Singer’s handwritten lyrics for band’s 1975 classic, written on airline stationery, among 1,500 personal items in upcoming Sotheby’s auction
Freddie Mercury’s handwritten lyrics for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” reveal that the song was nearly titled “Mongolian Rhapsody,” according to a lyric sheet bound for auction this month.
Sotheby’s previously announced their impending auction of 1,500 personal items belonging to the Queen singer, and on Thursday, the auction house revealed more of what’s hitting the block, including Mercury’s sprawling 15 pages of lyrics — written on stationary for a defunct airline — for what would eventually become “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
As the handwritten lyrics reveal, the song was originally titled “Mongolian Rhapsody” before Mercury crossed it out and replaced it with the similarly syllabic “Bohemian.”
The working lyrics also feature a handful of unused verses — “Mama/There’s a war began/I’ve got to leave tonight,” one page has jotted down — as well as dozens of alternative words that could have been sung in lieu of “Galileo!,” “Scaramouch!” and “Fandango”: “Momento,” “Belladonna,” “Matador,” to name just a few. (Similarly, the Mercury colloquialism “silhouetto” is also written on this page.)
The lyric sheets for “
Mongolian Bohemian Rhapsody” are expected to fetch between £800,000 to £1.2 million at auction, Sotheby’s estimates, making it one of the most expensive items at the Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own event.
Mercury’s handwritten lyrics for Queen classics like “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Killer Queen” will also hit the auction block in September following the June tour of Mercury’s belongings to Sotheby’s houses in New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.
A portion of the sale’s income will go to both the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.