Freddie Mercury

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Freddie Mercury Pencil Portrait
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The quality of the prints are at a much higher level compared to the image shown on the left.


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The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness was an open-air concert held on Easter Monday, 20 April 1992 at London’s Wembley Stadium, for an audience of 72,000. The concert was produced for television by Ray Burdis and broadcast live on television and radio to 76 countries around the world, with an audience of up to one billion.

A fitting musical tribute to the life of the late Queen frontman, all the proceeds raised benefited AIDS research.

Since then, a film biopic of Freddie’s life has been mooted for years, but creative differences amongst the principal makers and shakers have stalled the project on several occasions. In the summer of 2013, Sacha Baron Cohen, the english stand-up comedian, writer, and actor, bowed out from any involvement in the movie as its primary focus on the legendary excesses of Mercury’s private life was not sitting comfortably with the surviving members of Queen. I would be inclined to side with the band on this point, but not as a direct result of love for a deceased collaborator and great friend, nor any ‘deathbed’ pledge to the star to protect his reputation. In truth, and with a sense of emotional detachment, I frankly cannot face copious screentime filled with ‘sexual scenes and themes’, signifying as they invariably do, a creative dearth of scriptwriting innovation. As one gets older, such film interludes in major Hollywood blockbusters serve merely as my cue to prepare tea and coffee for my family. It’s boring and in any event, why should Mercury be defined by his sexuality and drug taking? We have it on his own good authority that he slept with both men and women whilst living his life to excess, but any presumption that the most graphic account would be the most ‘honest’, is disingenuous at best and biographically incorrect at worst. Curiously though, my ever present protective instinct towards Freddie’s musicality, was central to a sense of unease I felt about the obvious connection made between the star and AIDS by the organisers of the 1992 tribute concert. A more shocking ‘victim’ of the AIDS epidemic is the actor Paul Michael-Glaser, best known for his role in the hit 70’s US cop show “Starsky & Hutch’. As a direct result of a blood transfusion containing the HIV strain given during pregnancy, the actor would subsequently lose both his wife and daughter, whilst his son remains infected to this day.

Freddie may have died as a result of complications brought on by the HIV virus, but in reality he passed away prematurely as a direct result of life’s maxims. Living by the sword often entails dying by it, whilst a life lived to excess will invariably return to bite one’s hand off. By his own admission, his sexual proclivities reached a reckless zenith in the 70’s and early 80’s, and for that reason alone, I was in 1992 and remain to this day, more inclined to think of Freddie as a lifestyle victim rather than a casualty of AIDS. Perhaps my views could be construed as splitting hairs, but the concert promotion would have generated equally large revenues had it focussed solely on his music. After all, it is safe to suggest that nobody at Wembley that Easter Monday was there under ‘musical sufferance’ for the greater good of AIDs awareness, and whilst the obvious connection was too good a research funding opportunity to miss, it simply smacked of cynical opportunism. Were the promoters truly doubtful of filling the old Wembley stadium without advertising the concert’s loftier goals? I suspect not. In the final analysis, Freddie was not the unfortunate victim of a blood transfusion or an out of character one night stand, yet the concert takings could still have been channelled to their ultimate destination without the gratuitous and more than obvious connective marketing between star and virus.

Recommended listening

Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

A night at the opera (1975)

News of the world (1977)

Innuendo (1991)


Queen - The Official Website

Mercury & Queen

An eclectic mix of articles and pictorial galleries with a comprehensive list of links to alternative sites.

Something for everyone and a marvellous compendium of resource material. Queen live? Freedie at the Royal Ballet? You name it – it’s all here.