Freddie Mercury's Bohemian Rhapsody Handwritten Lyrics Sold For £1.38m

© Queen Music Ltd/Sony Music Publishing UK Ltd

Handwritten working lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody c. 1974

Handwritten lyrics by Freddie Mercury lead the first night of the Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own auction at Sotheby's last night, eventually going for £1,379,000. 

Every lot sold in the 'white glove' auction which made a total of £12.2m/$15.4m, including Queen frontman's Freddie's Yamaha piano, jewels, art, clothes, antiques, instruments, and stage-wear.

Topping the sale was the extensive and detailed handwritten draft for the lyrics to the operatic Bohemian Rhapsody. Written in pencil and ballpoint on 15 pages of British Midland Airways stationery including vocal harmonies, these include the alternative title Mongolian Rhapsody, alternate lines ("Time for good-byes now, is this reality") and an abandoned set of verses beginning: "Mama, Thare's a war began/ I've got to leave tonight".

Other highlights included autograph draft lyrics for:

* Killer Queen, c.1974, which were sold for £279,400, eight pages including a near-complete version of the whole song in black ink, plus earlier, less complete drafts and fragments in pencil

* Somebody To Love, c.1976, seven pages, including one page with early unused lyrics, and revised drafts of all four verses, which realized £241,300

* We Are The Champions, c.1977, sold for £317,000, two leaves of draft lyrics with an early version of the two verses with alternate lines and possible rhyme words ("dues"/"clues", "strangled/mishandled"); one leaf of draft lyrics with an early version of the first verse with additional lines and possible rhyme words; four leaves of draft lyrics of the complete song with verses and chorus; a further two leaves of vocal harmonies

* Don't Stop Me Now, c.1978, estimate £120,000-£180,000, eventually making £317,500, four pages each with a partial revised draft of the song, on lined A4 paper, and three additional pages with early fragments

Additionally, Freddie Mercury's notebook with autograph manuscript lyrics c.1978 for songs on the album Jazz, among them Let Me Entertain You, Don't Stop Me Now, and Bicycle Race. It was sold for £330,200 and featured multiple drafts of most songs with extensive revisions as well as three leaves loosely inserted, containing set lists and a photocopy of lyrics to Fun It in the hand of the band's drummer Roger Taylor