Was there anything, in particular, Freddie felt about Christmas? This and variations have come up.
You must remember Freddie was very traditional in his thinking and feeling. Christmas was a time to gather friends together and do festive things. I remember on a few occasions he led a group of friends singing Christmas carols around his piano on Christmas Eve. Mike Moran would be on hand tinkling the ivories and any friends who had dropped by would provide the voices. He also didn’t like the idea of any of his friends being alone on the 25th, so if there was a possibility someone would be alone, they were invited to Garden Lodge for the day. Once we had to cook two huge turkeys plus all the accompaniments, 3 different stuffings, potatoes, vegetables, Christmas puddings and Christmas cake for 25 people!
Another popular question is what was Freddie like before a show?
There were a few nerves, that was only natural when he was going out to face anything up to 350,000 people, but really they were very much under control. He dissipated them with his usual routine. About an hour before a show the dressing room would be emptied and the band would start getting dressed. Freddie put on most of his costume, leaving off the jacket and then would put on the little makeup that he used, a bit of the old theatrical makeup no.5 and no. 9 on his face and of course the eyeliner. During this time he would be trying out his voice and Trip, the sound engineer would come in to gauge how Freddie’s vocals would be. If there was a problem with the high noted everyone knew Freddie would sing down an octave and Roger would take the high line and the sound would be adjusted accordingly. Then at show time with his hot lemon and honey in hand Freddie would go to the stage….
What would I describe as the most unique thing about Freddie professionally?
I suppose for me it would be his voice. He had very little training, he was in the school choir when he was in school and he took piano lessons and exams which would have included some vocal tests. You can hear the difference in his voice in recordings from the 70s and 80s, both of which he created himself. Naturally, he was a baritone but all of his vocal idols, and the ones popular when he started had very high voices….Robert Plant is an example. Because of this he created his own tenor style of singing, earlier it was a much lighter voice, but as his career progressed he brought more body and weight to it while still having a large vocal range.
A popular question is who filmed the ‘Garden Lodge taped’ seen on youtube?
They were actually filmed on Freddie’s video recorder and on his tapes by Joe Fanelli’s boyfriend at the time. As they were Freddie’s property, I have always wondered how they made their way onto the internet.
Another topic raised quite often is if Freddie knew he was sick during the Magic Tour.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say he knew he was sick, but I have an idea that he knew something was wrong and he suspected the reason. It was a massive tour by any standards, only playing big stadiums all around Europe, but he was feeling much more tired than usual and for him, shows were what he did and he knew how to pace himself. At the end of the tour, he was exhausted and that was when he said he wouldn’t tour again for quite a while. When he was at home he really had the time to ponder on the realities of his life and accept what might be really wrong. He didn’t have confirmation of this until Easter 1987.
Once again, a popular question is what were Freddie’s favourite meals?
When Freddie was well, for the first 7 years of my employ, he loved spicy food, spicy, not necessarily hot with chillies, and also traditional English dishes. I helped Joe cook for Freddie and when Joe became sick I took over the cuisine. One of Freddie’s favourite meals was a chicken Dhansak, based on an idea he gave us of his mother’s cooking. Actually, quite a few things were taken from his mother, the food she cooked for him when he was younger. He loved traditional Sunday roasts and we would have one every Sunday.
If anyone is interested I have put a collection of recipes for meals I cooked for Freddie at Garden Lodge, and a couple of other places and it is available at the following link - www.freddiemercurysroyalrecipes.com
Have a great time till the next one!