Maybe you liked hearing Freddie Mercury and David Bowie belt out the vocal track for the 1981 hit, ‘Under Pressure.’ Well, here’s another one for you: Freddie Mercury’s piano and vocal tracks for the Queen classic, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Although the song was released on the 1975 album A Night at the Opera, Freddie Mercury first began working on the epic song during the late 1960s, often using his piano at home.
According to the 2011 documentary Queen: The Days of Our Lives (watch it here), Mercury took ideas for three songs and knitted them into one complex operatic ballad. It was long enough (almost six minutes) that it seemed unlikely to get any radio play. The music execs begged Mercury to simplify things, to pare things down, but he didn’t relent. It was all or nothing. And the recording process equaled the complexity of the song. Six different studios were used along the way, with Mercury trying to help the band record the sprawling song he had mapped out in his mind.
The first video above features Mercury’s piano track that forms the backbone of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On it, Mercury plays a Bechstein concert grand piano, which otherwise appears in the famous video that promoted the song. The second video above features the isolated vocal parts. During the grueling recording sessions, Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor spent 10–12 hours each day working on the vocals. And finally, for good measure, we’ve added below a fresh reminder of what a beautiful thing Queen created almost 40 years ago. Filmed just last week, the clip features a crowd of 60,000 singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” before the start of a Green Day concert in London. I’ll just leave it with that.