I’m currently preparing the final pieces for the 11th Freddie Mercury’s Montreux Memorial Day which will be taking place next weekend. Someone asked me recently if I was surprised at the way Freddie is still thought about, even now, so many years after he left us. Surprised, perhaps a little, but happy, yes, very! I think it is great the way FFAD has taken off and how it now involves people all over the world, in raising awareness of this dreadful disease HIV/AIDS and also much needed money for the Mercury Phoenix Trust to be able to do it’s part in trying to alleviate the desperation of some in the almost forgotten parts of the world. It makes me proud to know people I count as friends are so involved in this event. Wishing you all the very best for the 5th!
Deba asked if there were any plans for a concert tour of the new orchestral Barcelona album.
I don’t believe there are any plans at the moment, but I do agree with the idea. I think it would be a great event. Can you imagine sitting in an auditorium with this music flowing all over and around you?
Wayne wanted to know if a DVD of Knebworth would be included with the current plans Queen have of releasing older material.
As far as I am aware, there is not enough material filmed to make a DVD of Knebworth. I know there is some film of the tv screens, but the quality is so bad, not much can be done with it.. Roger and Brian are working on some older tracks with Freddie’s voice that should be ready before Christmas, so I think we must just be patient and see what will be released.
Diego asked what is my favourite Queen song and also my favourite of Freddie’s solo work.
As many people know my favourite Queen song is My Melancholy Blues. This is because while I love what Queen do with all the layering of guitars and multi-tracked harmonies, this song reverts to a much simpler format and is much easier to listen to. Of Freddie’s solo work my favourite has to be How Can I Go On from Barcelona. There are a few other tracks which I like including the original orchestral Mr. Bad Guy.
Sinead wanted to know if Freddie was ill during Live Aid.
Knowing how HIV/AIDS progresses, I would have to say, yes he was. If the process holds true, that it takes upto 10 years to become apparent, Freddie contracted HIV sometime during the late 70s early 80s, so technically he was sick. Having said that, he showed no symptoms until 1987 and never complained about any illness or pain. He felt no different when touring in 1980 until the end of the Magic Tour at Knebworth when he did say that he was feeling tired, but put that down to the length of the tour and the size of the venues which took a lot out of him as he would still cover all the stage even though they were so much bigger.
Eric wanted to know who actually lived at Garden Lodge.
Here is a short history of Freddie’s Garden Lodge. Freddie saw and fell in love with Garden Lodge in 1979. He bought it in early 1980 and then spent 5 years and a lot of money in restoring it to its original Edwardian splendour, including the musician’s gallery in the drawing room, and adding a new dining room. It was ready for occupation in 1985 and due to a clause in the insurance policy; it had to be lived in. It was decided I would live there while Freddie went on tour with Joe Fanelli to look after him. When the tour finished, Freddie sent Oscar and Tiffany to me in Garden Lodge from his flat in Stafford Terrace. They liked it, so Freddie decided to move in. Along with Freddie came Jim Hutton and Joe Fanelli. We were the 4 people who lived there. Obviously there were many people who visited and stayed for a time, but it was mainly the four of us with me living in the mews once that had been renovated.
Tomas asked what language Freddie spoke to his family in.
Any time I heard Freddie talking to any of his family he only spoke English. This was the language he had been taught at school and generally spoke at home. Another question was how Freddie acquired his accent. Again, this was how he was taught to speak at boarding school. The schools in India at this time were run on the English Boarding School regimen, with the exam papers coming from the UK.
Melinda and many others have asked what Freddie’s relationship with John Deacon was like.
When John joined Queen Freddie sort of took John under his wing, to try to protect him from the extremes of the rock and roll lifestyle as Freddie felt John was the most innocent of the group. They became very good friends and Freddie was very happy when John found stability in the form of his wife Veronica. They would work closely in the studio and you will notice that there are a couple of Deacon/Mercury compositions as John felt that they would not have happened without Freddie’s input. Freddie’s ill health affected John greatly as he felt powerless to help his friend and I believe that is one of the reasons behind John leaving the music business in 1997.
Dave wanted to know if Freddie ever returned to his apartment in New York after he left there and went to Munich.
Sadly, Freddie never returned there. He felt his life had moved on and while he carried some great memories from his time in New York, his future was in Munich recording and his new friends there. Freddie saw his friends from Manhattan when he flew them over to Garden Lodge to spend time with him and go to shows. It was used by a few of his friends and I remember flying in to tidy and clean the place when Misa Watanabe, Freddie’s good friend from Japan was going to visit. I also got to stay there in 1991 with my father when we visited New York on our trip to Australia.
Ramona asked how important friendship was to Freddie.
It was the most important thing in the world. Freddie knew the value of true friendship as he had spent so much of his life as a star having to decide who wanted to know and talk to Freddie the person or to be close to Freddie the star. He had quite a few friends and very rarely made mistakes in deciding who were real friends and who were not. It disappointed him greatly on the occasions when his judgment failed him.
I know many Hard Rock Cafes around the globe have prepared complete Freddie days for the 5th. It is wonderful the extent Freddie has affected people and their lives over the years and even now. I think of him most days, imagining him looking down and laughing at my latest project. Enjoy supporting FFAD and have fun!