Watching Freddie at Live Aid, fist punching the air, thousands in the stadium and millions around the world in the palm of his hand, it is hard to imagine anyone more filled with life. And yet, just a few years later, he would be stripped of his energy and his talent as HIV and then AIDS destroyed his body. But his spirit remained vital and vibrant until the very end – as an emotional new documentary reveals.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary since the Queen star was so brutally taken away.
He died at home on November 24, 1991, surrounded by his closest circle, including partner Jim Hutton, ex-girlfriend Mary Austin, and dear friends Peter Freeman, Joe Fanelli and Dave Clarke.
It had been a slow decline and the star had been aware his life was ending. Although he forbade his Queen bandmates from talking about hsi illness with him, he faced his fate with his typical flair and courage, as the new documentary reveals.
Even as his health failed, Freddie had continued recording music, desperate to lay down as many tracks as he could.
In May 1991 he shot the video for These Are The Days of Our Lives before retiring to his West Kensington home and haven, where he would spend his final months safely secreted away from the world.
May described how, a few years before, Freddie had sat his Queen bandmates down and said: “OK, you guys probably know what is going on with me. You know what I am dealing with. I don’t want to talk about it.
“I don’t want to take any action apart from carrying on the way we are. I want to carry on making music for as long as f***ing can. We will not dwell on it and we will go on.”
When that was no longer possible, Freddie retreated to One Garden Lodge, and lived out his final months with his beloved cats and dear friends.
Select visitors like Elton John described how the Queen icon was full of wit and wicked observations to the end, bitching campily about David Bowie, while he ordered presents for a Christmas he knew he would never see. Thinking, as always, of others.
His parents, Jer and Bomi Bulsara, and sister Kashmira visited but were not permitted to return once his health turn its final dramatic turn. Freddie was determined not to put those he loved through the suffering of watching his painful decline.
He released a public statement the day before he died, confirming his AIDS status. Freestone says this gave him the strength to finally let go.
Queen’s Roger Taylor added: “He did not want to be the object of pity or scrutiny, and within 24 hours he was gone. It was probably perfect timing. ‘Bloody good move,’ I thought.”
Freddie Mercury: The Final Act will be shown on BBC2 this month (time TBC), and then available on BBC iPlayer