Freddie Mercury’s old songbooks have revealed the original name of one of the world’s most famous rock anthems.
A new exhibition of Queen’s lead singer’s songwriting sketches at Sotheby’s Auction House in London shows Mercury, who died in November 1991 at the age of 45, naming the band’s most famous song “Mongolian Rhapsody.”
Written in black and blue ink and pencil on the stationery of the long-closed UK airline British Midland Airways, Mercury’s lyrics for the 1975 rock classic span 15 pages and later crossed out the word “Mongolian” and replaced it with the famous ” reveals that he coined the word “bohemian”. Rhapsody instead”.
A possible expansion for the second verse is presented on another page. Mercury’s notes read, “Mother, a war has begun, I have to go tonight.” The final version of the song eventually lost its military reference and used the now famous lyrics: “Mother, I just killed a man.”
While the drafts don’t explain why Mercury changed the name of the hit song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been sold or streamed more than 10 million times in the US and has been streamed more than 4 billion times worldwide on Spotify and YouTube.
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The song manuscripts, which include sketches of Queen classics such as “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Somebody to Love” and “We Are the Champions”, come from a personal collection kept at Mercury’s London home that he bought in 1980. It is called the Garden Pavilion.
A selection of items will be on show for the first time at Sotheby’s New York City from June 1 to June 8, after touring Los Angeles and Hong Kong and returning to London in August.
The lyrics also form part of a collection of more than 1,500 Mercury pieces, including clothing and artwork, “Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own”, which will go up for auction in London in September.
Sotheby’s estimates lyrics will cost between $250,000 and $400,000, while a tiara and cloak that Mercury wore while singing “God Save the Queen” on his last tour with Queen is expected to cost between $75,000 and $100,000.
“For many years, I have had the joy and privilege of living surrounded by all the wonderful things that Freddie sought and loved so much,” said Mary Austin, a close friend of Mercury’s, who has looked after the late singer’s belongings since her death. a Sotheby’s publication. “But the years have passed and the time has come for me to make the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life.”
“It was important to me to do it in a way that I felt Freddie would love, and there was nothing he loved more than an auction,” Austin added. “Freddie was an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty and fun and conversation in all things.”
“I hope this will be an opportunity to share all aspects of Freddie, both public and private, and for the world to better understand and celebrate his unique and beautiful spirit,” he continued.
Austin will share a percentage of the proceeds from sales to HIV/AIDS charities Mercury Phoenix Trust and Elton John Aids Foundation.