An updated version of Lesley-Ann Jones’ 2011 biography of Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody: The Definitive Biography of Freddie Mercury, has re-entered the book charts following the recent release of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which starred Rami Malek as Mercury.
Jones has given a new interview to Billboard following the resurgence of her book, which she described as “a labour of love” and added: “I adored the man. It’s thrilling that so many people are now getting to read his unexpurgated story.”
Pressed on her memories of Mercury, Jones recalled a “very polite, respectful man.”
“For such a flamboyant performer, he was an incredibly shy man,” she said. “He was inherently gentle and kind, but he could be waspish and cruel. [Bohemian Rhapsody] hasn’t scraped the surface of his multiple contradictions.
“Over the years that I toured with Queen, I had more than my share of downtime moments with him,” she added. “He was candid with me about the ways in which fame and fortune had compromised and even ruined him. He craved anonymity and normality, much of the time.”
Asked about any particularly poignant memories she had of being with Mercury, Jones recalled one encounter in 1986 where she was “sitting with him late at night on the banks of Lake Geneva in Montreux, staring out across the still, black water towards the soaring Alps.
“Freddie talked that night about being ‘imprisoned’ by fame. He said he wanted to be buried there without fanfare when his time came — he already knew that his days were numbered. ‘Just throw me in the lake when I go,’ he said.”
Earlier this month, Rami Malek admitted that he wished he’d been allowed to “delve deeper” into Mercury’s private life in Bohemian Rhapsody.