Freddie Mercury’s last words range from the “Thank You” he repeatedly said to his PA Phoebe in the last days of his life to the “I Still Love You” he said to his fans in the video for Days of our Lives, even down to the statement he made through his team about having HIV/AIDS 24 hours before his death.
The late iconic Queen lead singer died from HIV/AIDS and bronchial pneumonia at his Kensington home on November 24, 1991. Several members of his band have given their accounts of the events that transpired in the last days of his life. Especially regrding his attitude in the studio while recording songs. This article explores every viewpoint of the legendary late rock singer’s last few years on earth.
What Were Freddie Mercury’s Last Words?
After recording his last song, Freddie retired to his Kensington home to spend his last days on earth. On November 22, 1991, the late rock singer invited Queen’s manager Jim Beach to his Kensington home to prepare a public statement.
The late singer hoped that the statement would respond to the rumors about his health status. Read what many now consider to be Freddie Mercury’s last words to the public and his fans, even though he delivered them through his band’s manager.
“Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me.
However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.
My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue.”
The media and the general public did not get a chance to test Freddie’s insistence that he would not like his privacy to be violated because he died around 24 hours after the statement was released.
Freddie Mercury Was Allegedly Diagnosed With HIV/AIDS In 1987
During an interview in the late 1980s, Jim Hutton, one of Freddie’s numerous partners, alleged that the singer was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in late April 1987. Despite the rock icon and his team denying the accuracy of those statements, the disease eventually led to his death in 1991.
In 1982, five years before the alleged diagnosis, Mercury had begun exhibiting symptoms of the ultimately terminal illness. According to the biographical book about Mercury, Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne, the authors claimed that the Crazy Little Thing Called Love crooner had secretly visited a doctor in New York City to check out a white lesion which had appeared on his tongue.
They went on to allege that the lesion might have been hairy leukoplakia, one of the first signs of an infection. Mercury had gone to see the doctor a few weeks before Saturday Night Live, September 25, 1982, Queen’s last American appearance. The book also pointed out the possibility that he might have been with a carrier of the disease on the final day of the show and began exhibiting more symptoms.
Freddie Mercury And His Team Denied The Rumors
By October 1986, the British press was more forthcoming with reports that suggested that Freddie had tested positive for HIV/AIDS at a Harley Street medical center. At first, Freddie did not bother to respond to those reports, but as the years went by, the singer who became more averse to interviews in his later years, was forced to grant one in a bid to shut down the reports regarding the state of his health.
Despite his denials, the British press held on to the fact that his physical appearance became trailer. This, in addition to several reports from his former lovers to different tabloids, sustained the reports that Freddie was dying of HIV/AIDS.
While continuously denying the rumors which were further fuelled by Queen’s absence from tours, Freddie made his final stage appearance alongside his team at the 1990 Brit Awards held at the Dominion Theatre.
That appearance was to accept the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. However, the singer’s stage appearance did little to quell the rumors regarding his health.
If anything, that appearance and further appearances including the music video for These Are The Days of Our Lives which featured an extra thin Mercury in a cat-themed waistcoat, further highlighted the disparity between the singer’s robust look in his early days and the frail appearance he showcased during his last days.
Live Aid Concert Was Not Freddie Mercury’s Last Concert
In the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, the producers messed around with the date and sequence of events preceding Freddie Mercury’s death for dramatic effect. A case in point was when they set things up to seem like the renowned Live Aid concert was the singer’s last live performance.
Nothing could be further from the truth as the concert was held at Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985. Before his death on November 24, 1991, Freddie mustered enough energy to appear at a final live concert the following year on August 9, 1986.
Freddie Mercury’s Last Concert
Freddie Mercury’s last live concert took place on August 9, 1986, at Knebworth Park, United Kingdom. It had over one hundred and twenty thousand people gathered to watch the bill-topping, iconic rock band Queen led by the charismatic Freddie Mercury.
Cheered on by perfect weather and a buoyant crowd, Mercury and Queen were their usual exceptional selves. They delivered a rousing performance to rival any performance before and after their time. Other bands to grace the concert, and who essentially opened for Queen were Belouius Some, Status Quo, and Scottish band Big Country.
Whether it was due to the traffic or just another facet of the dramatic flair Queen had exhibited in the years preceding what is now Freddie’s last live concert, the band was delivered to Knebworth Park by helicopter. What followed next was an outstanding 2-hour set that appealed hugely to the audience and subsequently received the ovation it deserved.
At the time, though, no one, including the late rock icon and his team, anticipated the fact that the concert would be Mercury’s last with Queen. As previously stated, his partner then, Jim Hutton, confirmed that Freddie’s AIDS diagnosis had not become official, only becoming so the following year in 1987. The singer also did not reveal his health challenges to the public until a day before his death in 1991.
Without any knowledge of what was to come, Freddie and Queen’s spirits were high and they transmitted that feeling and energy to an audience that matched their enthusiasm dance move for a dance move. The Queen lineup on the day featured the best that the rock band had to offer with Mercury as lead vocal and on the piano and guitar.
Alongside the charismatic singer was the dream team of Brian May on guitar, backing vocals, and keyboards, John Deacon on bass guitar, Roger Taylor on drums and backing vocals, and Spike Edney on keyboards, piano, guitar, and backing vocals. It is, therefore no surprise that their performance remains very fresh in the minds of the people who saw the concert live.
Freddie’s final live stage performance saw him and Queen deliver a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen. Unlike the biopic film, Bohemian Rhapsody, which provides a dramatic insight into the life, career, and death of Mercury, there is no official film about Freddie’s last concert, although there is a low-quality amateur footage. The high-quality audio was also good enough for many of the songs to be featured in the “Queen: Live Magic Album.”
What Was Freddie Mercury’s Last Song?
It is on record that the last ever song that Freddie Mercury ever lent his vocals to was Mother Love, one of the songs from the album “Made in Heaven” which was released by Queen on November 6, 1995, a few weeks shy of four years after the death of the rock legend.
The song was recorded in May 1991, October 18, 1993, and early 1995 at Mountain Studios, Cosford Mill, and Metropolis Studios. It was released by two different labels, Parlophone in Europe, and Hollywood in North America. The song, which has a playtime of 4 minutes and 49 seconds, was recorded by Freddie and Brian May.
The latter provided insight into the writing and recording sessions on his website. The song has three verses, and the first two verses were vocalized by Mercury who had been dead for almost four years at the time of the song’s release. The timing of Freddie’s voice recording from May 13 -16, 1991, indicates that the singer was growing weaker by the day hence his contribution to only two verses of the song.
May alluded to the fact that he and Mercury recorded separately on his website. He also revealed that the late singer constantly urged him to write lyrics for him to sing and to finish the song later on. After the first two verses, the late singer remarked that he was not up to doing the third and that he needed to rest for a while, promising to return to finish the song. He never returned and May had to vocalize the third verse.
As the song drew to a close, a sample vocal improvisation recorded at the band’s famous July 12, 1986 concert at Wembley Stadium was featured. A sample from the studio version of One Vision and Tie Your Mother Down was also featured. Next was a fusion snippet of every song the band had ever recorded, sped through a tape machine.
The song concluded with a sample from a cover of Goin’ Back, a song to which Freddie had provided lead vocals in 1972. Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote it. That cover was a b-side to I Can Hear Music, a Ronettes cover, by Larry Lurex, a pseudonym Mercury had used prior to the release of Queen’s debut album. The song faded with the sound of a crying baby.
Besides Mercury on lead vocals and drum machine, and Brian May on guitar, lead vocals on the last verse, and keyboards, two other band members provided their expertise to the creation and release of the song. John Deacon was on bass guitar while Roger Taylor was on drums.
What Was Freddie Mercury’s Last Photo?
Freddie Mercury’s last known photo was taken in the privacy of his home at Garden Lodge in West London. The photo showed the iconic singer standing in front of his Georgian-style house with one of his feline pets.
Dressed in a floral shirt tucked into sea green pants and white loafers. The picture, framed by flowers, shows a smiling Freddie and provides insight into his life during his last few weeks on earth.
It is also notable that Jim Hutton took the picture on August 28, 1991. Describing the moments leading up to when he took the photo, Hutton, in his book Mercury and Me, revealed that he was out in the garden photographing some of the flowers in full bloom when the We Will Rock You crooner walked towards him.
He further revealed that he trained the lens on the late singer, but before he could get off a shot, Freddie convinced him to take a few steps back to avoid it being a close-up shot. Hutton took four pictures that day, and Freddie smiled for each one.
Hutton died on January 1, 2020, from a drawn-out battle against lung cancer. He was 60 years old at the time of his death. He revealed that those pictures were his favorite of the singer even though he had become so frail and sickly from the effects of his health challenges.
What Did Freddie Mercury Die Of?
The exact cause of Freddie Mercury’s death was bronchial pneumonia, an ailment brought on by his HIV/AIDS health challenge. The singer, who died on November 24, 1991, was 45 years old at the time of his death.
Along with a few others, Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five, Freddie’s close friend, was at the bedside vigil when he died. Austin then called his parents and sister to break the news, and by the early hours of November 25, the news had reached several newspaper and TV crews.