We’ve all seen the 1992 film Wayne’s World, and everyone can agree that it is one of the most iconic comedies of all time. A surreal parody of rock music, in a similar vein to Spinal Tap, it was released during a time where guitar music was in its supremacy. The year before, Nirvana had announced themselves as de facto leaders of Generation X with the release of their sophomore album Nevermind.
It was sure that Nirvana and their contemporaries would have had numerous Wayne and Garth type characters turning up to their shows, and the writing marvellously shone a light on some of popular culture’s most ridiculous facets in that MTV driven era.
Another thing we can all agree on is that the film has two standout scenes. The first is the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ parody, that, in denying Wayne the opportunity to play it in the guitar store, it culminated in its modern status as the ‘forbidden riff‘.
The second, and the one that is the best known, is the scene at the start of the film when the gang are driving around in Garth’s car, ‘The Mirthmobile’, headbanging to Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
It turns out that Queen were huge fans of the scene. In a 2017 interview with Guitar World, guitarist Brian May revealed all. He recalled that when the film was in production, Mike Myers, who he didn’t know at that point, called him “out of the blue” and said, “‘We’ve done this amazing sequence in our new film—can we have your approval?’”.
At this point, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was succumbing to his protracted battle with the AIDS virus. May took a copy of the segment to Mercury per Myers’ request. Bedbound, May played the clip for Mercury. The once mercurial frontman “loved it”.
May explained: “Strangely enough, the humour in it was quite close to our own. Because we did that kind of thing in the car, bouncing up and down to our own tracks!” Tragically, Mercury passed away in November 1991, three months before the film was released in February 1992, so he never got to watch the complete thing.
Listen to Freddie Mercury’s magic isolated vocals for Queen song ‘Killer Queen’
However, the film would give Queen a lease of life after the death of their iconic frontman. The classic scene sent the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ straight back in the charts and helped Queen rebuild a presence in America after Mercury’s passing, as towards the end of their life, their American fanbase had been dwindling.
“There’s a huge irony there,” May explained, “Because there was a time when we completely owned America and we would tour there every year. It seemed like we couldn’t go wrong. And then we lost America for various reasons, which are now history.”
May finished the anecdote by sharing a candid image of his old friend, painting him to be the legend we all knew he was. Ever the character, even on his way out, Mercury saw the humour in everything, and this carried him right until the end.
May recalled: “Freddie had a very dark sense of humour. And he used to say, ‘I suppose I’ll have to die before we get America back.’ And, in a sense, that was what happened. And it was Wayne’s World—which came completely out of nowhere—that made it happen.”
May’s right. Ever since Wayne’s World was released nearly 30 years ago, it has had a symbiotic relationship with Queen. Next time it comes on when you’re in the car, make sure you give adequate tribute to Freddie Mercury by headbanging till you’re red in the face like Wayne and Co. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road.
Watch the iconic scene below.