Today marks the 30th anniversary of the last time Freddie Mercury performed on stage with Queen (Knebworth Park). To commemorate his untimely death over two decades ago, we’ve put together a gallery with twenty reasons why he’s still missed. Buy beautiful Freddie and Queen prints from Rock Paper Photo, a comprehensive online gallery of fine art music photography.
1. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The track hardly makes any rational sense. It’s six minutes long. There’s no chorus. Yet it has transcended all these constraints to become a bona fide classic.
2. His massive chompers. In this age of neon-white, geometrically correct pearly whites, it’s nice to remember Mercury’s massive, massive teeth that added to his trademark bold look.
3) ‘Under Pressure’. A flawless duet with David Bowie which has, over time, gained a special place in people’s hearts because of the all too relatable nature of the lyrics and that bassline (just ask Vanilla Ice).
4) THAT jacket. We’re talking of course about the famous yellow one. Oh yes it was rather silly, but can we ever separate that shiny yellow leather number from the iconic image of Freddie? No we cannot.
5) ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’. A rockabilly, Elvis Presley tribute? In a chart full of cheery pop cheese? It would never do well in the charts… In fact it topped charts across the world and became a Queen classic.
6) The dwarves and cocaine parties. A “nightcap” at the Mercury mansion involved cross Atlantic flights and parties where dwarves had bowls of cocaine strapped to their heads. Which makes you wonder what was in the party bags when they left…
7) ‘Live Aid’. Having not performed live for a few years, Queen’s comeback at Live Aid was an amazing reinvention. For many the highlight of the charity concert, Queen showed the other older timers how it should be done.
8) ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. Like Blondie, Queen managed where others had failed: to incorporate bits of disco and r’n’b into the music with sounding faddy or desperate. In fact ‘Another One…’ was a brilliantly modernist effort for 1980, in the best sense of the term.
9) The Tache. The infamous piece of facial furniture has its own Facebook page. If he’d lived perhaps the moustache would have gone solo…
10) ‘Flash’. Firstly it was an expert lesson in ‘how to do a song for a film’. Secondly it was a brilliant, highly influential (sampled by Public Enemy, pre-gig music for My Chemical Romance) song in its own right.
11) Band Equality. Freddie may have been the frontman but there was a definite sense that Queen were a group of equals who each bought something unique to the table.
12) He created the ‘rock anthem’ as we know it. The likes of ‘We Are The Champions’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ are templates for how to make the perfect rock anthem.
13) The ‘I Want To Break Free’ video. Dragged up and living in their own private soap, this video was funny along with being a perfectly judged promo for the MTV-era.
14) His onstage persona. In life Mercury was a complicated, multi faceted character, onstage however his persona was commanding, iconic and hugely influential.
15) The ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ video. Considered by many to ‘the first ever music video’, director Bruce Gowers created a simple but wonderfully effective combination of lights, shadowing and 70s special effects to create something unforgettable.
16) Their name. Iconic, with multiple meanings and just, well, clever.
17) The voice. Freddie’s outstanding voice was a four octave stunner which influenced everyone from Muse’s Matt Bellamy to The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins.
18) His legend. Despite some terrible post-Freddie decisions (‘We Will Rock You’ The Musical and the addition of Paul Rogers comes to mind), that the legend of Freddie and Queen sustains is testament to the on-going power of Mr Mercury.
19) ‘Going opera’. Pre-empting the trend in recent times for everyone and their dog to create an opera (Damon Albarn, Rufus Wainwright), Freddie duetted with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé on ‘Barcelona’ way back in 1988.
20) His solo career. His solo career produced some bright moments including ‘Living On My Own’, the 1993 remix of which topped the charts.