Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender is out this week celebrating the colourful life of the legendary showman in pictures. You can check out some of our favourite Freddie Mercury photos from the book here – like this shot that was used as a life-size cardboard cut-out for ‘The Great Pretender’ video in 1987.
The hand-clapping sequence from Queen’s ‘Radio Ga Ga’ video, seen here, became a trademark sight at Queen performances including their Live Aid set in 1985.
By the mid-80s Freddie had fallen in love with Munich after he got to know the city when Queen recorded ‘The Works’ album at Musicland Studios in 1984. While Queen took a short sabbatical Freddie began working on his first solo album, ‘Mr Bad Guy’.
This shot of Freddie Mercury strumming a guitar backstage on the 1981 South American tour was quite an unusual sight. As Freddie’s personal assistant, Peter Freestone, points out: “Freddie wasn’t fond of the guitar; he was only able to play four chords and didn’t like that.”
Freddie wasn’t too keen on playing Live Aid to begin with but Bob Geldof eventually convinced him – and when Queen walked on stage the whole place erupted. Later Brian May said: “We were dumbstruck and kinda humbled. I think it galvanized us into going back into the studio and believing in ourselves in a way we hadn’t before.”
In 1981 Queen decided to conquer South America, becoming the first major rock act to tour, playing massive stadium dates in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico among others. Over two nights in Brazil the audience totalled an amazing 250,000.
This shot of Freddie Mercury during the Crazy Tour of Britain in late 1979 shows how his look started to change. He picked up the T-shirts and singlets craze in New York while on the North American Tour and cut down a pair of leather trousers to make the shorts.
When Queen went to designer Zandra Rhodes and asked for clothes that would reinforce their “dramatic potential” this is the outfit she dressed Freddie Mercury in. The picture was taken by photographer Mick Rock in 1974 who said: “He loved what the arms did, the fact that they gave him wings.”
This amazing shot of Freddie Mercury was taken on the Magic Tour, which “Had totally regenerated the band, both in terms of their audience and their attitude.” according to Gerry Stickells, Queen’s tour manager.
A shot from Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ video, featuring Freddie Mercury with members of the Royal Ballet company. The cross-dressing elsewhere in the video alienated a lot of American fans, and Queen never toured the US again.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, released in 1975, changed everything for Queen, leading them to perform in ever increasing venue sizes. Freddie was in his element, saying: “We’re riding the crest of a wave.”
Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender is published by Goodman and is now available to buy online and from all good bookstores for £25.