far brighter world I was seeing inwardly.

    Then came Horses.

    I read CSM’s NME rave, sniggered at Steve Lake’s pissed off Jazz Journal oldster MM debunking and I pestered my dad to buy it for me (I did not get full-scale pocket money until I was allowed or trusted to go into town myself, towards the end of 1976); in order to shut me up we went into HMV in Union Street and I saw the Mapplethorpe monochrome, the shirt and tie and fuck you (if only) pose, and I was immediately in love. Since when was a record supposed to start with “Jesus died for somebody’s sins…but not mine” (in a village like Uddingston where being a True Son of the Parish is pretty crucial, this really was akin to shouting the F-word over and over in the middle of Sunday morning mass)? And it only got better; not quite singing, not quite talking but those WORDS, those EXPRESSIONS just spilling out like I wanted to spill out and suddenly Suzi Quatro and Lynsey de Paul seemed a very long way away indeed, and nine-minute epiphanies, dripping taps turning into the resurrection of rock and roll with the emphasis on the Rimbaud roll and Lenny Kaye – whom at the time I only knew as the American correspondent for Disc and Music Echo – making out like a toytown Sonny Sharrock (which is always the best way to make out Sonny) – and suddenly it was like Ornette and Marvel Comics and Virginia’s waves and Marc Bolan sweeping over me in a glossalia of golden honey and I FELT Patti coming up the stairs, through my door and ACHING for her to do to me what she was doing to the ecstatic Gloria.

    Yes, listening to Horses the first time was the aural equivalent of losing my virginity.

    And then, Freddie, who in his regally womanly splendour summed up to me what I had wanted to sense in the glam icons but couldn’t quite palpate. Childish crushes were one thing – I don’t think I have ever been truly bisexual, since that feeling has markedly not strayed over into my real life with real, touchable people – but I felt in him what I would have felt from ’71 Marc. He seemed like the real thing; all the better for his constantly winking unreality. My wife has rightly pointed out that his teeth might in retrospect make him less fanciable, but I wasn’t too concerned about that at the time; I saw the magnificent flowing locks, the perfect Persian peacock profile and even the satin jumpsuits and my craving to be fucked by Patti and Freddie was pretty much equal bilaterally (and the final denial of actual bisexuality: when Mercury switched to the ‘tache and crew cut, I went off him altogether).

    So my perspective of Queen as they were in 1975 is necessarily biased. Even if I hadn’t fancied Freddie, I still considered their music of the period a flamboyantly brilliant next step from glam, confidently bringing ridicule and art to a satisfactorily messy communion – the art-metal at which the 1970 Bowie groped, but now absolutely clarified and sparkling. No unclouded reader could fail to find treasures in Queen II or Sheer Heart Attack.

    But 1975 was drawing to an end, and with “Bohemian Rhapsody” I feel we can usefully draw a line here – a line which may have begun with those late 1966 vibrations of stirring adventure. The record borrows both style and methodology from Sparks and 10cc (and, slightly less obviously, from the Who and, considerably more obviously, from the Beatles) but the group fuse their resources into something that is uniquely their own.

    I’m not sure how much I actually like “Bohemian Rhapsody” now – as an impressionable eleven-year-old I unsurprisingly adored it, but now it seems more like a compressed six-minute advert for the group: “This is what we do, this is our range – what do you think?” And its parent album A Night At The Opera was noticeably patchier, and straining a little more, than its predecessors. Still, there’s no escape from Queen’s full knowledge of the record’s inbuilt absurdity, with its frankly but gloriously silly murder-trial-sentence scenario – nor from the unexpected poignancy with which it ends; Mercury’s concluding sighs of “nothing really matters…to me” seems the ultimate, if regret-filled, rebuttal of the vision which “Whiter Shade Of Pale” purported to show and I think “Bohemian Rhapsody” not just the natural climax of glam rock – and also its end, since whither to go from here? – but also the natural end of a chapter in pop, a chapter which started in 1966-7 when everything still seemed possible, when you could record abstract six-minute multisectional pop singles and still get away with it – the record is like a final, proud dying fall. The last “any way the wind blows” and mournfully authoritative, echoing gong convey their own warning; the times are going to change, a colder wind is making its way into the world, and although there will continue to be great number ones – not least “Bohemian Rhapsody”’s successor – there was the undertow that we will never be able to agree on anything again like we did with “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the rueful realisation that, in a lot of ways, from hereonin, we’re on our own now, hurtling minutely back towards the “real world.”

  8. 8
    Erithian on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I’ve really been looking forward to this thread!

    They do say the opposite of love is not hate but indifference – love it or hate it, you can’t ignore Bo Rhap. When I held a poll in our office to commemorate the 1000th UK Number 1, it placed third in the poll for “best No 1 of all time” (behind “House of the Rising Sun” and surprisingly “Town Called Malice”) and also fifth in the poll for “worst No 1 of all time” (tucked in between “Millennium Prayer” and “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool”)! It’s safe to say it divides opinion.

    I’m firmly in the “pro” camp and yes I’m one of those people who keeps putting it top of all those polls. Quite simply, my life seemed to revolve around this record for three months or so. The first time I heard it was in a car en route to relatives’ in Yorkshire, and on a tinny radio competing with surface noise from the M62 I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. But I trusted the Queen brand by then – after “Now I’m Here”, their previous single, I’d got the “Sheer Heart Attack” album for my 13th birthday – and so the second time I heard it was after I’d bought it. And the near-worship started from there! I jumped around the room when it reached No 1 – its previous placings of 47-17-9 suggested it would slow down towards the middle of the top ten. On Christmas Eve they played the traditional seasonal Whistle Test gig on BBC2, and midway through that (you could be this exact about things at 13) I thought, move over Sweet, this is my new favourite band. (Sweet would probably never have forgiven me – they thought the rock bit was lifted from “Action” in the first place.) Within a month of Christmas I had their entire back catalogue.

    For its scale, its scope and its coherence, this is a masterpiece. I’m always puzzled at people who wonder what the hell it’s about. At school we had it sussed straight away: a man on death row writes his last letter home, falls asleep and dreams of demons fighting over his soul, is woken by the hangman, resists for a while then accepts his fate and swings in the wind. So I can’t agree about the “spatchcocked construction” – for me it all makes sense, as though it sprung fully-formed from Freddie Mercury’s imagination and just needed hours of work and dozens of overdubs to bring it to realisation. And every man jack in the band and production team peaked at the same time.

    I’ll leave others to champion the video. It works effectively to deliver the performance, and maybe its groundbreaking aspect was as a deliberate promotional tool for TOTP; but it certainly wasn’t the first video as such – the Stylistics and Rod Stewart are just the most recent acts whose promo films have been discussed on here. I’ll definitely leave others to go and see “We Will Rock You”, as I’ve no intention of doing so. (Elton peaked with Blackadder and it’s been downhill since!) I’ll stick to the records, and this tops the lot.

  9. 9
    Billy Smart on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Xpost #1 : Should read “The vainglory that I could sort of hear in their songs”

    Where’s my brain gone today? It’s been fizzled away by thinking too deeply about pop music for decades…

  10. 10
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Love yr last paragraph Marcello – yes, I can imagine it feeling like that. To use another comics analogy, the last great Pre-Crisis event?

  11. 11
    stevem on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Every now and then I like to bang on about how this song’s re-release in ’91 kept the Prodigy’s ‘Everybody In The Place’ off the top spot in the first weeks of January ’92 – and we’d get to hear it the rest of that year after it’s insertion into Wayne’s World. But despite all this I always saw what there was to like about it and I did even though it is very much in that ‘never need to hear this ever again’ set of famous chart toppers.

  12. 12
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    When it comes up again? Tom, whatever do you mean? Don’t make Spoiler Bunny cry.

    For the previous two and a half years, I had been relying on the mono Bush gramophone that had been intended to cheer me up, after my mother walked out on us. But on Christmas Day 1975, my father gave me one of the Best! Presents Ever!

    That first hi-fi system was the perfect vehicle for my two newest album purchases: Kraftwerk’s Autobahn and Queen’s A Night At The Opera, where I discovered that, wow, “little high” came out of one speaker and “little low” came out of the other, man this shit was BLOWING MY MIND. And in a rare example of normal socialised beahviour, friends would come round to our house to share the magic, and we would sit reverently on my bed, gasping at Bo Rhap’s wondrousness and the whooshy stereoscopic NYOWWM-NYOWWM bits on Kraftwerk’s full-length title track.

    All this “wow, feel the sumptuousness of the production” stuff was an undeniable novelty, but also a tender trap. In which case, the seismic paradigm shifts of the second half of the new year couldn’t come a moment too soon…

  13. 13
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Erithian – “spatchcocked” wasn’t meant to be about the storyline in Bo Rhap, more the “this is our range” thing Marcello is talking about: there doesn’t seem to be any special reason why the devils section shd be comic opera or why it should follow a guitar solo or whatever, which isn’t to say the clash of styles doesn’t work, because it does.

    I did a little poll on LJ a couple of days ago about this song and asked “what’s it about”: responders were pretty fairly split between some variation of the death-and-demons story and “dunno mate”.

  14. 14
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    The video was mostly done out of necessity – Queen were on tour at the time and therefore couldn’t appear on TOTP but presumably were also worried about the challenge of how to reproduce the choral section visually. I remember seeing them at the Glasgow Apollo not long afterwards and they trooped off stage and just had the section played on tape to the accompaniment of some disappointed groans.

  15. 15
    Billy Smart on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, its funny how in the eighties – when this wasn’t quite as all-pervasive a song as it is now – and I was about twelve or thirteen, when I listened to this on one of those Capital Radio polls of best songs ever (it was probably either this or ‘Stairway To Heaven’ that won) I immediately got the narrative. I was probably an over-serious child, prepared to take things that had an aurra of importance as being inherantly important.

    And now I’m middle-aged and have heard it (involuntarily) a thousand times, I can’t really be bothered to listen to it properly.

  16. 16
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I think in the 80s it was best known for the video actually!

    What’s Stairway To Heaven about then?

  17. 17
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I wonder how many weeks that would have spent at the top if Zep had had the gumption to release it, uncut, as a single in ’71?

  18. 18
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    The strangest aspect of that Whistle Test Christmas Eve gig (was it at The Rainbow?) was that, “BR” aside, nothing else from the just-released A Night At The Opera was performed – as if we weren’t yet ready for it, or something. I taped it off the telly using the external mike of my cassette (eventually upgrading it to the simultaneous FM recording, as purchased from one of the cool older bootleg merchants at school), and played it so much that even to this day, some of Freddie’s slight on-stage variations on the melody remain in my memory.

  19. 19
    Rob M on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Personal memory time again. Having completely blanked out the previous two number ones from my memory of the time – I can’t have watched TOTP for a month, perhaps – this song’s stay at number one, and hence appearance at the end of TOTP every Thursday night, filled me with dread. Why? Because I hated the video. I was only six, all those superimposed faces during the operatic section seriously freaked me out, and I probably had nightmares about it at the time. As for the song, the closest thing I’d heard to it was Sparks, and that wasn’t as operatic as this was.

    But still, the most redolent memory of the song is that I was opening my Christmas presents with this song in the background on the Xmas TOTP. I had a rather brilliant Matchbox cars box that year, like a suitcase of cars, and whenever I hear Bo Rap I always think of that suitcase of cars, and vice versa.

  20. 20
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Statistically, “Bohemian Rhapsody”‘s nine-week stint at number one was the longest run of any number one single since Paul Anka’s “Diana” in 1957.

    The four singles it managed to hold at number two were:

    1. “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate (an American number one);

    2. The then 38-year-old “The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine” by Laurel and Hardy with the Avalon Boys featuring Chill Wills (ten points, Dignified Don);

    3. “I Believe In Father Christmas” by Greg Lake (“I thought I had written a surefire Christmas number one – but I was up against the greatest number one ever!”);

    4. “Glass Of Champagne” by Sailor (did someone say “Virginia Plain” and XTC?).

  21. 21
    Billy Smart on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Oh, its a real privilege to be able to read bits of your autobiography-in-progress, Marcello. Its really good and worthwhile

    Move over, Nick Hornby! Heh heh!

    It’ll be fun anticipating which number ones will inspire further extracts…

  22. 22
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Statistically “Bohemian Rhapsody”’s nine-week stint at the top was the longest run of any number one single since Paul Anka’s “Diana.”

    The four singles it kept at number two were as follows:

    1. “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate (an American number one);

    2. The then 38-year-old “The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine” by Laurel and Hardy with the Avalon Boys featuring Chill Wills (ten points, Dignified Don?);

    3. “I Believe In Father Christmas” by Greg Lake (“I thought I had written a surefire Christmas number one! But it was up against the greatest number one EVER! Just my luck”);

    4. “Glass Of Champagne” by Sailor (did somebody say “Virginia Plain” and/or XTC?).

  23. 23
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, comment #7 is one of your classics, MC. Much to agree on, both in terms of “BR” closing a chapter (funny how some Xmas #1s have the ability to do that, see also Slade two years earlier) and – more personally, and fascinatingly – in terms of it representing something of a desperate clinging on to a vanishing fantasy world.

  24. 24
    CarsmileSteve on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Tom @ 13: it’s about whether the devil has got a sideboard…

    I did have quite a large queen phase in my early teenage years (sparked, i think, by *that* performance at live aid), but that was a good ten years after this. i can, i think, still sing all of Greatest Hits in order having almost worn the tape away…

  25. 25
    Dan R on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Re #1, Billy, I think there were serious Queen fans. Or at least there were at my school; in the early eighties I got threatened with violence for suggesting that Freddie Mercury might be gay. The would-be assailant was a serious metalhead and seemed to treat Queen as every bit humourlessly hard ‘n’ heavy as the the rest of his favourites. I wonder if it was the video for ‘I Want to Break Free’ that turned them decisively into cuddly campy favourites rather than hard rockers? (And Billy, #15, you’re not middle-aged. I’M middle aged…)

    I’ve never really loved this song, though, as other posters have said, the head-banging moment in Wayne’s World did make me warm to the ‘third act’ of the song. I was too young to get a sense of a wider cultural mood so I am intrigued and rather moved by Marcello’s suggestion that this was the swansong of both glam and a more chart-oriented prog. Though I wonder: just because this DID reach number one and lodged there for two solid months, does that mean it COULD? Which is to say: was there really a widespread feeling at the time that you could release six-minute records, or is this a one-off? I seem to remember reading somewhere that the band had a battle with their label to get the thing released as a single, having to face down the obvious argument that the radio won’t play it.

    Queen have the reputation of pomposity, which I think is justified, but this single is often brought out as exhibit A, which I think is unfair. Somewhat like the previous inhabitant of the #1 slot, this doesn’t seem to me to pretend to be any more significant than it is. The middle section is so preposterous as to be witty, rather than grand. As Tom says, light opera, not Wagner.

  26. 26
    rosie on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Damn, I’ve missed the boat!

    That might be just as well, because I’ve been looking forward to this moment for ages now. Am I right too, Tom, in thinking that the recent flurry of entries has bee, at least in part, a headlong rush towards it?

    Anyway, I half expected it to get a 10. I also half expected it to get a 1. I could have understood either. What I couldn’t work out was whether any score in between would have any real meaning.

    For Bo Rhap – yes, no other pop song is instantly recognisable even to people who won’t be born for a long time yet by an abbreviation – is a unique artefact and while it was never ‘cool’ and never will be, the charts had seen nothing like it and never would. It is to pop what Der Ring des Nibelungen is to opera, the more so as this more than anything else in pop follows the Wagnerian precept of welding narrative, music and performance into a seamless whole. (As with Der Ring, the narrative really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny on its own either.)

    Dan – how could anybody not see that Queen were quite outrageously camp? The theatricality of everything they did, for goodness sake, they could never have been mistaken for another thrash outfit! And the whole of A Night At The Opera is reeking with gay references!

    I saw Queen at the Mountford Hall in Liverpool a year or so earlier, before they were well known, and it was blatantly obvious that this was something that was going to shake the world. I went home with my head reeling and Mercury’s quite extraordinary voice ringing in my ear. And boy, could that man sing. Not in the way that a good rock singer can sing, but a real operatic voice that set the spine tingling. The event was an orgasm and an adrenalin pyrotechnic display.

    One thing always strikes me about Bo Rhap: is it really only six minutes long? Somehow it feels much longer; not from tedium, but from the sheer volume of energy that it expresses. I can’t ever tire of it.

    Denis Forman’s Good Opera Guide, which is the sort of book I’d recommend to a new opera convert after I’ve blown away their prejudices by taking them to see Tosca, rates operas on a simple alpha-beta-gamma scale, but he cops out on Der Ring by giving it X for Xtraordinary and Xceptional, and that’s all I can think of to give Bo Rhap.

  27. 27
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    As Erithian hinted on the David Essex thread, “BR” did inspire (or at least open the door to) a short run of similarly grandiose/episodic chart hits, the two which spring to mind being John Miles “Music” and David Essex “City Lights”.

    Back to MC’s #7: As with Starman on TOTP, Freddie evoked not a flicker of recognition, nor of desire. In a reversal of MC’s position, it took the crew-cut and the ‘tache to do that. Proper Gay me, evidently!

  28. 28
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Rosie: The flurry of entries might be a subconscious headlong rush towards SOMETHING, but it’s more to do with the twin blocks of house-moving and conference-paper-writing finally being out the way, and a general wish to be a bit brisker with Popular! (Though I loved the endless digressions the comments threads threw up when I was posting one a week!)

  29. 29
    Alan on 17 Apr 2008 #

    “Dan – how could anybody not see that Queen were quite outrageously camp? ”

    well obviously. however, it just wasn’t that widely recognised back then in many parts of the world.

  30. 30
    jeff w on 17 Apr 2008 #

    The SOMETHING is more likely in fa- *gets trampled on by spoiler bunny*

  31. 31
    rosie on 17 Apr 2008 #

    But the digressions are the best thing about it…

  32. 32
    Erithian on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, Mike (#25), I was gong to mention “Music” if you didn’t. Another epic, though I think it came out at about the same time, was “Black or White” by Cockney Rebel (or whichever version of the name Harley was using by then). Bo Rhap is something like 5:48 btw, Rosie.

    I wonder how many others have specific Bo Rhap-related Xmas 1975 memories? I too had the Best! Present! Ever! in the form of a new hi-fi, or rather (since we were with the aforementioned Yorkshire rellies) a pair of headphones with a note reading “these are for your new stereo which is waiting for you at home”. Wow!

    Camp: I don’t think it was because we were too young for such thoughts, but the issue of Queen’s campness wasn’t a hot topic at school. But I agree that some of their fans took things too seriously – Record Mirror had a cover in ’76 that was a cartoon of Freddie as a gorilla-like creature in his leotard, and many readers wrote in to protest. Freddie’s own reaction was to ask for the framed original.

    Rosie (#24) – first time I saw them was at Bingley Hall, Stafford in 1977. I remember that instead of calling for an encore, the audience started to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – and the band cited that moment as an influence in the writing of “We Will Rock You”. Funny, I never got a co-writing credit.

  33. 33
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, they’re terrific! But I also realised I was on course to finish the project in 2018 (!!!) at the rate I was going – which is mental. I’m currently working on the basis of trying to get 4 reviews up a week (which would cut the finish line back to about 2012) – there will be times when I get more than this done, and times when I get less. That still allows some pretty long comment threads (and of course there’s no reason for one thread to stop when a new entry gets posted!)

  34. 34
    Simon Miller on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Freddie Mercury … was gay??

  35. 35
    Matthew H on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I’m not sure that I have 1975 memories of this, being a whippersnapper of 3-and-a-half at the time, but it was always around the house. My parents had it on a compilation tape they’d made for an RAF mess party and my mum always loved the Brian May rockout after the quasi-operatics – as did/do I. I still think it’s a great record, and I don’t think I tire of it.

    ‘BoRhap’ is, of course, a profound influence on Flowered Up’s ‘Weekender’.

  36. 36
    Jonathan Bogart on 17 Apr 2008 #

    In the summer of 2000, a busfull of American teenagers driving from Munich to Florence spontaneously sang the entire song from memory far too many times, among whom I may or may not have taken a leading role. Somehow I can’t think that’s an unusual occurrence in the life of the song, though times and places may change.

    Anyway, that memory is far better than anything the actual track itself conjures up — and come to think of it I don’t think I’ve heard the song in going on five or six years. Certainly not on purpose (my favorite Queen tune would be “Killer Queen,” for no particular reason), and it seems less culturally ubiquitous on this side of the pond than it used to be; or maybe I’m just not listening in the right places anymore.

  37. 37
    Billy Smart on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Number 2 watch: 3 weeks of Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’, 2 weeks of Laurel & Hardy’s ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’, 2 weeks of Greg Lake’s ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ and 2 weeks of ‘Glass of Champagne’ by Sailor.

    4 songs which I far prefer to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!

  38. 38
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    As far as I was concerned, Queen had one more album of interest left in them (A Day At The Races), before what I considered to be the shark-jump of News Of The World (whose sleeve alone signalled that the game was over). With the fastidious, fantastical prog-pomp side extinguished in favour of shameless playing to the gallery (or rather the stadium), I loathed the likes of “We Are The Champions”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Bicycle Race” etc etc, and only grudgingly welcomed them back into my affections with “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites The Dust”.

    Favourite BoRhap moments:

    1. The sequence of ascending guitar overdubs that lead you out of the “spit in my eye” section and into the slowing piano which starts the final “nothing really matters” section.

    2. The sighing, twanging, almost Hawaiian guitar figure near the very end.

    3. The way that the central guitar solo breaks down into the simple chords that start the operatic section.

    4. The chaotic choral interplay that climaxes the “Bismillah” section: all those let-me-gos, never-never-no-no-nos.

    5. The riff that kickstarts the “spit in my eye” section.

    6. The tinkling noises that accompany “shivers down my spine”.

    7. The subtle shift of mood and the harmonising of “Open your eyes, look up to the skies…”

    8. The “Waa Waa” that underlines “I’m just a poor boy”.

    9. The slight shudder of pompous Victorian disapproval in the pronounciation of “monstrosity”.

    10. The final gong.

  39. 39
    Alan on 17 Apr 2008 #

    i always cringe at 6 :-D

  40. 40
    CarsmileSteve on 17 Apr 2008 #

    i remember having conversations in 88/89 about the gayness or otherwise of Freddie. SRSLY, a subsection of those northern rock dudes just didn’t get it…

  41. 41
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    It’s worth pointing out that “Bo Rhap”‘s initial nine-week stint at the top was the longest run achieved by any number one since Paul Anka’s “Diana” back in 1957.

  42. 42
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    re. #25: Proper Gay Mike indeed! It didn’t take me too long to realise that I only fancied guys who looked like girls.

    (whereas virtually EVERYONE in my year at school had the distinctly unsexy football-style cut, not quite mullet, not quite Rod, not quite pudding bowl but definitely Hamilton Accies reserve striker level)

  43. 43
    LondonLee on 17 Apr 2008 #

    ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ was the first album I ever bought myself so I was a fan but I really don’t know what I think of this song anymore, it’s like the Mona Lisa and I’d rather look at lesser-known Leonardo paintings and listen to other, simpler Queen tracks like ‘Now I’m Here’ or ‘The Seven Seas of Rhye’. It starts off lovely and the rockin’ end brings out the latent head-banger in me but the middle now seems like too much silly icing. If there was an ‘unplugged’ version you’d hear what a lovely melody it had but all the opera stuff now seems like them crossing the line from enjoyable Pomp to Cecil B. DeMille ridiculousness.

    It does have a great misheard lyric though:

    “Spare him his life from these pork sausages!”

  44. 44
    Alan on 17 Apr 2008 #

    misheard by scottish sock puppets? “spit in my pie”

  45. 45
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Forty-plus posts in and no mention yet of “Bismillah!”?

  46. 46
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I mentioned it once. But I think I got away with it.

  47. 47
    Lena on 17 Apr 2008 #

    When did I first hear the song? – it was probably when the promotional video was shown on tv, late in ’75. Did I see it on a friend’s parents’ color tv? Most likely yes. Did I understand anything about the song at all? No! I was too young (still eight) to understand why it had so many parts (exhausting to listen to, since as soon as I got used to one thing they would change it and I’d have to get used to the new section). I had no knowledge of opera, heavy or light, and the video was impressive but I was under the impression it was almost a one-off, not anything likely to occur again, done almost to show off whatever lense was on the camera. How wrong I was, but I was only eight…

    …but those just older than me – my friend John’s older brother for instance – most certainly did get it. It was a hit in the US as well, though not a #1 – it was kept off by one of these songs (not sure) – “Fly Robin Fly” by Silver Convention, “That’s The Way (I Like It)” by KC and the Sunshine Band, “Let’s Do It Again” by The Staples Singers or, and this would be ironic…”Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers. At the time I most certainly understood these songs as songs much better than Queen, as they were groovy and danceable and in one case virtually demanded an ecstatic response. Queen were more grown-up and for more grown-up people…

  48. 48
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Ah yes, Mike, so you did (xpost).

  49. 49
    LondonLee on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Thinking back I’m pretty sure I preferred the b-side “I’m In Love With My Car”

    Was “You’re My Best Friend” the the follow-up single? Talk about chalk and cheese.

    John Deacon used to come in the Putney WH Smith I worked at quite a bit, always looked so normal. I think Freddie M. lived in Putney too (had a big house up my mates street if I recall) but he was more likely to be seen at Biba than WH Smith.

  50. 50
    Mark M on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I guess in theory Tom that entries might come faster once we reach the period of your actual memories – most of the number ones of the 80s and beyond must lurk in your head, whereas I’m presuming you had to acquaint yourself with the likes of Whispering Grass. Of course you have to revisit them to see what you now think, but that’s a different process.

    I’ve had nil time for Queen (barring one song that can’t be mentioned) since I went off them aged 10 or so, but I am fascinated by the question of what people understood Freddie to be. To me, the gay thing (how much more so could he have been?) is almost secondary to the fact that he was an African-born Asian at the time of the Ugandan Indian arrivals and when weird old Enoch stalked the land, and nobody seemed to clock it all …

  51. 51
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    (I wonder if actual memories might slow them up Mark! I’m not really sure what approach I’m going to take – my autobiography is a fairly undramatic one – I think what I’ll do is critique the song in the post and add inconsequential contextual detail in the comments: where personal context is key to my judgement of a song it’ll be mentioned in the write-up itself.)

  52. 52
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, the Deacon-penned “You’re My Best Friend” was indeed the follow-up. It was also his first recorded composition for the band.

    I’m tempted to contradict Lena by saying that maybe the true music for (relatively) “grown-up” people was KC & the Sunshine Band / Silver Convention / Staples Singers: music for real-life dancing/courting/sex-making in real-life situations, as opposed to sexless proggy fantasticalism for the perennially pubescent….!

  53. 53
    rosie on 17 Apr 2008 #

    I get married in eleven number ones time, and I have to say that almost all of my real-life courting and sex-making up till then took place to a background of ‘proggy rock’ that would make the average punk rocker run gibbering from the room!

  54. 54
    LondonLee on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Sure about that Mike? There’s a Deacon song on ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ – the lovely ‘Misfire’

  55. 55
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    The point is duly and deferentially conceded, Rosie!

    Now then…

    We’d been here before with “The March Of The Black Queen”, but this felt like an upgrade.

    I’d forgotten that when it came to the endings of each track, this was almost literally true, as BoRhap’s “sighing, twanging, almost Hawaiian guitar figure” also features at 5:40 in “TMOTBQ”.

    (This link back to Queen II is also underlined by the re-creation of the album’s cover art at the beginning of the video, of course…)

    There’s an extremely detailed and fascinating examination of this song on Wikipedia, by the way.

  56. 56
    mike on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Oh crikey, “Misfire”, you’re quite right. I shall shut up now!

  57. 57
    Brian on 17 Apr 2008 #

    MC’s comment on a live gig – ” they trooped off stage and just had the section played on tape to the accompaniment of some disappointed groans.”

    And that was the beginning of the end for me. After I saw them live and they pulled this stunt ( I can’t honestly think what else I could have expected ), I have never liked them for not finding away to re-produce this , somehow, live.

  58. 58
    intothefireuk on 17 Apr 2008 #

    Right (cracks knuckles); Having spent the last couple of years immersing myself in Bowie (ooh er missus) I had only thus far glimpsed Queen from afar. I liked Seven Seas, thought Killer Queen ok but, at this stage, preferred Now I’m Here. Then came this. The first time I heard it (prob. Noels Radio 1 morning slot) I was instantly transfixed. It was an outrageous concoction and as has previously been mentioned gave you both Killer Queen & Now I’m Here in one shot (with added operatic silliness). I figured that my school friends would be equally amazed. We had all been raised on pop but some (prob via older siblings) were beginning to venture into the darker waters of rock & prog which would surely open them up to this. So when I enquired what they thought I was somewhat taken aback to find they all (to a man) hated it. Secretly I quite liked this as I could champion it and take all the glory when it hit number one. However it was a hesitant hit at first, gradually climbing the charts. For the first few weeks of it’s release I was looking in trouble, my credibility was on the line. Then it happened and for a week or so I rode the crest of a wave and took the deserved plaudits. Gradually though, it began to infiltrate every radio show and became almost unavoidable. My friends were now all onboard and the thrill suddenly had gone. I began to despise it. After hearing Greg Lake’s epic Xmas masterpiece I jumped ship and foolishly began championing that. By the end of BR’s amazingly long run at the top I was thoroughly sick of it…….and sick of it I stayed pretty much for over a decade – until that Live Aid performance when it finally dawned on me how great Queen were, inspiring me to re-visit some of their stuff. Queen though, like many artists, who were successful in the 70’s were terrible in the 80’s (but conversly made their fortunes).

    It is absolutely true that Freddie’s gayness & mixed race were well hidden during their early successes. It wasn’t even a talking point (at least for kids of my age) at the time. I suspect Freddie didn’t mind that too much.

    Bo Rap (I hate that), would eventually welcome me back into it’s generous (ch)arms but for me at least it remains an enigma. I don’t love it or hate it now – it just exists.

    For me 1975 had been a fairly bland year for pop with no great fashions, styles or movements happening and glam receeding from the limelight. This led to a pretty uneven and sometimes bland chart so the timing of it’s release may have helped BR’s (certainly initial at least) success. May I also give honourable mentions for these chart singles whilst it was there, pitched at the top :-

    Sky High – Jigsaw, Golden Years – Bowie, Both Ends Burning – Roxy, Why Did You Do It – Stretch, No Regrets – Walker Bros, Low Rider – War, Sunshine Day – Osibisa, Evil Woman -ELO & Love Machine – Miracles.

  59. 59
    Waldo on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Just as I suspected and feared, the “number two watchers” amongst our little group will definitely have to get it sewn back on having contemplated this one…

    Bit of triv for you, kids. “Bo Rap” must surely be the only example of a UK number one which during its lyric sings the title of the record which would replace it. That’s probably a “Section Waldo” factoid, I know, and Bunny’s whiskers are a-twitchin’, but what you gonna do?

  60. 60
    Waldo on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Interesting reflections from Marcello at #7. He appears to be a real life Hamilton Academical, so he does. We didn’t have any child prodigies at Stockwell Manor. Just a prodigious number of child maniacs. Comprehensive School untermensch. We bloody well knew our place!

  61. 61
    Erithian on 18 Apr 2008 #

    intothefire – yes, his gayness possibly (it sailed over my head anyway and I don’t think it would have mattered) but his origins, no – there were plenty of references to Zanzibar and his childhood in interviews at the time, and his real name Bulsara was no secret.

    What a top three we had that Christmas – this, for me the greztest single of all time; Greg Lake, one of the great Christmas singles, and the novelty hit to top them all from Stan and Ollie. A letter in RM at the time: “Why haven’t you done an interview with Laurel and Hardy yet? They may not be mainstream, but…” I’m not 100% sure it was tongue in cheek.

  62. 62
    rosie on 18 Apr 2008 #

    And during Bo Rhap’s tenancy at number one, the Television Unit of the Liverpool University School of Education sprang into action. It was the practice for the group doing the Friday afternoon television production option to devise, produce and make their own half-hour programme at this time of year. This particular cohort descended on the Everyman Theatre. The Everyman was a ramshackle old thing in those says, an icon of the broader Liverpool arts scene of the 60s, a pointed radical alternative to the more mainstream Playhouse (although having a regular mainstream rep might seem pretty radical today.) It was home to political theatre of a generally left-of-the visible-spectrum tendency, subversions of the canon (my favourites were a production of Dracula, played absolutely deadpan and therefore hilarious, and a bizarre Taming of the Shrew featuring Jonathan Pryce in a white wedding dress), and a vegetarian cafe which was ok if you didn’t think too hard about what the kitchen might be like. The Everyman would be closing for extensive renovations after the current Christmas pantomime, to be reopened a couple of years later, clean and polished with a vegetarian restaurant that made respectable listings: a home fit for Blood Brothers

    An era was coming to a close, and what better subject for us to tackle than to go behind the scenes of Androcles and the Lion and record the feelings of the people behind the scenes. Me, I was driving a camera dolly, an doing a couple of interviews in between. Great fun. I wonder if the recording still exists?

    It seems to have been a Christmas for seismic cultural changes.

  63. 63
    vinylscot on 18 Apr 2008 #

    59 Waldo

    The first line of “Starry Eyed” by Michael Holliday is “Why am I so starry eyed” and the following number one was “Why” by Anthony Newley!

    Also, and a bit of a cheat, Tommy Steele’s “Singing the Blues” followed Guy Mitchell’s version of the same song, which obviously mentioned the title several times.

    There may be others, but these are just two which came about when a pub quiz asked the question quite recetly n Glasgow’s south side!

  64. 64
    Waldo on 18 Apr 2008 #

    vinylscot – Excellent stuff. “Singing the Blues” is not a cheat at all. Well played.

  65. 65
    Erithian on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Various odd cover versions of this exist, perhaps none odder than the one performed in the traditional section at the end of Crackerjack (CRACKERJACK!) where they did a sketch interspersed with current hit songs. Peter Glaze added at the end: “Oh, that’ll never be a hit, it won’t even make the top twenty!”

  66. 66
    CarsmileSteve on 18 Apr 2008 #

    waldo @ 59: i’m *SURE* there’s another one (maybe two) as i’m sure i’ve seen the question in a pub quiz before…

  67. 67
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Sky High – Jigsaw, Golden Years – Bowie, Both Ends Burning – Roxy, Why Did You Do It – Stretch, No Regrets – Walker Bros, Low Rider – War, Sunshine Day – Osibisa, Evil Woman -ELO & Love Machine – Miracles.

    All superb singles (though with ELO I was more of a “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” person) and many thanks for not mentioning “Renta Santa” by Chris Hill or indeed DLT’s favourite “It’s Gonna Be A Cold, Cold Christmas” by Dana.

    Re. “Golden Years” – ah, who (of the forty-plus Brit Popular Comments contingent) could forget Peter Glaze’s heartrending rendition of this incipient Thin White Duke classic on Crackerjack?

  68. 68
    vinylscot on 18 Apr 2008 #

    66 Carsmile Steve

    I know of at least another one, but didn’t mention it as it is “in the future” in relation to 1975.

    The trick is to look for short titles containing only common words!

  69. 69
    mike on 18 Apr 2008 #

    “Yesterday I saw your mum and dad / we bought our cards together…”
    Ah, who could forget Dana Provincial?

  70. 70
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Re. my comments #22 and #42: duplication due to spam filter problems yesterday so I am now registered thus but it’s still me honest guv.

  71. 71
    Tom on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Yes the spam filter’s at it again I think – registering will help though.

  72. 72
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    sorry, I meant #22 and #41.

  73. 73
    H. on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I guess this is the prog rock no. 1, albeit comedy prog. Were there any other songs with overtly prog tendencies that made no. 1? Which leads me to wonder about what genres never make it to no. 1, and how a history of no. ones really looks quite different to the ‘official’ history of popular music. Even the genres that are represented, nay, over-represented, like Glam, are only represented in a certain way. Think Glam these days and you’re probably thinking Bowie & Roxy, who don’t figure in the alternative No. 1 history of glam.

    Also, is BH the only song to be no. 1 on original release and then no. 1 again on re-release?

  74. 74
    Alan on 18 Apr 2008 #

    On the ‘which decade is best for pop’ thing that bbc four did a few months back, someone described Queen as the popular/acceptable/putting-out-singles version of Led Zep. i paraphrase.

    “Also, is BH the only song to be no. 1 on original release and then no. 1 again on re-release”

    recent elvis re-issues?

  75. 75
    Waldo on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I loved those ludicrous “Crackerjack” pop epilogues with dear old Peter “D’oh!” Glaze. I’ll be pressed to remember any in particular, to be honest but I do recall that there were no holds barred. Peter used to get shat on, first by Lesley Crowther and subsequently Don Maclean, who now has a party line to God, it seems. The children used to cheer to the rafters as the poor fucker continually got turned over and had Crowther or Maclean suggested that the little bastards rushed the stage and beat Glaze to death with cricket bats, they would have done.

  76. 76
    rosie on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Does the trick happen in reverse? The first word of Bye Bye Baby is the title of the previous number one.

    As for the best decade for pop: surely this would be the one in which one spent one’s formative years?

    H: “Prog” Rock number ones surely include Voodoo Chile? I think there may be a problem of terminology. Round about 1969-70, “progressive rock” tended to mean “anything that wasn’t chart material and got played by John Peel”, so that more-or-less precluded chart success. But that would mean that In The Summertime fell into that category since John Peel promoted it on his sunday afternoon show.

  77. 77
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Elvis reissues aside, there’s at least one other single which has been number one twice in the same recording.

  78. 78
    H. on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I guess I’m thinking of prog rock as Genesis, Yes, Tull and the like – v. popular at the time but precious few if any no. ones.

    Hmmm, I’m wondering what the ‘one other single which has been number one twice in the same recording’ is now… Frankie’s ‘Relax’, perchance?

  79. 79
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #


    (and by “number one twice” I mean number one on two entirely separate occasions, i.e. excluding “I Believe,” “Singing The Blues,” “She Loves You” etc.)

  80. 80
    Pete on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Band Aid

  81. 81
    LondonLee on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I know I’m in danger of of being thumped by the Spoiler Bunny but P*nk Fl*yd had a number one.

  82. 82
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    #80: nope – the original recording, as opposed to re-recordings by different casts.

  83. 83
    vinylscot on 18 Apr 2008 #

    DJ Punctum,

    Would that be the solo single by a member of a popular beat group, which returned to No1 after his death?

    Is this spoiler bunny material?

  84. 84
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Yes on both counts!

  85. 85
    vinylscot on 18 Apr 2008 #

    DJ Punctum,

    Sorry if I overstepped the mark. It can be confusing sometimes, especially when you are reasting to a challenge!

    I’ll try to be more circumspect in future!

  86. 86
    Waldo on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I wouldn’t worry about Bunny, vinylscot. He’ll be drawing his pension by the time you guys get there.

  87. 87
    Tom on 18 Apr 2008 #

    It’s marginal I think! The spoiler rule is largely meant to protect against critical discussion of future #1s (though saying “Oh it’ll be [x] next” is poor form too) – the fact that things returned to #1 can be hard not to mention but if it’s the same recording then Spoila B’s ears would only really prick up if we got onto discussing the context of the re-release.

  88. 88
    Waldo on 18 Apr 2008 #

    That’s perfectly clear, Tom. Bunny back in his hutch…for the time being!

  89. 89
    Billy Smart on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I can remember being really pleased that Peter Glaze was singing ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ on Crackerjack when I was six years old, because it was a song that had made a big impression on me on the two occasions that I’d seen it on Top Of The Pops! I was still too young to get the concept of parody though.

  90. 90
    H. on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Hmmm. So death is always required before a number one can return to the number one spot? Sobering news!

  91. 91
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    ‘Tis a shame that the much-missed Mr Glaze is no longer with us to proffer his idiosyncratic renditions of the hits of the day. I suspect that he and Don “Not American Pie” Maclean would have made a much better job of “4 Minutes” than Colin and Justin have done.

  92. 92
    LondonLee on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Sorry Tom, it’s hard to stop yourself when your brain is shouting “ooh ooh I know one!” at you.

  93. 93
    mike on 18 Apr 2008 #

    There’s an interview with Don MacLean MBE in today’s edition of the paper what I writes for. He’s touring a “pre-Beatles” 50s/60s nostalgia musical called Magic Moments – matinee performances only, which tells you plenty about the demographic! – and fellow Crackerjacker Jan Hunt is also in the cast. More than 50 songs included!

  94. 94
    Erithian on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Never mind “4 Minutes”, I’d like to have heard Glaze and co take on “21 Seconds”.

  95. 95
    Billy Smart on 18 Apr 2008 #

    That’s up there with the current touring production of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’, starring Gerald Harper (“from TV’s ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ and ‘Hadleigh'”), “Top ten singing sensation” Mark Wynter, and somebody even I’ve never heard of before, “from TV’s ‘Dixon of Dock Green'”

  96. 96
    LondonLee on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Gerald Harper was a DJ on Capitol Radio for a while too was he not?

  97. 97
    Chris Brown on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I knew the other returning Number One, but I too was concerned about being smacked by a carrot.

    However, a safe answer to the reverse of the other challenge: ‘What Do You Want’ by Adam Faith was deposed by ‘What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For’, and they even shared the top spot for a week.

    Apparently ‘Bo Rhap’ is Radio 1’s all-time most played track.

  98. 98
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Apparently Gerald Harper did a Family Favourites-type show at Sunday lunchtimes on Capital in the seventies; he used to send out flowers and wine to a lucky listener every week.

    The mind, naturally, boggles; up in Glasgow we had to make do with Andy Cameron’s Sunday Joint.

  99. 99
    Waldo on 19 Apr 2008 #

    #89 – Peter Glaze doing “Making Plans For Nigel” must have been cosmic. You can just imagine the look on his face when the director played him the record each week. But he just got on with it. Truly a dear man.

    I can rememember a kids’ thing on ITV at this time called “Get it Together”, which was pop-based and featured Roy (Basil Brush) North and some really rough brassy-looking tart called Linda. As with Glaze, one or the other of them used to perform a current chart hit and one week Mr Roy stuck a peg over his hooter and treated us to “Ma-Na-Ma-Na” from the Muppet Show. Need I say more?

  100. 100
    rosie on 19 Apr 2008 #

    Oh come on, somebody has to make the 100th post ;)

  101. 101
    DJ Punctum on 19 Apr 2008 #

    From the late, lamentable Get It Together I most clearly recall Mr Roy’s weekly “song” spot wherein he would manfully croon things like “Purple Haze” while being pawed up by a strange leather-clad female dance troupe.

  102. 102

    […] a dedicated music freak, but others are just part of the pop consciousness well beyond music. And “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is just such a […]

  103. 103
    crag on 20 Apr 2008 #

    I’m arriving a bit unfashionably late here but I’ve heard the theory that BR is actually a v personal song for Mercury, concerning his decision to embrace a 100% gay lifesyle and that the man he has “killed” in the song is,in fact, the non-gay Freddie who had been in a straight relationship(albeit w/ frequent one-off homosexual dalliences on the side)up to this point. In fact i’m fairly certain i’ve heard his girlfreind at the time backing the theory up.

    I liked Al Murray’s comment I read recently that Freddie’s gayness was viewed by the public in the 70’s and the 80’as a “national family secret.” It was obvious to everyone but they simply chose to ignore it. It was seen (correctly, though suprisingly) as irrelevant.

    I think of Queen as the nearest 70’s equvilant to the Beatles- no bandleader, apolitical, timeless yet utterly of their time, able to dip their toes into any contemporary genre they chose(glam, disco,metal,prog etc) yet still sounding like no-one but themselves. IMO the description fits them better than pseudo Rutles such as ELO et al..

  104. 104
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2008 #

    And both groups had the best resources and facilities that EMI could find offered up to them, as well. Good theory, Crag!

  105. 105
    crag on 20 Apr 2008 #

    Thanks, Billy! Not forgetting both bands clear sense of humour and proclivity for “comedy” songs-Mean Mister Mustard, Rocky Raccoon, Honey Pie etc=I’m in Love With My Car, Bring Back that Leroy Brown,Seaside Rendevouz etc(come to think of it theres also their mutual love of a 20’s pastiche to consider, too…)

  106. 106
    LondonLee on 20 Apr 2008 #

    All of the above could apply to the Barron Knights too.

  107. 107
    crag on 20 Apr 2008 #

    Except for the “timeless” bit..besides the Knights formed in 1960-surely their genius transends mere decades?

  108. 108
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Crag – I’m surprised I haven’t heard that interpretation of BR before, but what an intriguing one.

    Anyone remember the reviews of BR when it came out? Quite a morsel for reviewers to get their heads around on first hearing. Record Mirror said “It’s inconceivable that it won’t be a hit, but it’s the most unlikely serious chart contender ever… snatches sounding like Sparks and David Cassidy…”

    Or this reaction the following year: “Yeah I listen to what’s out today… like for instance there’s a band called Queen. They made a record called “Bohemian Rhapsody” which for me was the answer to a teenage prayer. They got tired of what was going on and got into a studio and just stomped!” – Brian Wilson, 1976.

  109. 109
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2008 #

    DJ Punctum (#101) – there was another edition of Get It Together in which Mr Roy sang a reggae-lite version of “Gin Gan Goolie”. I was thinking something like “must we fling this filth at our pop kids?”…

  110. 110
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    “They got tired of what was going on and got into a studio and just stomped!” – greatest sentence in entire history of music criticism ever!

  111. 111
    Mark G on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Reggae version of “GinGan”?

    Two of the rutles. Pretty damn sure of that.

    Anyroad: Bohem R was number one for ages, one reason being stocks kept running out and it kept having to be repressed. Now, of course, d/l’s mean everyone who wants it NOW can get it NOW.

  112. 112
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Hang on though; if stocks kept running out, wouldn’t it have dropped out of the chart?

    But I can buy the idea of Bo Rhap being about repression!

    Also it was initially played, some weeks prior to its release, on Capital Radio (over and over) by Freddie’s next door neighbour Kenny Everett.

  113. 113
    Mark G on 21 Apr 2008 #

    It sold enough to keep it at number one each week before running out.

    The following week, it did the same.

    As opposed to selling 2 million in one week, which would cause any company cash flow problems to manufacture.

  114. 114
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Just under a decade to go until the first number one which sold 2 million in one week!

  115. 115
    Billy Smart on 21 Apr 2008 #

    My only experience of The Barron Knights, apart from cobwebbed 1970s light entertainment memories, comes from the great Dale playing them through gritted teeth of a Sunday.

    As social history, with their conservative attitudes about strikers, scroungers and national service, plus the interesting caricature effect of hearing great records being travestied, I do find them rather compelling, if not remotely good.

  116. 116
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Dale had the opportunity to play “Pop Go The Workers” yesterday but passed over it. Instead he decided to slag off SL2 in favour of such giants of 1992 music as Mr Big and Curtis Stigers.

  117. 117
    Drucius on 23 Apr 2008 #

    I got this for my birthday, November ’75 along with Steeleye Span’s “All Around My Hat”. Next year would be very different, however.

  118. 118
    DJ Punctum on 23 Apr 2008 #

    It’s remarkable how Steeleye Span managed to get top Tory election theme tune composer Mike Batt to produce their recording of what is essentially an IRA anthem!

  119. 119
    rosie on 23 Apr 2008 #

    Opportunism, Marcello. That’s what Tories are good at. About all they’re good at.

  120. 120
    Waldo on 30 Apr 2008 #

    But the Lib Dems are a great deal worse. In the North of England and other places, they pitch their tent as the left of centre party in order to grub around for Labour seats. Meanwhile, in the South and South West, they emerge as a fluffy centre ground outfit for whom “Middle England” can safely vote. I recently had a discussion with a Lib Dem activist in Eastbourne, who tried to convince me that the only way to get rid of the unelected Brown Government (his words) was to vote out the sitting Conservative MP and replace him with their guy. Now, if that’s not opportunism, I’m a Dutchman.

  121. 121
    DJ Punctum on 30 Apr 2008 #

    If Boris wins tomorrow, will the last person to leave London please unplug the Thames Barrier as the ensuing destruction would be quicker and less painful.

  122. 122
    Waldo on 30 Apr 2008 #

    I think all three candidates are complete nobs and although it’s not my fight (despite being London born and bred), I have a fancy that Ken will just hold on. I do, however, feel that Labour will get a well-deserved toeing in the rest of the country. We’ll see.

  123. 123
    grimley on 25 Sep 2009 #

    I use this song as a fun exercise at the end of a talk or training session. If you believe the theory that says your brain has the capacity to remember every song you have ever heard all you need to do is give a group the first line and 9 times out of ten they can complete the whole song near enough word perfect.
    I first heard it on Fluff’s Saturday afternoon show and bought it the first day it came out not believing a song that long would get regular airplay to get it to No 1, how wrong was I. Still have it, plain white sleeve sitting in my single box against some of the more flamboyant picture sleeves of the eighties.
    Probably the most dissected song ever.

  124. 124
    thefatgit on 20 Oct 2009 #

    Brian May intrigued me. Being the all-round boffin that he was, he built his own guitar, the Red Special, with a little help from Dad, Harold. He originally wound his own Tri-Sonic pick-ups, but changed after the North-South polarity affected the sound. So he re-wound his pick-ups all north. The body is not solid. It has an oak back and a mahogany veneer. A bolt on neck with mother of pearl dots, 2 each at the 7th and 19th frets, and 3 dots at the 12th and 24th frets. The original Red Special had a built-in distortion unit, which he subsequently replaced. All together an expertly crafted guitar which in turn created a unique sound that was first heard by me in “Seven Seas Of Rye”. His sustain vibrato sound seemed to emerge from a purer place than the Bolanesque fuzz of the Gibson or the metallic (nb. not metal) trebly Fender. It was a clear, cut-glass sound. As a small kid, I didn’t really understand how the electric guitar worked. I recognised the different shapes: I could tell a Stratocaster from a Telecaster from a Les Paul. But I had no idea about pick-ups or machine heads or amps or pedals. I just liked the noise they made. Brian’s guitar had an angelic quality. His fingering technique seemed to me effortless. I tried to copy it with my cousin’s three quarter acoustic, but of course it sounded dreadful in my talentless hands. Cue longfaced little boy handing back the guitar to my cousin saying “It sounds all wrong” then stomping off to play with lego instead.

  125. 125
    Brooksie on 16 Feb 2010 #

    – I live!

  126. 126
    Billy on 12 Jan 2011 #

    I can pinpoint the exact month I became a Queen fan, and more specifically a fan of this song. It was November 2000, I was twelve years old and just started secondary school.

    In that month, Channel 4 showed a Queen documentary, and with nothing else to do I watched it. I didn’t know much about them before – the two big discoveries were that all these songs I knew all came from the same band (having a similar discovery with ABBA the year earlier), and that they’d kept going until 1991, I’d previously thought they just quietly fizzled out in the 1980s. I was enjoying it so much that I recorded the rest of the show…and at the end, they played this.

    It was the first time I’d ever heard the song in full. I’d seen the occasional clip before (and a weird memory of it being performed by a load of puppets on Blue Peter for some reason) but that was all. The moment it finished, I rewound the tape back six minutes and watched it again. And again. And many many more times. Twenty five years after it came out I’d never known anything like it, and spent the whole of the next week telling everyone at school about this amazing old song I’d just heard.

    Six years later it was one of the first songs I downloaded from iTunes. I don’t listen to it regularly anymore, but when I do, I try to get past its now-familarity and imagine myself back in 2000, wearing out that VHS tape until I knew every single lyric, and totally in love with every second.

    The only thing that annoys me is that much later it kept off what would have been two of the most amazing consecutive #1s ever. But that’s for another time…

  127. 127
    Davyboyb on 29 Nov 2011 #

  128. 128
    lonepilgrim on 1 Apr 2012 #

    Marcello’s latest entry on the album from which this opus came deserves another link and your attention:


  129. 129
    richard thompson on 12 Mar 2013 #

    Remember seeing crackerjack around this time, Peter Glaze sang Arts for arts sake and Sky High by Jigsaw, didn’t realise until later that Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t in the lyrics, My sweet Lord was the next single to go to number one for the second time, don’t know what’s number one at the moment anymore though.

  130. 130
    hectorthebat on 15 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Blender (USA) – The Greatest Songs Ever, One Song Added Every Other Month
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Life (USA) – 40 Years of Rock & Roll, 5 Songs for Each Year 1952-91 (Updated 1995)
    Pause & Play (USA) – 10 Songs of the 70’s (2003)
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (USA) – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock (1994?)
    Rolling Stone & MTV (USA) – The 100 Greatest Pop Songs Since the Beatles (2000) 29
    Rolling Stone (USA) – 40 Songs That Changed the World (2007)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 163
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 166
    TIME (USA) – The All-Time 100 Songs (2011)
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    VH1 (USA) – The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time (2000) 27
    2FM (Ireland) – Top 100 Singles of All Time (2003) 8
    BBC Radio2 (UK) – Sold on Song, a Celebration of Great Songs and Songwriting
    HarperCollins GEM (UK) – Single of the Year 1949-99 (1999)
    Kerrang! (UK) – 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (2002) 22
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (1997) 40
    Mojo (UK) – The Ultimate Jukebox: 100 Singles You Must Own (2003) 47
    Q (UK) – 100 Songs That Changed the World (2003) 32
    Q (UK) – 50 Greatest British Tracks (2005) 5
    Q (UK) – 50 Years of Great British Music, 10 Tracks per Decade (2008)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 524
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – Top 20 Singles from 1970-1979 (2004) 2
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 3
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Volume (France) – 200 Records that Changed the World, 2008 (38 songs)
    Rocks Musiczine (Spain) – The 100 Best Rock Songs in History (1995) 37
    STM Entertainment (Australia) – The 50 Best Songs Ever (2007) 6
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year 4
    Record Mirror (UK) – Singles of the Year 9

  131. 131
    Lazarus on 14 Nov 2014 #

    So, who watched ‘the Nation’s Favourite Queen Song’ the other night then? (I assume it hadn’t been on before). And what was number two? I intended to watch until the end but fell asleep around number 7 or so … a 4.40 alarm does that to me.

  132. 132
    Mark G on 15 Nov 2014 #

    I assume it would have been “Another one bites the dust”, which apparently has sold more than Bo.

  133. 133
    Lazarus on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Worldwide maybe (it was a US #1) but surely not in the UK, where ‘Bo’ had two runs at the top totalling something like 14 weeks. In any case I saw ‘Dust’ – it was around 11 or 12 – and I’m not sure this was based on sales either. The programme doesn’t seem to be available on Catch Up or ITV Player, which is very odd.

  134. 134
    Erithian on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Not too difficult to google:
    1. Bohemian Rhapsody
    2. We Will Rock You
    3. Don’t Stop Me Now
    4. I Want To Break Free
    5. We Are The Champions
    6. Killer Queen
    7. Under Pressure
    8. Radio Ga Ga
    9. These Are The Days Of Our Lives
    10. Somebody To Love
    11. Who Wants To Live Forever?
    12. A Kind Of Magic
    13. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
    14. Another One Bites The Dust
    15. The Show Must Go On
    16. Seven Seas Of Rhye
    17. You’re My Best Friend
    18. One Vision
    19. It’s A Hard Life
    20. I Want It All

    DSMN a bit of a surprise – only a #9 hit in ’79 but a karaoke favourite and a memorable miming video by the GB Olympic team in 2012, Jessica Ennis particularly getting into it.

  135. 135
    Lazarus on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Yes it’s a song which a lot of people are well disposed to – and as we’ve mentioned before made a return to the charts a few years back. Even Heart play it from time to time, and generally they only go with Queen from ‘Radio Ga Ga’ onwards.

    I suspect that if the list had been based on Queen Fan Club votes ‘Love of my Life’ would have featured in the top 10.

  136. 136
    Cumbrian on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Re: DSMN – by the time I got to university, Don’t Stop Me Now was a staple of the student night DJs line up. Not suggesting that karaoke doesn’t have something to do with it but there’s probably something in that too. Indeed, thinking back, it got played at a number of weddings I have subsequently been to – bride, groom and most of the guests would have been similar age to me, so I suspect that it’s graduated to some sort of standard for the time being. I wonder whether students have moved on since then…

  137. 137
    flahr on 15 Nov 2014 #

    I remember Don’t Stop Me Now being quite common at my late 90s primary school discos, mainly because I remember attempting to show off that I knew all the words.

  138. 138
    Patrick Mexico on 11 Dec 2014 #

    Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand was spot on when he described DSMN as something like “the ultimate feelgood song”, “the ultimate showman”, “no inhibitions whatsoever.” Unfortunately, being inappropriately shoehorned into cheap and cheerful “cheese night” playlists has ruined its legacy. Especially if it follows a primary school song – i.e. “I am the UKIP man, I come from down Herne Bay.” It feels a bit wrong, in the sense of Marty *bunny* ;) pulling his own mum in 1955, or like a 29-year-old adult going to sing-a-long-a-Frozen in Ilkley – on his own (this person exists, and he still remains a friend, just.)

  139. 139
    Kinitawowi on 11 Dec 2014 #

    DSMN also Top Gear’s Ultimate Driving Song, of course (in the typo’d guise of “Don’t Stop Me No”). Couldn’t agree with that conclusion to be honest; my main association with it at the time was telly adverts for Manchester’s Trafford Centre, so it’s fine if you’re driving round the M60 to Next to buy a pair of trousers but otherwise nah.

    (I voted for Meat Loaf. I REGRET NOTHING.)

  140. 141
    Cumbrian on 24 Jun 2015 #

    Massive missed opportunity to call this Brewhemian Rhapsody. Someone from CAMRA needs to be helping them out marketing wise.

  141. 142
    Mark G on 25 May 2016 #

    You know when you get to see a band before they get famous, I mean well before?

    Picture the scene, Butlins Skegness, 1977. Plenty of entertainment of a night, various options: Theatre (plays), Grand theatre (Variety – as per London Palladium sort of thing), and the bar/ballroom with the live band. The resident outfit get to run a little earner, which is ‘sales of the single’ – they make an ep of cover versions rendered in their own style/limitation and sell them, fully signed, after the performance (or sometimes during the interval – it’s worth it to them).

    So, this particular band have an eye to do something ambitious and attempt to do Bohemian Rhapsody. Despite Queen never having done it live themselves (at least with Freddie), they have already spent time rehearsing and getting it performable. This gets pressed and paid for upfront by Freddie “Parrot Face” Davies, and ‘issued’ (i.e. kept in a store cupboard and individual boxes brought out as needed) on his label “Gay Time” (really..). B-side has their version of “Romeo” by Mr Big (you know, “Step back inside me Romeo she said”, that one), and a novelty number called “Peanuts”. As I say, we did see the band at the time, but I don’t recall them doing BR but I sort of admired their ambition but couldn’t imagine it being any good, so I didn’t get one.

    Oh yeah, and who were those masked men? Black Lace. The very same.

  142. 143
    Andrew Farrell on 4 Jun 2016 #

    #59 – the version I’ve heard is the lyrics of which UK number one include its successor’s title but don’t include its own.

  143. 144
    Lazarus on 8 Dec 2016 #

    2016 keeps doing its thing – as he was one of the four acts kept off number one during Bohemian Rhapsody’s initial nine-week run, I guess this is the place to say vale Greg Lake, four months after bandmate Keith Emerson. A few years ago I’d have thought that a high chart placing for ‘I Believed …’ in Christmas week would have been a formality – I’m not so sure now.

  144. 145
    AMZ1981 on 8 Dec 2016 #

    Greg Lake had another near miss just eighteen months or so after when Hot Chocolate blocked ELP from the summit.

  145. 146
    lonepilgrim on 11 Nov 2019 #

    I admire this song and find it entertaining but I think as Marcello says back at comment 7 it did represent an end to an era – one where bands and audience considered themselves part of a shared community. Queen always seemed as if they were up on a pedestal and happy to be there. When the TOTP repeats started a few years back there was another Queen video of the band playing in the studio rather than before an audience where they seem lost in their own pampered world.
    From memory Freddie Mercury was treated with disdain by many in the UK music press at the time with the headline: ‘Is this man a prat?’ featuring in the NME alongside an unflattering image of FM in a leotard. I suspect there was some barely hidden homophobia in the attack but they were often critical of anything that smacked of artifice (Bryan Ferry frequently got ridiculed).

  146. 147
    Tommy Mack on 11 Nov 2019 #

    Were Queen really less part of a shared community with their fans than say, Led Zep or Pink Floyd? Or the Beatles or Stones since about 1967?

  147. 148
    Smilin' Peter on 11 Nov 2019 #

    @#146 and #147

    Yes, Queen are often accused of being elitist or aloof (perhaps having a ‘monarchist’ band name didn’t help…)

    But it probably isn’t entirely fair. They took audience participation in their gigs to new heights, especially with songs like We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions being written with crowd singalongs in mind (some of their more po-faced detractors called it pantomime. Whatever). And they had one of the longest running fan clubs of any band.

    One comment for which Freddie is still pilloried was made to a Queen crowd at Earls Court in 1977 – ‘may you all have champagne for breakfast’.

    Was he, in his own way, wishing his fans wealth and happiness? Or was this the deluded declaration of a modern day Marie Antoinette? Perhaps he shouldn’t really have been encouraging drinking before noon? You decide.

    Plus, it is notable that thy are more popular among the pubic than with critics.

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