Freshly discovered draft of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" has revealed that Freddie Mercury originally intended to name the song "Mongolian Rhapsody."
Handwritten copies of Mercury's lyrics, including early versions of other popular hits like "Don't Stop Me Now" and "Somebody to Love," are currently up for auction at Sotheby's New York until June 8.
Among the personal collection of lyrics found at Mercury's London home was an early draft of "Bohemian Rhapsody" where he had initially written "Mongolian Rhapsody" in black and blue ink, but later crossed out "Mongolian" and replaced it with "Bohemian."
Additionally, instead of the familiar opening line "Mama, just killed a man," the draft presented an alternative version: "Mama, there's a war began." Some words found in the manuscripts, like "matador" and "belladonna," did not make it into the final version of the song.
Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's books and manuscripts specialist, commented on the significance of these findings, stating that they reveal the extensive process of redrafting that was part of Mercury's songwriting.
The auction approximates the value of the "autograph working lyrics" for "Bohemian Rhapsody" to be up to $1.5 million. Manuscripts for "Don't Stop Me Now" are valued at up to $225,000, while the "lyrical pages" of "We Are the Champions" are expected to fetch up to $370,000.
The collection includes, besides the lyrics the wardrobe worn by Mercury in the promotional video for "Bohemian Rhapsody," including a two-piece stage outfit designed by Wendy de Smet, a friend commissioned by Mercury.
Five years ago, "Bohemian Rhapsody" set records as the most-streamed song of the 20th century, with over 1.6 billion streams of the song and its music video at that time, as reported by Universal Music Group, the band's representative.
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