Earlier this week we remembered late Queen frontman and musical icon Freddie Mercury, 25 years after his sad passing.
Now, a new book Somebody to Love: The Life, Death and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards reveals how the singer broke the news to the other members of the band about his illness, some of whom already suspected that he was in extremely poor health.
According to Freddie’s now deceased partner Jim Hutton, Mercury knew he had to reveal the truth and the moment finally came when the group were having dinner at a restaurant in Montreux.
“Someone at the table was suffering from a cold, and the conversation got round to the curse of illness”
“It was then that Freddie, who still looked fairly well, rolled up his right trouser leg and raised his leg to the table to let the others see the painful, open wound weeping on the side of his leg. ‘You think you’ve got problems,’ he told them. ‘Well, look at this.’ Then just as quickly as he had mentioned it, Freddie brushed the subject aside.”
While Hutton wasn’t actually at the dinner, his version differs slightly from what Brian May recalled after Freddie passed. May said:
“We kind of knew for a long time, very, very gradually, because the signs began to be there, and there came a day when he just said, ‘Look, you’ve probably figured out what I’m dealing with. I have this thing, and as far as I know there’s no cure and I only have a certain amount of time left. I want to have this conversation, I want life to carry on exactly as it is, I want to make records, I don’t want anyone to know, I don’t want anyone to talk about it from this point forwards and that’s it.’ That’s what he said.”
Rodger Taylor had this to say about having his suspicions confirmed:
“We knew he was terribly ill; it was really only a confirmation of what we’d guessed”
But actually hearing it was an appalling thing. For quite a long time we tried to tell ourselves it was other things.”
May also added:
“He never asked for sympathy from anyone else”
“He was a very strong person and always liked to be in control of his own destiny. He knew that if he did announce it his life would become a circus and he would be prevented from going about his business, which was making music. He wanted it to be business as usual until the end.”
“There was no drama, no tears in his eyes. He was incredibly self-contained. We didn’t feel we could speak about it to anyone. It was particularly hard lying barefacedly to our friends. And, of course, we had to stand by and watch this incredibly talented, strong man, in the prime of his life, gradually wasting away. There was a terrible feeling of helplessness.”