Queen: Freddie Mercury performs Bohemian Rhapsody in 1981
There’s a wonderful moment in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie where Roger is trying to persuade everyone that his track, I’m In Love With My Car, should be the lead single for their new album. Of course, in the end, the band went with the song that would cement their fame and fortunes forever. But Roger wasn’t done with fighting for his track and it ended up making him a lot of money. Queen’s producer Roy Thomas Baker tells the extraordinary story behind the creation and release of the song Bohemian Rhapsody – and why he needed a special room where the band could “bicker” in private.
Baker had already worked on Queen’s first three albums – Queen, Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack – when he was brought on board.
He has described the unique challenges of producing this particular band: “It was a more difficult situation than working with a band with only one songwriter, because they were all so good. But it didn’t matter who had written the song; it still had to sound like a Queen record.”
He said he had to set aside a private room where the four bandmates could thrash out their differences, away from everyone else.
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Baker said: “They were great to work with, although like most bands there was an element of internal bickering.
“I always told them that it was too embarrassing for them to have an argument in front of everyone in the studio.
“So I would always make a room available for them to go to and argue in private.”
According to Baker, much of the arguing wasn’t actually about the creation of the music itself.
Baker said: “I think most of their arguments were about who had the B-side.”
It wasn’t just a simple matter of pride, however, back in those earlier days when each of the band members generally wrote songs separately and had their individual credits on the singles.
Backer explained the arguments were also based on: “that royalty thing. I remember Roger moping about because he really wanted his song, ‘I’m In Love With My Car’, on the B-side of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. He locked himself in the tape closet at SARM (recording studios) and said he wouldn’t come out until they agreed to put it on!”
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Roger may also have been fighting for more recognition for his own work when traditionally Freddie Mercury and Brian May’s compositions dominated the line-up of the early albums and singles.
Either way, his success this time meant he shared the royalties for Bohemian Rhapsody with Freddie.
Released in October 1975, by January it had sold over one million copies and is estimated to have passed six million since then – plus over 1.6 billion downloads and streams in the modern era.
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