It’s been 30 years since Freddie Mercury died, and his legacy as one of the world’s most iconic rock stars has lived on.
Choosing to keep his battle with AIDS private, most of the world was unaware that Freddie Mercury was gravely ill until just days before his untimely death aged 45. But as some of his close friends have recalled in the years since his passing, he remained himself until the end.
Writing in his 2013 memoir Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of Aids, Elton John shared his poignant memories of Mercury’s final days, having been one of a select group of friends and family that the Queen frontman told of his illness following his diagnosis in 1987.
‘I’d seen what the disease had done to so many of my other friends, I knew exactly what it was going to do to Freddie. As did he. He knew death, agonising death, was coming,’ John wrote.
Yet Mercury never let on, with John remembering how ‘he kept being the funny, outrageous and profoundly generous person he had always been’ right up until his death, and, as the singer-songwriter revealed, even beyond.
In his book, John recalls receiving a Christmas gift from a mutual acquaintance wrapped in a pillowcase, just one month after losing his friend.
‘I opened it up, and inside was a painting by one of my favourite artists, the British painter Henry Scott Tuke. And there was a note from Freddie. Years before, Freddie and I had developed pet names for each other, our drag queen alter-egos. I was Sharon, and he was Melina. Freddie’s note read: ‘Dear Sharon, I thought you’d like this. Love, Melina.”
I was overcome, 44-years-old at the time, crying like a child. Here was this beautiful man, dying from AIDS, and in his final days, he had somehow managed to find me a lovely Christmas present.
As sad as that moment was, it’s often the one I think about when I remember Freddie, because it captures the character of the man. In death, he reminded me of what made him so special.
The rest of the world has been paying tribute to Mercury on the anniversary of his death, remembering one of the greatest performers of all time.
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