Queen’s Brian May on 40th anniversary of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: ‘I still listen to it in the car’

The song was originally released on October 31, 1975

With Queen‘s hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ turning 40 years of age this weekend, guitarist Brian May has spoken about the song’s creation, meaning and legacy in a new interview.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was originally released in 1975, taken from the band’s fourth album ‘A Night at the Opera’. It topped the UK Singles Chart upon its release.

Speaking to BBC News about the making of the song, May said: “We all realised it was something wonderful and we should give it our heart and soul”.

“The heavy bit was a great opportunity for us to be at full pelt as a rock band. But that big, heavy riff came from Freddie [Mercury], not me. That was something he played with his left hand in octaves on the piano. So I had that as a guide – and that’s very hard to do, because Freddie’s piano playing was exceptional, although he didn’t think so.”

May added of the song’s ambiguous lyrics: “I do think Freddie enjoyed the fact there were so many interpretations of the lyrics. It’s an outlandish song. I think it’s beyond analysis. That’s not me trying to be evasive. I just think that’s why we love songs – they can do something to us that a piece of text can’t.”

“I have my own ideas and feelings about Bohemian Rhapsody – but I hate talking about it, and I generally refuse.”

Despite four decades passing since its original release, May states that he’s still “not sick of it”: “You can’t complain that people want to talk about it all these years later. I still enjoy hearing it. If it comes on the radio, I’ll turn it up and listen. But no air guitar. I’m too old for air guitar now.”


‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ returned to the US charts upon re-release in 1992, after being used in the soundtrack for Wayne’s World.

May said of its revival: “I didn’t know Mike Myers [who wrote and starred in the film] but he rang me up out of the blue and said: ‘We’ve done this amazing sequence in our new film – can we have your approval? And can you get Freddie to hear it?'”

“So he sent me a cassette and I took it around to Freddie, who was not in a good state at that time. He was… He was confined to his bed, but I took it round and played it to him and he loved it. Strangely enough, the humour in it was quite close to our own. Because we did that kind of thing in the car, bouncing up and down to our own tracks!”

Watch the video for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ below.

Adam Lambert – who has fronted Queen since 2011 – recently admitted that he’d like to perform with the band at Glastonbury, after rumours circulated that they might be a frontrunner for the 2016 headline slot.

Talking to Bang Showbiz, Lambert said: “That’s the first time hearing of it so I don’t know. If they invited me, yes of course I would”.

Brian May had previously suggested that Lambert’s commitments might have been the reason the band didn’t play 2015’s festival, saying: “Look these things get put on the table, it would be interesting to do Glastonbury if we were an operational unit at the time.”

“You see this year Adam’s off doing his solo work at the moment so it wouldn’t have worked. You only look at things that are possible logistically at the time.”