Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Had Another Title in Freddy Mercury’s Mind

A recently found draft of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen shows that Freddie Mercury first wanted to call the song “Mongolian Rhapsody.”

Handwritten copies of Mercury’s lyrics, including early versions of “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Somebody to Love,” are up for sale at Sotheby’s New York until June 8.

Mercury’s London home had a personal collection of songs, including an early version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” where he had written “Mongolian Rhapsody” in black and blue ink but later crossed out “Mongolian” and wrote “Bohemian” instead.

Also, the famous first line, “Mama, I just killed a man” was changed to “Mama, there’s a war started.” Some of the words in the original drafts, like “matador” and “belladonna,” were left out of the song’s final version.

Gabriel Heaton, an expert in books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, talked about the significance of these discoveries by saying that they show how much Mercury rewrote his songs.

The “autograph working lyrics” for “Bohemian Rhapsody” could bring up to $1.5 million at the sale. “Don’t Stop Me Now” manuscripts are worth up to $225,000, and “We Are the Champions” “lyrical pages” are worth up to $370,000.

A friend of Mercury’s, Wendy de Smet, was asked by Mercury to create a two-piece stage outfit for Mercury to wear in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video. The collection also includes the lyrics and the clothes Mercury wore in the video.

The band’s representative, Universal Music Group, said that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was the most-streamed song of the 20th century, with over 1.6 billion views of the song and its music video at the time.