What started as a way to entertain his children on their way to school one morning has become a family tradition for one Marietta father. It’s also become a worldwide sensation on YouTube.
Robby Parker, 42, was recently named one of Parenting magazine’s “Coolest Dads in America.”
Parker was recognized after news media outlets and people from all over the world checked out the YouTube rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” sung him and his three children, Schuyler, Zoe and Callum.
“It was all over the place,” Parker said. “Watching the whole process of how it blew up, the experience was pretty cool.”
He uploaded it to the website last April and it has been viewed by more than 4.8 million people with 6,100 people commenting on it.
The busy father of three, who was born and raised in Marietta, is a financial adviser by day and a part-time law school student at Georgia State University at night.
“That’s why the morning rides are important to us,” he said. “One of the little bits of time I get with the kids.”
‘The crazy song’
Parker never intended to video his kids singing the 1975 song but said it’s something that just happened.
“At that time, the kids would fight over what to listen to in the car,” he said.
So, Parker showed the children another rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody he found online to keep them entertained.
“I did the whole song for them that day and they were kind of laughing at me but the next day when I picked them up, they asked if they could hear the ‘crazy song’ again,” he said.
They would listen to it while driving to West Side Elementary in Marietta each morning.
By the end of the week, his children knew almost every word to the song.
“I learned that, at night, they were apparently asking their mom to play it for them,” he said.
Parker decided to video the morning tradition, showed it to his ex-wife and everyone got a huge kick out of it. And because he previously had trouble finding uploaded videos on his Facebook account, a friend posted it on YouTube and that’s when it went viral.
Media outlets came out of the woodwork to talk to Parker about the worldwide hit.
He was interviewed on Good Morning America, The Today Show and a New Zealand radio station, and his Facebook page was busy with comments from friends all over the place.
“A friend checked out how many times it was mentioned on TV, from local to national news, and I think it was like 50 million times,” he said.
It was posted on Yahoo’s home screen and that website alone had 2.5 million views.
His oldest child, 9-year-old Schuyler, was thrilled by the coverage.
“She asked if we were going to make any money off of it,” Parker said, laughing.
“It was unexpected because we thought that just mom was going to see it but then it started to spread and then it got on the news and then got on the news everywhere,” Schuyler said. “It was awesome!”
More than just a YouTube sensation
The celebrity of the YouTube video is not the only thing that Schuyler said makes her father a wonderful dad.
“There are things that are better, like going to Six Flags and even like going out to restaurants,” she said. “I just think he’s the greatest dad because he likes to have fun with us.”
His 7-year-old daughter, Zoe, was a little turned off by the fame.
“She didn’t want to do anything again,” he said. “She came up to me some time last year and actually said, ‘I don’t want to be famous anymore.’”
His youngest child, 4-year-old Callum, didn’t have a care in the world about it, but he did make quite a name for himself in a Florida restaurant during a vacation shortly after the video went viral.
“He was 3 at the time and started singing it a cappella at the table,” Parker remembered. “He apparently sang the entire song to where the people at the next table were singing with him. I think he ended up getting a round of applause.”
About a year later, Parker was contacted by Parenting magazine about the recognition and was honored to hear that they’d selected him for the “Coolest Dad” edition.
“From a parent’s perspective, this is something that probably in 20 years it’ll be even more special because they grow up so fast,” he said. “Even in the past year, my kids have changed so much.”
Sharing this memory with his children now and in the future is what’s made the whole ride so meaningful.
“Being able to go back and seeing that moment as a kid is special,” he said. “I just love spending time with them.”