Speaking in a 2017 interview, Brian May candidly recalled how Mercury was working on a new song, Mother Love, when he passed away back in 1991.
It was in November of that year that he confirmed previous media speculation that he was ill with AIDS, and he died the next day.
In the lead-up to that, he was working hard in a studio in Montreux – it’s said that he recorded his final vocals there in May 1991.
“What we did was get on with business as usual, which is what Freddie wanted,” May told The Times.
“He said, ‘I don’t want anything to change. We just do what we always do and we love what we do, so it’s going to be fine.’
“Certainly those days towards the end were fabulous, full of laughter and joy, Freddie as wicked as ever.
“He was incredibly matter-of-fact about everything. ‘Oh darling, I’ll just get on with it.’ There wasn’t any self-pity at all.”
They worked on a song, which eventually became Mother Love.
“He wanted a ballad, so I very quickly sketched something in the studio and Freddie liked it,” May recalled.
“He said, ‘Gimme some words’. It was a question of scribbling a few lines and he’d chuck a couple of vodkas down — because he could hardly stand at that point — ‘Oh darling, I’ll do it now.’
“Then he’d prop himself up on the desk and sing the lines. We didn’t quite get to the end.
“I gave him the last verse and he said, ‘Oh darling, I’m not feeling too good now, so I’ll come back to it. In a couple of days I’ll be fine, we’ll do it then.’ And he never did.”
Queen’s legacy – and Mercury’s legacy in particular – has continued to thrive since.
Last year, the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody – in which Rami Malek played him – became a record-breaking success, and earlier in 2019 it won more Oscars than any other film this year.
May, together with Roger Taylor, is keeping the band going now as they tour North America on their Rhapsody Tour.
Adam Lambert is singing with them on vocals, and they’ll continue the jaunt to other territories in early 2020.