Oh well, New Year has come and gone and already the end of January is beckoning. Weather here in Czech Republic is strange. Normally the ground is covered in snow and hard with temperatures hovering around 0 C or under, but yesterday full sunshine and 14C!
Dante asked what really happened at Puebla, in Mexico, on the tour in 1981.
From my memory it went something like this. As the audience were being let into the stadium, the police searched everybody looking for recording equipment. Anything they found, rather than confiscating the whole thing, the police removed the batteries and let the fan keep the recorder. The problem arose when police on the inside of the venue were then selling the batteries back to the fans. Obviously the fans weren’t happy about this and some thought the band were getting some of this money and started throwing things at the stage. I still have one of the bolts that nearly hit Freddie. There is a photo on the internet with Freddie and Roger holding it.
Mario wondered what happened to the Argentinean football jersey Freddie wears in some photos.
At one of the shows in Argentina the band were introduced to Maradonna and he exchanged a football shirt for some Queen merchandise. Freddie then wore the shirt to pose with the rest of the band and the footballer. This shirt, along with many other stage clothes and Freddie’s day to day wear, were in Garden Lodge at the time I left in February 1992.
Kerry asked what Freddie thought of his background.
Freddie spoke very little about his roots. In interviews, when asked, he would refer to himself as being of Persian decent. This was true, but sort of slid around the truth a bit as the Parsis, originally from Persia, left that land about 1,000 years ago, with many of them settling in North West India. This statement also added an exotic touch to his background. When Freddie was born, in Zanzibar, part of the British Empire at the time, in 1946 he was a British citizen and remained proud of that fact till the day he died.
Diego asked what Freddie thought about Italy.
I have answered this before, but it has been asked a few times recently. Freddie had nothing against Italy. In my time with him we went to Milan on tour and also to San Remo. Freddie loved the historical aspect of the country, its art and music, but maybe listened too much to people who talked about the frenetic pace and some disorganisation in transport schedules. One of the reasons tours were hard to organise in Italy in those days was promoters didn’t always come through with the conditions of a contract they had agreed on. I know we had a couple of problems with transport when Freddie was told a car would be at the hotel to take him to the venue and we had to wait ½ an hour for the car to eventually arrive. There were no mobole phones in those days to quickly find out what was happening. If something was written in the tour itinerary, it had to be adhered to.
Antonije, amongst many others asked another popular question, what workouts did Freddie do.
Freddie had no specific workout schedule. He was one of those very lucky people whose body was naturally fit. He had a very fast metabolism, so he burned fat quickly. He was also very active and didn’t like spending time lying in bed or sitting on the sofa. You’ve seen in video shots from shows that he did some running on the spot and small jumps before a show, which was really just to warm up his body for what would essentially be a 2 hour workout on the stage. If you think Queen toured the world each year, there were a lot of intense exercise.
Caroline wanted to know how we celebrated the cat’s birthdays.
Really the cats’ birthdays were celebrated on the day they arrived in Garden Lodge as some were older than others when they arrived. Obviously this meant a double party for Delilah and Goliath. As you all know, Freddie loved parties and this was just another reason to throw one. All of us around Freddie at Garden Lodge would gather round as Freddie would give the cat a new toy, usually a catnip filled mouse or something like that, and Freddie would actually put the birthday cat’s food down.
Kriszti asked which Freddie’s flat in Montreux was.
The flat that Freddie bought was on the top floor of a building right on the lake very close to Territet station in Montreux. It is included on the Tourist board tour that happened last year and is being planned again for this year. We walk by it on the roadside and you also get to see it from a boat on the lake. There are some pictures in the Studio Exhibition of the inside and it is lovely to be able to imagine what it was like when Freddie was there. You also see the balcony where Freddie would sit and you can actually see where some of his lyrics came from.
Jean wanted to know if Freddie was ever inspired by the moon or the sun.
I don’t know if they were ever an inspiration for Freddie, but I do know he appreciated them both. He loved to feel the sun on his face in the spring and often he would go into the garden at Garden Lodge when he was able to see a full moon. Most of his songs were about the emotions coming from love, whether they came from the sun or the moon, I can’t say.
Mark wanted to know if the announcement of Freddie’s illness and his passing within hours were planned in any way.
Not really. There was a plan to make the announcement before Freddie died, but that was as far as it went. After Freddie came back from Switzerland on the 10th November 1991 and made his decision to stop his medication, it obviously passed through his mind to make the statement. Freddie and Jim Beach had talked about this for quite a while, but now it was time to make the real statement. Jim had to go to USA and basically they found a time to complete it before his departure. The statement was released to the world at 20.00 on Friday 22nd November. There was no indication at that time that Freddie would slip away so quickly. We all knew it could not be too long, but Freddie’s doctor had said that he could be with us for quite a few days longer. I tend to feel that Freddie had decided he had had enough and it was time to go under his own terms.
Dominique asked about Freddie’s feelings afor the playback performance at the La Nit Festival in Barcelona.
I can say he was not very happy about it. Not because it was playback, that had been decided upon a long time before, as Freddie would do the performance live without rehearsal and there was never a time that Freddie and Montserrat could be together to rehearse. The problem was that the performances were being filmed with the idea to use the footage for video clips, but the playback was played at the wrong speed. Only very slightly wrong, but it made it very difficult to edit the video to the original sound track without it looking like very back lip-syncing.
I wish you all the best for the coming year and I look forward to actually meeting a few of you somewhere in the world.