Its achievements are spectacular, not just in the Queen story but the history of pop music. The only single to be a Christmas No. 1 twice. The only single to be No. 1 in the UK in four different calendar years. The first single for 18 years to spend nine weeks atop the British chart. Not just the third bestselling single in the UK of all time, but featured on the top-selling UK album ever. We could only be talking about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ which became a UK No. 1 for a second time on 21 December 1991.
No fewer than five different studios were used in the production of the groundbreaking song, starting at Rockfield in Wales in August 1975. It took three weeks to assemble, and in some parts of the track, there were 180 separate vocal overdubs. ‘Rhapsody’ raced to the top of the British chart and stayed there for nine weeks, over Christmas 1975 and into the new year.
By early in 1976, it had sold its first million, and went on to be a top ten hit in America that year, and again in 1992, thanks to its inclusion in the movie Wayne’s World. By then, the anthemic song had become a British No. 1, and a Christmas chart-topper again, when it re-charted as the nation mourned Freddie Mercury’s death on 24 November 1991.
In June 2013, the Official Charts Company published an updated list of the UK’s bestselling singles of all time, with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at No. 3 on 2.4 million sales, only behind Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ at No. 2 on 3.73 million, and the runaway leader, Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind 1997’/’Something About The Way You Look Tonight,’ with 4.91 million sales. But Queen trump both of those, in that ‘Rhapsody’ is, of course, also on their Greatest Hits collection, the UK’s all-time topselling album with sales of more than six million.
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