a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

Bohemian Rhapsody

Music/Lyrics: Freddie Mercury

Vocals: Phish, Boston Community Choir

Original Artist: Queen

Original Album: A Night At the Opera (1975)

Debut: 1996-12-31

Historian: Craig DeLucia; Mockingbird Staff

On New Year's Eve 1996, fans witnessed the dropping of thousands of balloons at the stroke of midnight while the band launched into a raucous “Down with Disease.” Many thought that this event alone was the New Year’s treat; many were surely wrong. In the third set, Phish brought out “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a complex Queen song made popular in the 1970’s by its intricacy and operatic story and again in the 1990s by its appearance in the hit movie Wayne’s World. Interestingly, this song was one of the longest to become an FM radio staple. This is a fun comparison to Phish, whose songs have been criticized by mainstream radio because of their length.

Phish, "Bohemian Rhapsody" – 12/31/96, Boston, MA

For “Bohemian Rhapsody” Phish was aided by the Boston Community Choir, who provided assistance with the song’s complex harmonies. Page noted in The Phish Book that he was a bit nervous about singing the song, as he was losing his voice and contemplating the difficulty of the lead vocals. Not surprisingly, given the vocal difficulties of playing the number, “Bohemian Rhapsody” remains a concert one-timer (though the possibility of a "Rhapsody" reprise existed for short while when A Night At the Opera was among the 99 musical costume possibilities for Festival 8 before being killed off). 

For another amusing take on the song, may we offer the following from The Muppets:

The Muppets, "Bohemian Rhapsody" – © 2009 The Muppets Studio, LLC

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