Interesting Facts

Bohemian Rhapsody: Fact vs. Fiction – What’s True and What’s Not

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Are you a big fan of the hit biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody? Are you wondering what’s fact and what’s fiction? Then this article is for you!

Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the rise of one of the greatest bands in history: Queen. From their iconic live performance at Wembley Stadium to their success after lead singer Freddie Mercury’s death, Queen continues to influence and inspire millions 30 years later.

Let’s take a closer look at Bohemian Rhapsody – Fact vs. Fiction.

1. Freddie Mercury began working on “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1968

Freddie Mercury’s musical career began in 1968 with the song that became known as “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury/ Source

He wrote the opening lyrics for the song, “Mama, just killed a man,” which he dubbed “The Cowboy Song” because of its Old West feel.

Freddie began bringing his idea for this powerful rock ballad into reality while a student at London’s Ealing Art College at the time.

Little did he know what an impact it would have in years to come, becoming not only one of Queen’s greatest hits in the 1970s but also a popular karaoke favorite today. Freddie Mercury started writing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1968, and it has gone on to become one of his most loved works.

2. Queen’s producer was wary of “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” operatic composition

When Roy Thomas Baker, Queen’s producer, initially heard the framework of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he was skeptical.

Freddie Mercury led him to the piano in his London flat to play the song, and when he reached the operatic section, he stopped and exclaimed, “And this is where the opera section comes in!”

Baker laughed at Freddie Mercury’s ambitious idea, but when Freddie returned to the studio a few days later with numerous pieces of paper and a chart for his structure, Baker was ascertained to capture Mercury’s vision on tape.

Despite his reservations, he refused to get in the manner of such a grandiose idea, and thus “Bohemian Rhapsody” was born.

3. For “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Roger Taylor’s drum kit now includes a symphonic gong

When it comes to performing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Roger Taylor’s drum kit has been outfitted with one very special addition – a 60″ symphonic gong.

He had this specially added for the tour to support A Night at the Opera, which just goes to show how dedicated Queen was to getting the perfect notes for their incredibly popular song.

On each tour date, the gong was cleaned, packed, and set up so that Taylor could strike the final note when needed. It adds an extra sense of power and majesty to their live shows and helps bring Bohemian Rhapsody alive in a way that can’t be replicated by simply listening to a recording.

Even after all these years, Queen is still showing us why they’re truly one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest legacy acts!

4. Elton John thought “Bohemian Rhapsody” was “weird” for radio play

When Queen’s manager presented Elton John with a rough mix of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the reaction he got was far from favorable. Responding with “Are you f*cking mad?”, it’s clear that John wasn’t impressed.

After all, nearly six minutes is a long time for a song, and let’s be honest – it is a bit “weird”. That being said, it seems that John believed that this kind of song didn’t belong on the radio and should just stay in their studio instead.

5. Before Live Aid, Freddie had not been diagnosed with HIV

Before their show-stopping performance at Live Aid, Freddie Mercury had not yet been diagnosed with HIV. The movie implies he received his diagnosis before their iconic 1985 show at Wembley Stadium, however his partner, Jim Hutton, revealed that Freddie didn’t receive the news until April 1987.

Freddie Mercury & Brian May At London's Live Aid concert
Freddie Mercury & Brian May At London’s Live Aid concert/ Source

In Bohemian Rhapsody’s dramatic scene, Freddie shares the heartbreaking news about his condition during a rehearsal for Live Aid with the other members of Queen. Yet it was only in real life two years later he found out and subsequently told them.

This moment serves as an example of artistic license taken when making the film and how it dramatizes segments of its main character’s life – all while highlighting how hard it must have been for him to carry such a heavy burden.

6. In the early 1970s, Fat Bottomed Girls was not performed on tour

When it comes to the early 1970s, “Fat Bottomed Girls” wasn’t a part of Queen’s shows. The period that Bohemian Rhapsody covers starts in 1970 and ends with the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

During this span, Queen toured extensively across the U.S., Europe, and beyond, but “Fat Bottomed Girls” was not part of their setlist–at least until after 1978 when it was released on their Jazz album. The movie may show them performing this song during that period, but in real life, they were doing something completely different.

So while Bohemian Rhapsody may give viewers an entertaining insight into Queen’s career and music during that period, they missed out on depicting one significant detail–the fact that “Fat Bottomed Girls” wasn’t a part of their setlist until later on.

7. Rock In Rio took place in the 1980s, not the 1970s

Rock In Rio, the massive show that Bohemian Rhapsody portrays as taking place in the mid-late 1970s happened in the 1980s. To be exact: January 1985. But despite time discrepancies, what Freddie and his band accomplished was still absolutely incredible.

The show was an iconic moment for the entire band and was attended by an unprecedented number of people! It was certainly a spectacle to behold and looks as impressive today as it would have back then. The video clip below gives you a glimpse into just how huge this stage performance was.

No matter when it took place or how far away Mary Austin watched it, Rock In Rio remains one of the biggest accomplishments of Queen’s long career.

8. At a house party, Freddie met his partner, Jim Hutton

The Bohemian Rhapsody film portrays the way Freddie Mercury met his long-term partner, Jim Hutton, as having happened at a house party. However, Hutton released an autobiography saying that he first encountered the Queen icon at London’s Heaven nightclub around 1980.

Regardless, the true story of their relationship—from friendship to love—is still captivating and heart-warming. They met when Mercury was at the height of his fame, and yet Hutton was not impressed with him being a star as he just wanted to treat him like any other person.

But over time they formed a lasting bond and soon became inseparable until Mercury’s death in 1991 due to complications caused by AIDS.

9. Is it true that Queen “hadn’t played in years” before Live Aid?

No, this isn’t true! Queen was far from inactive before their iconic Live Aid performance in 1985. They had just finished up a tour in May of that year in support of their hugely successful album The Works, which had been released the year before.

The band was well-versed when it came to playing shows in large stadiums by the time of the historic June 13 concert, which is why they gave such an impressive performance that day.

So if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, make sure to set them straight and remind them that Queen was anything but rusty at Live Aid.