‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ fact check: How accurate is the new Queen biopic?

Queen on trip– and not on the edge of dividing– in 1984, the year prior to Live Aid.
Image: Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Bohemian Rhapsody now rules the roost as the leading film in America , as every real Queen fan might have informed you it would. (Spoilers ahead for those who have not seen it.)

And while that’s terrific for the band’s tradition — evidence as soon as again that its music has universal appeal — it likewise implies that an unexpected quantity of untruths are now preserved as the bio best understood to the moviegoing public.

Before you dismiss that as a needed evil of storytelling, consider this: When you go into the band’s real history, the real variation of their tale is, in practically every circumstances, even more drastically intriguing. Queen was bigger than life, and definitely bigger than the standard-issue music biopic cliches that occupy Bohemian Rhapsody.

Case in point: the band’s origin story.

As It Began

Brian May, Roger Taylor on a post box, Freddie Mercury and John Deacon in 1973.

Image: rb/Redferns

In the motion picture, a shy young Farrokh Bulsara (calling himself Freddie, however not yet Mercury) presents himself to Brian May and Roger Taylor, guitar player and drummer of a band called Smile.

Smile’s diva Tim Staffell has actually stopped to sign up with another group called Humpy Bong (truth check: real). Brian and Roger are suspicious of this beginner with the huge teeth up until he sings a couple of bars of May and Staffell’s tune “Doin’ Alright.”

In reality, nevertheless, Freddie and Tim were buddies who went to the very same art college. Freddie was familiar with Brian and Roger through Tim, and began running a flea market stall in Kensington with Roger in 1969.

Their relationship went through a year-long funny of mistakes, in which Freddie ended up being diva of a Liverpool-based band called Ibex, traipsing up and down England while he and the 2 other future members of Queen in fact relocated together back in London.

Freddie stopped Ibex. Tim stopped Smile. And still these 3 lunkheads didn’t determine for weeks that history desired them to be in an unite.

Tell me that isn’t an ideal Hollywood meet-cute montage series.

The initially gig

The motion picture reveals bass gamer John “Deaky” Deacon signing up with the lineup right away; in reality, the band would go through 3 bass gamers in fast succession prior to discovering him.

It likewise includes a renowned minute where Freddie gets disappointed and dupe the leading half of the mic represent more on-stage movement; this carried out in truth take place, however while he was singing with Ibex.

By the time Queen played its very first gig at a half-empty Red Cross advantage in Cornwall in May 1970 (not in Smile’s old London place, as the motion picture has it), according to eyewitnesses, Freddie was well on his method to being the positive showman we like and understand.

Another indication that Freddie was much more fearless than the film recommends: Their very first on-stage tune was “Stone Cold Crazy,” a quick rock number he had actually sung with Ibex currently (and which would wind up on the Sheer Heart Attack album).

The film reveals Queen opening with “Keep Yourself Alive,” which would become their very first single — however in May 1970, Brian May might not have actually even composed the important things yet.

And when they did perform it, Freddie would remain way more real to Brian’s lyrics than the film recommends.

Into the studio

In among the more cliched biopic minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen offers its touring van in order to purchase studio time to make its very first album. They didn’t require to. A person called Norman Sheffield, owner of Trident, among the very best recording studios in the UK, used Queen totally free studio time and a stipend — in exchange for owning the band’s output.

That ended up being a handle the devil. Queen’s 2nd supervisor, John Reid, occurred in 1975 (not right away, as the motion picture recommends) and needed to invest much of his time liberating the group from its Trident offer. Freddie was so disappointed with Sheffield he composed not one however 2 tunes knocking him: “Flick of the Wrist” and “Death on Two Legs.”

Why didn’t that unbelievable real-life drama make it into the film? Perhaps due to the fact that Sheffield took legal action against Queen for character assassination after he heard a tape of “Death on Two Legs” — taped in his own studio. Queen settled out of court.

A smaller sized note on the studio session scene: Bohemian Rhapsody reveals the band getting innovative while taping the lyrics of “Seven Seas of Rhye.” Just a quick crucial variation made it onto that very first self-titled album.

A little point, yes, however not the last or very first time the motion picture plays quick and loose with Queen’s musical chronology.

Fat Bottomed what now?

In the motion picture, Elton John’s supervisor John Reid takes control of, and instantly sends out Queen on a headlining trip of America. The band had actually currently visited America two times (as soon as nominally opening for a band called Mott the Hoople) prior to they fulfilled Reid.

A more outright mistake is that Queen is seen playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” on this 1974 trip. They would not compose that tune up until 1978, for the album Jazz.

That matters due to the fact that Jazz was a clearly various and more questionable age of Queen music, one where the group was combating the increasing tide of punk with transgressive naughtiness of its own. “Fat Bottomed Girls” was inextricable from the other tune on its double-A side, “Bicycle Race.”

To promote them, Queen released posters of naked females on bikes — which were without delay prohibited in both the U.S. and the UK. Undeterred, the band had naked ladies cycle around the phase of Madison Square Garden. Once again, this may have produced an intriguing film scene!

When will, when will we rock you?

The less stated about Mike Myers’ certainly phony music label executive “Ray Foster,” the much better — other than to question why in the world his successful group Queen would need to ask his consent to tape an album entitled Night at the Opera. EMI’s real primary Roy Featherstone was a huge Queen fan.

And while Featherstone did stress about “Bohemian Rhapsody” being strange and too long for a hit single, so did lots of people — consisting of Elton John and the band’s own bassist, John Deacon.

Notably, their remarks are not amongst the unfavorable evaluations that flash up on screen.

The less stated about Mike Myers’ undoubtedly phony music label executive, the much better.

Next comes the film’s weirdest little chronology rearrangement. We fast-forward to 1980, potentially to get to the “Freddie has a mustache” stage of Queen as quickly as possible, and in some way Brian May hasn’t created “We Will Rock You” yet.

In truth, the band had actually been rocking arenas with it considering that 1977, having actually been influenced by Queen fans shouting a football (soccer, for Americans) tune at the end of a program in 1976.

Big offer, you may believe. Simply attempt to think of a Beatles film in which Paul McCartney does not come up with the tune for “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” up until after Let It Be. It would make no sense! Fans would be burning multiplexes down! That’s precisely the quantity of time-shifting of a specifying hit that has actually taken place here.

Given that Bohemian Rhapsody heads out of its method to please fans with deep cuts like “Doin’ Alright” and “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon,” it’s odd that it needs to head out of its method to upset them too.

Another little note: Freddie gets dented in the film for continuously being late to taping sessions. He often was, however so were the others. The acoustic guitar-led hit “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” started life in 1979 as a tune the band might tape-record “prior to Brian gets here.”

On the beach

Queen supervisor Jim Beach and Mary Austin with Freddie in 1986.

Image: dave hogan/Getty Images

Bohemian Rhapsody programs Jim “Miami” Beach taking control of as Queen’s supervisor after John Reid devotes the unpardonable sin of recommending that Freddie take an enormous payment to desert the band and record a solo album. Freddie is so incensed he kicks Reid out of his limousine.

In truth, Reid was simply too hectic handling Elton John’s dizzying profession to manage Queen too, and got a good payment for ending his time with the band early. When it comes to solo albums, I can’t worry this enough: Everyone did them and they weren’t a huge offer.

Roger Taylor was the very first, launching Fun in Space in April 1981. Not just were the remainder of the band helpful, they even permitted him to launch it at the very same time as Queen’s Greatest Hits.

When Freddie lastly launched his solo effort in 1985, Mr. Bad Guy, it was the most effective of them all — and it didn’t even get near breaking the band up as the film recommends. They were simply completing a trip together at the time of its release, promoting their most effective album in years, The Works.

That’s actually why Queen knocked it out of the park at Live Aid — they had actually simply been on the roadway carrying out all those tunes. It had absolutely nothing to with the “let’s get the band back together” practice session cliche, or with Freddie’s AIDS medical diagnosis (which in all possibility didn’t take place till 1987).

Sometimes there’s simply no alternative to experience.

Freddie and pals

Much has actually currently been discussed the troublesome method Bohemian Rhapsody methods Freddie’s sexuality. Suffice to state the film provides him as the lonesome detainee of his individual supervisor Paul Prenter, who leads Freddie into an ever much deeper world of drugs and gay sex.

In truth, Freddie had method more company. He was the one who led the partying, not Prenter. When it came to coke, alcohol and sex with mainly guys however likewise females, even Elton John marveled at Freddie’s prodigious energy levels. (His precious Mary Austin was far from the only lady Freddie would sleep with; he likewise had a major multi-year open relationship with Austrian starlet Barbara Valentin.)

While his bandmates might likewise celebration, and even peaceful reserved married Brian fell for a lady called Peaches after an actual orgy Queen included New Orleans, “Freddie was out there eclipsing the great deal of them, tossing care into the typhoon,” composes Lesley-Ann Jones in Bohemian Rhapsody: The Definitive Biography of Freddie Mercury.

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