Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mama... he just killed a song

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EDSON, Alta. -- The latest singing sensation on YouTube is an Alberta man who belts out the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" while riding in the back of an RCMP cruiser.

The video of Robert Wilkinson has had at least 1.6 million hits and has made news around the world.

But the 29-year-old is nonchalant about his newfound fame. He says his friends think the video is hilarious. His mother? Not so much.

"My mother is ashamed and she probably might never speak to me again," Wilkinson said Friday.

Wilkinson was arrested last November while driving home from a bar in his hometown of Edson, about 150 kilometres west of Edmonton. He was charged with impaired driving and refusing a breathalyzer test.

On the video, Wilkinson pleads his case with officers, then decides to express his emotions through the music of the iconic rock band Queen.

The scruffy, bearded man carefully takes off his glasses before launching into the six-minute performance -- complete with hand gestures and head-banging. Incredibly, he remembers nearly all of the words.

"Easy come, easy go. Will you let me go?" sings Wilkinson. "Oh mama mia, let me go...."

At one point, after drumming on the plastic barricade, an officer says: "Robert, calm down.

"I can't," says Wilkinson, quickly slipping back into song.

He ends with the second-last line of the tune, but changes it from "Nothing really matters to me" to "Nothing really matters, even the RCMP."

The grainy black-and-white video is clearly taken from a camera in the police car, but RCMP said they did not illegally release the video. It was sent to Wilkinson in a disclosure package as evidence for his trial this fall.

He said he uploaded the video earlier this month at the urging of his friends.

Wilkinson added that he hopes the video doesn't send a bad message to young people. "I don't want them to think that they'll get attention for driving around drunk and getting picked up by the cops.

"I hope nobody ever drives drunk again."

Wilkinson said he is unemployed and likes to sing karaoke. He often listens to the soundtrack from the "Wayne's World" movie that includes "Bohemian Rhapsody."

He thought the tune was suitable for sitting in the back of a police car. He said the officer who was driving "kept his cool the entire time."

When asked how he was able to remember all the lyrics, Wilkinson rattled off several digits of the mathematical constant Pi.

"Dude, you are my new hero!" wrote Sami Rautiainen of Germany. "Didn't see why you got arrested (hopefully you didn't kill a man) and don't really care, but the police car back-seat action was the reason Internet was invented!

"And props for singing the entire song! I couldn't do that even when I'm sober."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2012 A31

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