It was November 1991, and Freddie Mercury lay in bed in his king-size bed in the yellow-painted bedroom in his West London home.
Garden Lodge was one of the grandest private houses in Kensington and its contents — a fabulous collection of exquisite antiques, artworks and gilded Louis XV furniture — were more than a match for it.
The greatest rock star had very little time to live it. At 45 years of age, the star in rock was at the end.
Dr Gordon Atkinson, his GP had earlier warned Freddie and his carers (including his loved ex-girlfriend Mary Austin) that his days would soon be over.
Mary was stroking Freddie’s thick, black hair while she sat by his bedside. His body was ravaged by Aids, leaving him emaciated and in terrible pain.
The only people he allowed into his home were his loyal friends and family, who did all that they could to help him be as comfortable and happy as possible.
He decided to stop taking the medicine that could have saved his eyesight. He knew it was his time to end the journey.
Mary heard him whisper, “I’ve had enough,”
David Wigg, a journalist, is pictured in Munich with Freddie Mercury (Queen frontman).
Freddie wanted one more thing: he requested that she play a clip of Queen’s most memorable performance.
He wanted to relive how he had conquered audiences with his charisma, dazzling stage presence — and surely the greatest voice in rock music.
As the footage ended, Freddie turned to her and said to: ‘I thought I was good-looking when.
‘You’re still good-looking!’ Her instant response was “You’re still good-looking!”
Mary was near tears, and Freddie decreed that nobody should be seen crying in his presence. Mary left the room.
He rang his bell at the bedside to summon help, shortly after which everyone ran to the bedroom.
They arrived at the destination to find Freddie gone at last.
The sad November 24, 1991 date marks 30 years ago, yet the Freddie Mercury legend continues to live on.
It is possible that he sang “Who Wants To Live Forever?”He might have said that the prospect seemed unappealing. But, it turns out that he did, and through his music.
Queen are the fourth-most popular artist, after Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, having sold more than 300,000,000 records.
The Oscar-winning 2018 biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which recounted Freddie’s life, has taken almost £1 billion globally.
Tonight, BBC2 will show Freddie Mercury: the Final Act, a feature-length documentary that details the remarkable last chapter in Freddie’s story.
Freddie and Mary Austin, his faithful ex-girlfriend at his 38th Birthday Party after his 1985 Wembley Arena Concert
This book features interviews with his bandmates Brian May, Roger Taylor and Kashmira Bulsara. It also includes contributions by those who were there at Freddie’s tribute concert at Wembley on April 22, 1992.
Peter Tatchell and HIV survivors are joined by doctors to talk about the intense experience of living during the Aids crisis.
It was a difficult time for me as a broadcaster and music journalist. I watched Freddie, along with many others, go unremembered.
I knew Freddie for sixteen years by the time he passed away. I met Freddie often in Chelsea where I lived or at Tramp’s club scene or San Lorenzo.
Queen and I went to gigs in all parts of the world, from Paris to LA and New York. Twelve interviews were conducted together, and it was hard to count the amount of Freddie’s extravagant and extravagant parties that I went to.
My first interview with Kenny Everett in 1974 will be a memory I’ll never forget. Our first meeting was at September on London’s Fulham Road. There, Kenny Everett (radio 1 DJ, TV presenter) introduced us.
Kenny would eventually help Queen achieve stardom, playing the 1975 hit Bohemian Rhapsody 14x over two days after his death from Aids. This was after major radio stations had stopped listening to its 6 minutes length.
Freddie said that he enjoyed the interviews with Beatles and asked me: “Why don’t you interview me yet?”
It was over. After a concert in Birmingham, we agreed to interview each other in the dressing room.
It was quite the entrance. He stormed back in at the end of the two hour show and grabbed his clothes iron. It was obvious that he is not superstitious.
Freddie in his iconic yellow jacket and white pants while performing at Wembley
A faulty microphone at the stage had triggered his outburst. Freddie had blown his top, even though the crowd was not aware of anything wrong.
He calmed down and I inquired whether it was worthwhile getting so mad over a topic his fans did not know.
‘Some people can take second best — but I can’t,’ he replied.
“If you want to be the number one person, number two won’t do.”
He then slapped my knee and burst into laughter.
‘I’m not just going to be a rock star — I’m going to be a legend like Nureyev. It’s not like I want to become another old ham who keeps on going.
“I would rather be at the top.” My life is about wonderful experiences.
Don’t be boring about what you think of me.
He was nothing but a bore. It was outrageous.
This is the man who sang Bohemian Rhapsody while being held upside down by Royal Ballet dancers, who belted out I Want To Break Free in full drag before thousands of screaming Brazilians at 1985’s Rock In Rio festival, and, unforgettably, stole the show at Live Aid in 1985 as almost 2 billion people — 40 per cent of the world’s population — watched in awe.
He was scheduled to interview me for a television interview in Munich, 1984. It was one of my most memorable experiences.
When I reached the luxury apartment Freddie rented for me, Phoebe, his assistant Peter Freestone gave it to me as Phoebe, welcomed me.
Peter explained to me that Freddie was waiting in the sitting room for you.
DAVID WIGG: I thought: how could you ever be boring? It was completely outrageous. This is the man who sang Bohemian Rhapsody while being held upside down by Royal Ballet dancers, who belted out I Want To Break Free in full drag before thousands of screaming Brazilians at 1985’s Rock In Rio festival, and, unforgettably, stole the show at Live Aid in 1985 as almost 2 billion people — 40 per cent of the world’s population — watched in awe. (Pictured: Freddie Mercury)
He led me down the corridor and opened the door — where I beheld Freddie, three strapping young German men and the Austrian actress Barbara Valentin — all naked and romping on the floor together.
Freddie looked at me and replied: “Ah David, I’m glad you came.” Are you interested in joining us?
I made a joke and stated, “I’ll have a glass with Phoebe, Freddie!”
Freddie was a firm believer in the absurdity of parties.
His 40th anniversary at Pike’s Hotel Ibiza, 1986 was my favorite. A beautiful building with a thatched roof where Wham! The video was recorded for the single Club Tropicana.
Freddie flew a group to the airport and put us up in style. This time, Freddie wanted everything to go smoothly so he sent his staff downtown and invited all of the local transvestites.
As we watched, we were agog when, soon enough, all the transvestites in Ibiza began to clamber up the hill on their heels. Freddie had placed balloons around the pool, filled with helium. One of the transvestites lit a cigarette and a ribbon tied to a balloon caught fire.
DAVID WIGG – Freddie was a big believer in the absurdity of parties. (Photo: Freddie Mercury, Wembley Stadium at Live Aid on July 13, 1985
We watched as the balloon flew into the air and were mesmerized by the progression of the flame up the ribbon toward the balloon.
It eventually exploded with a great bang and the flaming remnants fell on to the hotel’s thatched roof — which immediately caught fire.
The fire brigade did a great job putting out the flames and half the roof was gone. Freddie suggested that they be joined by the Spanish firemen, who had done a fantastic job and looked smart in their uniforms.
It was truly a memorable night: Freddie and his closest friends, firemen, and tranvestites from Ibiza partying all night.
On another birthday, he flew all his friends to Munich in a private plane, but only if we agreed to dress in black and white — and as the opposite sex.
Freddie was a perfectionist and provided professional make-up artists who transformed us into the celebrity that we desired.
The carriage ride took us through the cobbled streets and to Old Mrs Henderson’s nightclub in Munich. Freddie transformed it with glitter, diamante walls, and lights.
It was a throbbing music scene, and champagne flowed till dawn when mascara began to dry. Here’s how I remember Freddie.
Peter ‘Phoebe’ Freestone described those final days to me as: ‘They were very difficult times, but Freddie did not get depressed. He accepted the reality that he would die.
‘After all, we’re all going to die some day — and could you imagine an old Freddie Mercury? “I don’t think so.
As the day neared, Freddie began to worry that his grave could become a target and be defiled by fans.
DAVID WIGG: Freddie’s favourite mantra — one he repeated to me often — was: ‘Life is for living: life is for fun. F*** tomorrow, it’s today what counts, dear.’ (Pictured: Freddie in 1973)
Mary Austin said that he didn’t wish anyone to find him, as had happened with other celebrities. “Fans can become obsessive.” It should remain secret.
Mary, whom Freddie used as his common law wife’. He left Garden Lodge with half his Queen recording, songwriting, and royalty share.
She remained with him for two years, but he was too much.
Mary then left her house with the urn and travelled to a mysterious destination, Freddie’s last resting place.
She had called his parents days before to ask them to pray for him. She didn’t tell them where she was taking him.
It could have been Switzerland where Queen recorded in a studio. There is also a beautiful statue of Queen overlooking Lake Geneva. Mary won’t tell anyone.
She said, “I have never betrayed Freddie during his life.” She added, “And I will never betray his now.”
Freddie’s favourite mantra — one he repeated to me often — was: ‘Life is for living: life is for fun. F*** tomorrow, it’s today what counts, dear.’
This was his motto.
Freddie Mercury, The Last Act, BBC2, Tonight, 9:59pm