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How Two DJ’s Turned ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen Into a Hit Before Its Release Date

In a new episode of Today I Found Out, host Simon Whistler tells of how the iconic Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” gained a such huge following in both the United Kingdom and the United States before the record label ever approved its release. Clocking in at 5 minutes and 55 seconds long and encompassing elements of hard rock, opera and pop, Bohemian Rhapsody is certainly one of the more eclectic songs to make it into the charts, but it’s by no means the longest. Hey Jude by The Beatles (7:11), I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) by Meatloaf (7:58) and All Around The World by Oasis (9:38) are all songs that have managed to squeak their way into the charts despite being about twice the length of most other pop songs. That said, the fact that there are so few songs over 5 minutes in length that have gained that much airtime is a testament to how rare of an occurrence that actually is.

The one person who saw the genius of the song, other than the band of course, was famed DJ and a close friend of Mercury, Kenny Everett, who famously stated that it was “going to be number one for centuries.” …Despite the “strict” instructions not to play it, immediately after getting a copy of the single, Everett began playing clips of the song on his morning show on Capital FM, a popular London based radio station. …A similar thing was happening on the other side of the pond when Paul Drew of RKO managed to wrangle a copy of the song from somewhere and started playing it across the RKO network of stations. …With the song already something of a hit on the radio even before being released, the label relented and on the 31st of October, 1975, Bohemian Rhapsody was officially released as a single in the UK where it spent 9 weeks at number one.