Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody 5th Anniversary- Brian May, Roger Taylor

You know after a best-selling book is made into a popular film how you’ll hear from early adopters, “Yeah it’s good, but there was a lot in the book that wasn’t in the movie”? Same can be said for the four Oscar-winning Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.  As compared to their  fifty year reign as a world-class band  atop the rock throne, there’s a lot more “there” there than can fit into a feature length film.

In my interviews spanning the last forty of those years, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor take us places on the band’s royal road far off the well-known stops, such as the Live Aid concert. For instance, Bohemian Rhapsody‘s focus on Freddie Mercury, the composer of Queen’s breakthrough smash song and the movie’s namesake, did not write anything for the group’s early albums. Guitarist/songwriter Brian May nearly died while on tour in America in 1974. Drummer/songwriter Roger Taylor confirms that Queen were penniless, and their record label ready to drop them, when A Night at the Opera  was released, and Brian May reveals that the band lost money on every tour until 1986! For eight long years, Brian, Roger, and Queen manager Jim Beach tried valiantly to get a movie made of the life of vocally-gifted frontman Freddie Mercury. Seemingly snakebitten at every turn, the production lurched in fits and starts through two lead actors, two directors, and lukewarm advance reviews to emerge with Bohemian Rhapsody  being the #1 box office film in the world during Fall and holiday season 2018, then running the table at the Academy Awards with four Oscars, including Best Actor! In his poignant acceptance speech for the Oscar for Best Actor, Rami Malek pointed out that he himself was a first-generation immigrant who portrayed a gay immigrant in the role of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. It’s taken thirty years now since his passing, but I think that Bohemian Rhapsody‘s  greatest accomplishment of all is it once again focused the world on Freddie Mercury’s remarkable life, rather than the circumstances of his death. –Redbeard