Off with Her Head? The Initially Mixed Reaction to Queen’s Iconic Song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Ewbank, Tim. "A first-class hit." Daily Mail, 4 Dec. 1975, p. 19. Daily Mail Historical Archive, 1896-2004

│ by Lily Deans, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham │

Over the past year, the cinematic world has produced numerous biopics which share the stories of stars many of us have grown up with, love and admire. The most memorable one for me was the double BAFTA-winning Bohemian Rhapsody which portrayed the fantastic story of the most talented (in my opinion!) band of the past century: Queen. The film highlighted not only the unparalleled talent of this eclectic band but also the dedication and effort that went into producing the songs we all now know and love. Interestingly, however, one section of the film focused on the release of the now classic song Bohemian Rhapsody in October 1975 and highlighted the initially negative reception of the song (from some critics). This surprised me, as I have come to know Bohemian Rhapsody as a song that passes through generations with adoration and unyielding success. Thus, when I was introduced to Gale Primary Sources, I thought it would be interesting to research the critical reviews of Bohemian Rhapsody in Gale’s online archive, to see first-hand the opinions and negative comments that were made at the time of the song’s release – and to reflect on how questionable they are in retrospect!

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The Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Centenary of the first Jazz record

Jazz-Original-Dixieland-Jazz-Band-elegantly-attired-(2)

In New Orleans, Jazz began its history around 1895 with the cornetist Buddy Bolden, whom Adrian Troy called Jazz’s first great exponent.[1] Bolden was depicted by Michael Ondaatje in his 1976 novella Coming through Slaughter as a jazz pioneer, struggling with alcoholic psychosis. Writing in The Times in 1992, Clive Davis also named Bolden the first legendary New Orleans jazz figure – legendary in that unlikely tales surround his mythical status, such as that ‘on certain nights, his playing could be heard miles away.’[2] Unfortunately, no recordings of Bolden are known to exist and despite the allure of rumored cylinder recordings dating to 1894 we only have the likes of Ondaatje’s novella to evoke the sound of one of the world’s first Jazz icons.[3]

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50 years ago today: celebrating the anniversary of ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

“Garner, Richard, Education Editor. “‘Sgt Pepper’ guaranteed to raise a smile on GCSE syllabus.” Independent, 14 May 2015, p. 15. The Independent Digital Archive, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4rQeL0. © Independent Print Limited”

It was 50 years ago this week that The Beatles issued their ground-breaking album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The third biggest-selling album in the UK (and the top-selling when compilation albums are removed) [1] it remains one of the most influential and recognised albums 50 years after its release (although personally, I prefer Revolver). I took a look back through the collections in Gale Primary Sources to see what I could find out about this iconic album.

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Remembering Elvis: the man behind the legend

Elvis Presley was just 41 when he died in August 1977. So much had been achieved in just over twenty years; a young country boy had risen exponentially to become one of the biggest – perhaps even the biggest – icons of twentieth-century popular culture. Looking back over his career with Gale’s digital archives reveals a more personal, introverted side to the man who became known as ‘the King’.

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