Arts & Entertainment

Freddie Mercury’s magnum opus started life as “Mongolian Rhapsody”

By Javier Otazu

New York, Jun 1 (EFE).- Queen singer and front man Freddie Mercury’s original title for what would become his best-known song was “Mongolian Rhapsody,” a manuscript set to be sold at auction shows.

The document, comprising 15 pages of (long-defunct) British Midland Airways stationery with 1974 calendar, is part of the collection “Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own,” scheduled to go on sale in September at Sotheby’s London.

Prior to the auction, selected items from the collection are being made available for public view at Sotheby’s locations around the world, including here in New York.

Besides “Bohemian Rhapsody,” buyers will get the chance to bid on Mercury’s handwritten drafts for other Queen hits such as “We Are the Champions” and “Somebody to Love” – all of them on British Midland stationary.

“He was the type of person who grabbed the first thing that came to hand when he got an idea,” Sotheby’s Senior Vice President Cassandra Hatton told EFE.

She added, however, that while at first glance the manuscripts convey an impression of “disorder,” a closer examination reveals that Mercury (1946-1991) was a perfectionist.

And in the case of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” his efforts were richly rewarded, as it remains the best-selling British single in history, with more than 6 million copies sold worldwide.

Sotheby’s estimates that the “Bohemian Rhapsody” manuscript will command a price of between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Also on view at Sotheby’s New York are the crown Mercury sported onstage during a 1986 tour and a pair of Adidas sneakers he wore for the 1985 LiveAid concert.

Visitors likewise saw his coiled silver snake chain bangle, a custom leather jacket he wore for Queen’s only appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in 1982, and the sterling silver comb he used on his moustache.

All of the items have been provided by Mary Austin, Mercury’s friend and heir, who plans to donate some of the proceeds of the auction to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Austin has preserved the collection at the London mansion Mercury occupied until his death from complications of AIDS.

EFE fjo/dr

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