Inspired by the November 12 birthdays of Neil Young, Bay City Rollers’ Les McKeown, Blue Oyster Cult’s Buck Dharma, Booker T. Jones, Hot Chocolate’s Errol Brown, Brian Hyland, and Tevin Campbell.
Inspired by National Chocolate Day and the October 28 birthdays of Frank Ocean, Jamie xx, Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels, Wayne Fontana, Curtis Lee, Ben Harper, Friend & Lover’s Jim Post and Bob & Marcia’s Bob Andy; and National Black Cat Day and the October 27 birthday of John Cleese.
In October of 1975, the band Queen played for their manager, John Reid, a song they recently finished recording that they wanted to release as their next single. Reid told them the track would not get any airplay. He played it for another artist he managed, Elton John, who reportedly said “Are you mad? You’ll never get that on the radio!”
Queen stayed firm, not relenting when their record company begged them to at least edit the song down from its nearly six-minute duration.
To promote the song, the band was invited to play on England’s hugely successful Top of the Pops television program. They were unable to appear due to tour commitments, so they did something that wasn’t very common in 1975 – they filmed a videoclip. Top of the Pops aired the clip. As the song rose up the charts, the video was shown repeatedly. Soon other artists in the UK made videos for their records, which is why when MTV launched in the United States in 1981, many of the clips they aired were of UK acts.
The single, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” went to #1 in England in December of that year, where it stayed for nine weeks. It got knocked from the top spot by a song whose title consisted of a phrase used in “Bohemian Rhapsody” – ABBA’s “Mamma Mia.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit #1 again there in December of 1991, a few weeks after the death of the band’s lead singer and the song’s composer, Freddie Mercury.
In the United States, the song didn’t go to #1, but it did hit the top ten in 1976 and 1992.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour revisits 1976 (part I can be found here), kicking off with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Today is the 57th birthday of English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. My favorite song of his is “Sexuality,” a #2 US Modern Rock hit from 1991. Co-written with The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, “Sexuality” is, as described by Wayne Studer in his book Rock on the Wild Side, “a bouncy, ringing celebration of healthy, open-minded live-and-let-live attitudes about the human body and human relationships.” Singing “your laws do not apply to me” and “I demand equality,” this is a protest song that remains relevant 20+ years later.
In celebration of “Sexuality,” today’s playlist consists of twenty songs with the word sex or some variant thereof in the title. Get down!
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