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Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury

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Revealing and intimate, based on more than 100 interviews with key figures in his life, this is the definitive biography of Queen front man Freddie Mercury, one of pop music’s best-loved and most complex figures. As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury’s unmatched skills as a songwriter and flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar, and Queen a h Revealing and intimate, based on more than 100 interviews with key figures in his life, this is the definitive biography of Queen front man Freddie Mercury, one of pop music’s best-loved and most complex figures. As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury’s unmatched skills as a songwriter and flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar, and Queen a household name. But few people ever really glimpsed the man behind the glittering faÇade.      Mercury was the first major rock star to die from AIDS. Now, twenty years after his death, those closest to him are finally opening up about this pivotal figure in rock n’ roll. With unprecedented access to Mercury’s tribe, rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones has crafted the definitive account of Mercury’s legendary life. Jones details Queen’s slow but steady rise to fame, and Mercury’s descent into dangerous, pleasure-seeking excesses. Jones doesn’t shy away from Mercury’s often colorful lifestyle—this was, after all, a man who once declared, “Darling, I’m doing everything with everyone.”     In her journey to understand Mercury, Jones traveled to London, Zanzibar, and India—talking with everyone from Freddie’s closest friends, to the sound engineer at Band Aid (who was responsible for making Queen louder than the other bands), to second cousins halfway around the world, an intimate and complicated portrait emerges. Meticulously researched, sympathetic yet not sensational, Mercury offers an unvarnished, revealing look at the extreme highs and lows of life in the fast lane.      Freddie Mercury will be the subject of a major motion picture titled Mercury, slated for 2012 production, produced by Graham King, starring Sacha Baron Cohen. This book is a key source for the film. Mercury is the most compelling, up-to-date portrait of an enigmatic entertainer who thrilled audiences around the world with a magnetism matched by few performers.


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Revealing and intimate, based on more than 100 interviews with key figures in his life, this is the definitive biography of Queen front man Freddie Mercury, one of pop music’s best-loved and most complex figures. As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury’s unmatched skills as a songwriter and flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar, and Queen a h Revealing and intimate, based on more than 100 interviews with key figures in his life, this is the definitive biography of Queen front man Freddie Mercury, one of pop music’s best-loved and most complex figures. As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury’s unmatched skills as a songwriter and flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar, and Queen a household name. But few people ever really glimpsed the man behind the glittering faÇade.      Mercury was the first major rock star to die from AIDS. Now, twenty years after his death, those closest to him are finally opening up about this pivotal figure in rock n’ roll. With unprecedented access to Mercury’s tribe, rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones has crafted the definitive account of Mercury’s legendary life. Jones details Queen’s slow but steady rise to fame, and Mercury’s descent into dangerous, pleasure-seeking excesses. Jones doesn’t shy away from Mercury’s often colorful lifestyle—this was, after all, a man who once declared, “Darling, I’m doing everything with everyone.”     In her journey to understand Mercury, Jones traveled to London, Zanzibar, and India—talking with everyone from Freddie’s closest friends, to the sound engineer at Band Aid (who was responsible for making Queen louder than the other bands), to second cousins halfway around the world, an intimate and complicated portrait emerges. Meticulously researched, sympathetic yet not sensational, Mercury offers an unvarnished, revealing look at the extreme highs and lows of life in the fast lane.      Freddie Mercury will be the subject of a major motion picture titled Mercury, slated for 2012 production, produced by Graham King, starring Sacha Baron Cohen. This book is a key source for the film. Mercury is the most compelling, up-to-date portrait of an enigmatic entertainer who thrilled audiences around the world with a magnetism matched by few performers.

30 review for Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury

  1. 5 out of 5

    Val ⚓️ Shameless Non-Snowflake ⚓️

    This was a very readable biography and, more than anything, it reminded me why I am glad I will never be famous and have never had the drive to become so. As exciting and globetrotting as Mercury's life definitely was, as many people by whom he seemed to be constantly surrounded, I can't help but think his life was very lonely. Even his relationship with the supposed "love of of his life," Mary Austin, seemed to be built on guilt and his own idea of what should have been. And, as seemi This was a very readable biography and, more than anything, it reminded me why I am glad I will never be famous and have never had the drive to become so. As exciting and globetrotting as Mercury's life definitely was, as many people by whom he seemed to be constantly surrounded, I can't help but think his life was very lonely. Even his relationship with the supposed "love of of his life," Mary Austin, seemed to be built on guilt and his own idea of what should have been. And, as seemingly devoted as a lot of his...other entourage members appeared to be...there is, in my opinion, something inherently suspect about anyone who gives up their entire life to basically follow someone else around. Now, as with any biography, it's impossible to know what is truly accurate. Any biography is written by a human (who may or may not have their own agenda) and recollected by more humans (whose recollections are skewed by time and perhaps their own ideas of what they want to remember happening and not necessarily what actually happened). All these things are subjective and inherently fallible. Anyone who has had a nasty breakup can attest to how suddenly only that person's positive attributes and overall awesomeness is sometimes all you remember. Their tendency to leave the toilet seat up and their habit of acting like a dick to your friends is suddenly glossed over by, well, everything nostalgic. Now, I'm not saying that Mercury left the toilet seat up or treated his friends like a dick - although it does seem like he treated a lot of people as commodities to be put on the shelf and taken out only when he was ready to play with them. An aspect of the book I really appreciated. So many times you read a biography and the author is either an obvious sycophant or, in contrast, someone whose apparent goal in life is to tear that person's legacy down. In this book, I thought the author did a great job of straddling the the line between both. I felt like she did a great job highlighting what made Freddie Mercury one of the most iconic, magnetic, and mysterious artists of all time...and yet never glossed over his faults and humanity. I LOVE reading biographies, although oftentimes, they can change the way I felt previously about the subject in question. Sometimes it's a huge bummer, because it completely changes my image of someone. Example: I still to this day will change the channel immediately when a Red Hot Chili Peppers song comes on, so much did I loathe AK's Scar Tissue. Fair? No. Still the way it is? Yes. All in all, I think the author here did a great job of bringing the reader a true taste of who Freddie Mercury was, while still respecting his legacy and struggles. That said, be warned that a lot of the information from this book seemed to be gathered from the hangers-on who were pretty much paid to serve (and leach off of) Freddie. In a way, with the exception of perhaps Mary Austin, he seemed to only surround himself on a daily basis by people who wanted to use him - whether for the fame, the wealth, the excitement of the grand parties celebrating the sex, drugs, and roll n' roll lifestyle, or the mere validation of being around someone who had all of these these things. Did those people - who later argued about who was actually with him when he died as if needing the "credit" - love him and care for him at the end for that sole reason alone? Perhaps. I did find it somewhat telling, however, that the first thing Mary Austin (the person Mercury stated repeatedly throughout his life was the only person he truly trusted) did when she inherited his home and the majority of his fortune was to kick all of those people out. The author made it sounds like Mary was cold and heartless to do this, but I can't help but think there was a definitive reason she took this action. Not that the author ever asked Mary about it. In fact, it appeared as though Freddie's family and Mary Austin had very little to do with this book and appeared only through quotes taken from other sources. In fact, his family and Mary seem to be the ONLY people in his life who didn't seek to "cash in" from his death and legacy in some way...not that Mary needed to, being that she inherited everything...but still. Regardless, as suspicious as the motives of many of the sources here might have been, they DID share many years of Freddie's life, especially at the end. And I did enjoy reading their recollections - accurate or inaccurate as they might have been. All in all, I left this book loving Freddie Mercury just as much as I did going in. Although, I also left it feeling a bit sad for both him and everyone caught up in the hurricane that was his life. Edited later: Here is an excellent review about a similar book which I thought described the hanger-on issue very well. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nat K

    "I'm a very emotional person, a person of real extremes. And often that's destructive, both to myself and others." That voice! That face! That style! After watching the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody" last year, I decided to followup with reading a book to find out more about Freddie Mercury. I'd always just taken his amazing voice for granted, as I cannot remember a time when Queen's music has not been a part of my life. And I still remember exactly where I was when heard the sad news of his passin "I'm a very emotional person, a person of real extremes. And often that's destructive, both to myself and others." That voice! That face! That style! After watching the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody" last year, I decided to followup with reading a book to find out more about Freddie Mercury. I'd always just taken his amazing voice for granted, as I cannot remember a time when Queen's music has not been a part of my life. And I still remember exactly where I was when heard the sad news of his passing on the radio. Some things stick in your memory. So I decided it was time to fill in some missing gaps in my knowledge, and to find out more of the metamorphosis of shy Farrouk Bulsura to the ultimate performer Freddie Mercury. Lesley-Ann Jones provides a good account of Freddie's early years, as a lonely child bundled off to boarding school. Then his time in art school, meeting the other members of Queen, running a market stall with Roger Taylor, to the amazing highs with Queen. It was interesting without being overly gossipy. As with so many people with amazing talent, Freddie Mercury was a bundle of contradictions. The over-the-top, flamboyant showman was the opposite to the off the stage person who was often painfully shy unless amongst close friends. The complexities of Freddie Mercury are intriguing. What stood out for me was his humour. There are so many amusing anecdotes contained throughout the book, such as his rivalry with Elton John. And calling Sid Vicious "Mr Ferocious". Only Freddie would dare. The book brought home to me the catch 22 situation of being so adored. Of performing to packed stadiums (over 250,000 people over two nights in South America!), but to still be seeking that one special person to love. The ending of the book is inevitable, but that doesn't make it any less sad. Freddie, you remain a one-of-a-kind 💖 Sorely missed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Freddie is a boy from Zanzibar, educated in India, born a Parsee, fleeing for his life with his family during revolution to London where his legend begins. The legend of the man who craves affection; the man who loves cats; the man who graduates with a graphic arts degree but feels inferior to his band mates who are astronomers, med students, physicists. The man with the voice of an angel Sadly so much focus is placed on his homosexuality and one night stands, that it appears there was noth Freddie is a boy from Zanzibar, educated in India, born a Parsee, fleeing for his life with his family during revolution to London where his legend begins. The legend of the man who craves affection; the man who loves cats; the man who graduates with a graphic arts degree but feels inferior to his band mates who are astronomers, med students, physicists. The man with the voice of an angel Sadly so much focus is placed on his homosexuality and one night stands, that it appears there was nothing else to his life, which sells him so short. He was a caring, lovely, sensitive soul, much more well-rounded than the author gave him credit. I wasn't interested in his lovers or his sexcapades; I was interested in the whole man. It seems accurate that Freddie never could fill the empty holes in his soul and he had an addictive personality with a complex about getting old. He was a massive presence not only on the stage. He did everything over the top; otherwise it just wasn't worth doing. I could perhaps give this 3.5 stars but no higher. I question the journalist author's motives.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    I was disappointed in this book as I have been in every single book about Freddie Mercury and Queen since his death. The one redeeming bit of information in this version of his life was the information on Barbara Valentin the German actress that he had a long-term love relationship with in the eighties. Though he lived his life predominantly homosexual his deepest love relationships were with two women, Barbara and Mary Austin (to whom he left most of his fortune, she had been his girlfriend in I was disappointed in this book as I have been in every single book about Freddie Mercury and Queen since his death. The one redeeming bit of information in this version of his life was the information on Barbara Valentin the German actress that he had a long-term love relationship with in the eighties. Though he lived his life predominantly homosexual his deepest love relationships were with two women, Barbara and Mary Austin (to whom he left most of his fortune, she had been his girlfriend in the seventies). Freddie was a complicated man, he was gay and yet loved women and had sex with both men and women. He was likely a sex addict, always looking for intimacy and closeness and using sex as a substitute. He never fully embraced his homosexuality (and never admitted it publicly to protect his strictly religious family) yet was also at odds with all of his relationships. He was an extreme narcissist and yet his sexual and romantic partners were all much less than he was in talent, intellect and class. They were for the most part the worst of hangers-on, siphoning off his money and energy, being close to someone whose star was so bright it had no choice but to burn out. The band members in Queen are not featured much here which is too bad because it leaves much of the story in the hands of these blood-suckers who were close to Freddie in his life, almost to a one of them being paid by him. Except for the band members who knew a different side of him these people are repugnant, the only mercy being that most of them are dead now, likely due to them being drug addicts and drunks. There was not one person involved in Freddie's life (outside of friends like Elton John and Dave Clark)who was in Freddie's life because they truly cared about him and wanted nothing from him (I'm not counting the band members in this either). His "gardener/lover" Jim Hutton wanted to justify his tell-all book about Freddie detailing their sex life and drug use and tried to make it sound like there was a real bond and deep love between them when Freddie had numerous other relationships while being involved with him, including the long-term one with Barbara Valentin. Jim was hurt that the women got more of Freddie's fortune than he did and desired to make some money on his book.He died of lung cancer in 2010. Eventually everyone who knew Freddie (who hadn't died of AIDS or just died of whatever their addictions were) wrote a book about him. Ironically none of them ever truly knew this man. I doubt that he even knew himself. Freddie was not the man he appeared to be onstage but then he was not the man who had gay orgies either. He was not the man who drank gallons of vodka and snorted tons of cocaine. He was not the man who protected his family from the truth about his wild life. He was not the friend he appeared to Brian, Roger and John. He was not the lover of women and sex partner of men. He was not the semi-husband he appeared to be to Mary Austin and the passionate lover to Barbara Valentin. He was not the devoted son and brother to Bomi, Jer and Kashmira. All of it was a show. So who was Freddie Mercury off-stage when there was no one to play to? I believe and I do not care how silly it sounds that the only creatures on Earth who truly knew him were his cats. So I guess that's the bottom line - this book could have been much shorter and called An Old Queen and His Cats. And it would have been much more honest, more heart-felt and a better tribute to this enigma.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Chance

    I was so disappointed with this book. I was expecting a story of the life of Freddie Mercury, who I thought was a fascinating person. Instead, I got Lesley-Ann Jones' story of how she interviewed people with second, third, fourth, and so on knowledge of some of Freddie Mercury's life. The photographs were interesting in the first section, but I thought it was tacky of the author to include photos of herself in the second section of the book. I would not recommend this book at all. Sor I was so disappointed with this book. I was expecting a story of the life of Freddie Mercury, who I thought was a fascinating person. Instead, I got Lesley-Ann Jones' story of how she interviewed people with second, third, fourth, and so on knowledge of some of Freddie Mercury's life. The photographs were interesting in the first section, but I thought it was tacky of the author to include photos of herself in the second section of the book. I would not recommend this book at all. Sorry!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sacha

    Before reading this book I knew very little about Freddie Mercury. He was the lead singer of Queen and he died from AIDS and that was about the size of it. Upon finishing the book I feel that I have a better understanding of what it was like for him in his situation, but the most overwhelming factor that I will take away from this is 466 paged biography is that no one really knew Freddie Mercury and that's how he wanted it. Jones has written a very interesting and seemingly unbiased a Before reading this book I knew very little about Freddie Mercury. He was the lead singer of Queen and he died from AIDS and that was about the size of it. Upon finishing the book I feel that I have a better understanding of what it was like for him in his situation, but the most overwhelming factor that I will take away from this is 466 paged biography is that no one really knew Freddie Mercury and that's how he wanted it. Jones has written a very interesting and seemingly unbiased account of Freddie's life and, besides the sections that were a little dry, I found it a very interesting read. Jones' most outstanding accomplishment is in her research and her interviews which helped to convey the inconsistencies and betrayals in Freddie's life. With only a few exceptions, it seemed that everyone wanted a part of Freddie. Good choice...thanks Donna

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bogdan

    Maybe not so definitive as described, but for me was an interesting read that has opened my eyes to the life of Freddie Mercury. I loved their music from when I was little and now I have more information about the songs, the artists, how was their struggle in those days, etc. Some of the things said here by Freddie you could find them on youtube, so not a lot of news here, but the whole history of his life with it's upside downs was fascinating. Definitely worth a check.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joe Juarez

    Without reading any book about Freddie Mercury, I must say that Freddie is, in my opinion, the greatest singer of all time. In Jones'tell-all about the late Queen frontman, she chronicles the other side of the "Lover of life. Singer of Songs." A side that's surrounded by loneliness, insecurity, and a heavy excess of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. "Mercury" tells the story of Freddie's story behind songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Are the Champions" as well as what went on during Without reading any book about Freddie Mercury, I must say that Freddie is, in my opinion, the greatest singer of all time. In Jones'tell-all about the late Queen frontman, she chronicles the other side of the "Lover of life. Singer of Songs." A side that's surrounded by loneliness, insecurity, and a heavy excess of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. "Mercury" tells the story of Freddie's story behind songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Are the Champions" as well as what went on during his boyhood life in Zanzibar to his time with Queen and his final months spent in a recording studio making music while dying of AIDS. According to Jones, most rock star biographies deal with the rise and fall of superstardom and the struggle to get back on top. Despite the obstacles that Mercury and Queen went through, their music defines any person's moment in victory or love.

  9. 5 out of 5

    TR Peterson

    This was an enjoyable read but not exactly an intimate biography as the title suggests. Most sources she uses are old rock magazine interviews and Jones seems rather keen on name dropping even when it isn't clear why one needs to know what other music industry connections a producer might have. In addition, despite her admiration for Freddie she does not allow for bisexuality to exist in his case, often insisting that he was a closeted gay man, not bisexual. The fact that Freddie love This was an enjoyable read but not exactly an intimate biography as the title suggests. Most sources she uses are old rock magazine interviews and Jones seems rather keen on name dropping even when it isn't clear why one needs to know what other music industry connections a producer might have. In addition, despite her admiration for Freddie she does not allow for bisexuality to exist in his case, often insisting that he was a closeted gay man, not bisexual. The fact that Freddie loved both women and men was something she admits but then seems to disregard. With regards to Garden Lodge and Freddie's entourage there she describes the multiple lovers in his life getting on and even sleeping in the same bed as 'bizarre' while at the same time trying to highlight any small animosities as proof of how it was all some kind of fateful tragedy rather than people merely loving and respecting each other. It's as if Jones can comprehend the gay man that Freddie was but the bisexual or polyamorous Freddie is beyond her. It's clear though that Mercury wanted to simply be who he was with all of the imperfections that make all of us human. There is no doubt he loved his many partners in a variety of different ways, whatever current convention thinks otherwise. What comes across most stongly in the book, and to Jones's credit, is Mercury's shyness vs his onstage outrageousness. A kind of Janus faced character that left no one really knowing all of him. If you are looking for an excellent biography of Queen this isn't your book. If you are looking for an overview of the life of Freddie then, baring the misconceptions of his personal life, you may want to give it a read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nadishka Aloysius

    DISCLAIMER *This is a bit of a book vs movie review* A real emotional rollercoaster without a dull moment. I have read many biographies and autobiographies in the past. They all have a bit you skim through at some point when the details get too long and arduous to read. Not this! It was very easy to read and full of quotations from friends, family, music industry bigwigs and even psychiatrists. "It was the perfect stage for Freddie Mercury: the whole world." Bob Geldof "It wasn't eve DISCLAIMER *This is a bit of a book vs movie review* A real emotional rollercoaster without a dull moment. I have read many biographies and autobiographies in the past. They all have a bit you skim through at some point when the details get too long and arduous to read. Not this! It was very easy to read and full of quotations from friends, family, music industry bigwigs and even psychiatrists. "It was the perfect stage for Freddie Mercury: the whole world." Bob Geldof "It wasn't even dark, he was whipping up all this magic in daylight." Dave Hogan (photographer at Live Aid) The explosive start with Live Aid in chapter one mirrors the movie Bohemian Rhapsody to a tee (although the book predates, obviously). Although the main focus is how Queen outperformed everyone that day, there is also a lot of other information like when and how Bob Geldof came up with the whole idea (I did not know that Queens had not been invited to sing in Do They Know It's Christmas!) The book then delves deeply into Freddie's childhood and time in Zanzibar and India. The writer even goes on an expedition to find his birth certificate (which is apparently missing - suspected to have been bought illegally and in someone's private collection now). Her interviews with friends and family shed so much light on Freddie's background and upbringing. (He was called Bucky!) The next thing that struck me were the many differences with the movie - too many to name! How he met and joined the band, how they got their first album recorded, the truth is so different I was wondering if I had watched an adaptation or fictionalisation of the truth at the cinema the day before reading the book (For example, they had a VERY hard time being picked up by radio DJs in the UK and could not get onto playlists at the beginning). However, I felt that his relationship with Mary Austin came across better on screen (although, again, there were many conflicts like, she did not abandon him as portrayed in BR) The wild parties... Oh my God! Jaw dropping! I can understand why those were left out of the movie! I also learned about Peter Freeman, Barbara Valentin and others who were so close to him but did not get a mention in the movie. And Jim Hutton - the true story of how they met is so different! The book has a total of 25 chapters that take the reader from place to place and event to event. Freddie's multi-faceted, almost chameleon-like character came out very well in the story. You follow his as he goes from sleeping on the floor to super rockstardom. You feel each betrayal, each hurdle he had to overcome. There are moments you are cheering him on and moments you find the hedonistic OTT life too much to comprehend. There is also a lot of commentary into what the songs and lyrics mean - the writer's own take on Bo Rap is that Scaramouche (a clown from the commedia dell'arte) was Freddie himself, Galileo the 16th century astronomer is obviously Brian May, and Beelzebub (prince of demons) is Roger Taylor who was the wildest party animal at the beginning. I don't know how much water that holds, to be honest, but back stories to why and how the songs came about is definitely interesting. And the final chapters - I was in tears. There was so much empathy and emotion in the description of his final year, death, funeral and the aftermath, all fans MUST read this. The wealth of information also lead me to some fantastic old videos (like Freddie's performance with the Royal Ballet) that are hidden away on Youtube. Here are some of the titbits that have stayed with me...Did you know - Brian May developed gangrene in his arm after a routine inoculation and there was a real fear of amputation? that Freddie was aerophobic? that after their first appearance of Top of the Pops in 1974 Freddie ran along Oxford St to watch their appearance on a TV in a shop window because he didn't own one himself? that Freddie and Roger ran a market stall in Kensington and were as thick as thieves? (I thought their relationship on BR was actually quite strained) that when they landed in Argentina for the tour in 1981 the flight announcements all stopped and they started playing Queen music instead! There was one comment in earlier reviews that this is a mash-up of all the interviews and books that have come before, with no new material. I disagree. Yes, there were a lot of quotes from various sources, but there were also many insights from the author herself and personal interviews / conversations too. Of course, I have not read all the other biographies of Freddie and Queen out there, but I am sure there is a lot of overlapping bound to happen when you write about the same subject! My only criticism is, because the chapters were broken by personalities and events there was a lot of jumping back and forth in the timeline when you read from one chapter to another - where you stop and go 'wasn't that mentioned earlier?' However, if you are a fan of Queen, or if you have just watched Bohemian Rhapsody, this is a book which would fascinate you.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gleason

    This is a solid and very moving biography of Freddie Mercury, one of my greatest heroes and role models. Jones is at her best when describing the introverted and caring man behind the glossy exterior of the world's best frontman. Of course, Freddie's loneliness and romantic nature come through in the best songs that he wrote for Queen ("Somebody to Love," "Love of My Life," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "It's a Hard Life," "Save Me," etc.). But Jones, although never directly, allows her reade This is a solid and very moving biography of Freddie Mercury, one of my greatest heroes and role models. Jones is at her best when describing the introverted and caring man behind the glossy exterior of the world's best frontman. Of course, Freddie's loneliness and romantic nature come through in the best songs that he wrote for Queen ("Somebody to Love," "Love of My Life," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "It's a Hard Life," "Save Me," etc.). But Jones, although never directly, allows her reader to glimpse the strong interpersonal relationships, generosity, and longing for understanding that contribute to the composition of Freddie's song, as well as his sense of despondency that, despite his larger-than-life persona, the singer was never able to shake. In fact, the book even speculates that Freddie's reckless use of drugs and dangerous experiences in gay clubs in the late 1970s and early 1980s may have been a way of destroying himself, a way of bringing about his early death. Jones does tend to discuss Freddie's sexuality more than the complexities of his music - and this decision is problematic for any reader who's seriously interested in the man as a musician who could sing in four octaves, play the piano extremely well, and occasionally write songs of a compositional complexity that rivals some classical composers or, at the very least, Brian Wilson. It IS important to know that Freddie was a sexual omnivore. His appetite for both sexes - and, in the second half of his life, mainly men - destroys the commonly held perception (the perception of non-Queen fans) that he was exclusively gay. Mercury was a man of great complexity - emotional, sexual, musical, intellectual, you name it. I'm hoping that at some point, I'll come across a Mercury or Queen bio that discusses the importance of Freddie's Zoroastrian upbringing on his life. Jones kind of gets there, with her comments on how Freddie had to remain closeted because his homosexual tendencies were against his religious upbringing. He, therefore, couldn't come out to his family. She also touches on Zoroastrian burial rituals near the end of her text. But I wanted more on how Freddie's religious upbringing impacted his songwriting and performance style. One final point. Jones deftly handles Freddie's final days, creating him almost as a tragic figure. If Freddie had a tragic flaw, it was perhaps his addiction to excess, which probably came from his continual longing for love and stability. After he became the legendary frontman of Queen, he could only pursue his quest for love through excess. Thankfully, he found a core group of friends, lovers, and bandmates who truly cared for him and helped him ease his way into death by serving as nurses or plowing through the heated recording sessions for The Miracle, Innuendo, and Made in Heaven. So Freddie's life teaches us that we, too, can be caring and compassionate, even in the face of death. It simply took the excesses of his partying and performing - and the greatness of his music - to teach us what a true saint a human being can be. Need proof? Listen to the lyrics that Freddie wrote for the final three Queen albums. And the man could sing opera!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cynda

    Good bio. Good number of pics. I would have liked pics of studio and houses, pics of his infamous 39th birthday party, pics of his hottest, largest success at Live Aid. I appreciate that Lesley-Ann Jones allowed the interviewees to have their say instead of limiting them to short quotes. Part of this was necessary because Freddie Mercury divided up himself between people, kept things compartmentalized. Since many times Freddie would be betrayed by friends and lovers and other professi Good bio. Good number of pics. I would have liked pics of studio and houses, pics of his infamous 39th birthday party, pics of his hottest, largest success at Live Aid. I appreciate that Lesley-Ann Jones allowed the interviewees to have their say instead of limiting them to short quotes. Part of this was necessary because Freddie Mercury divided up himself between people, kept things compartmentalized. Since many times Freddie would be betrayed by friends and lovers and other professionals, he did compartmentalize. Through the long quotes, we see Freddie through various peoples' eyes. Amazingly--or not--I seem to just now have discovered Freddie Mercury and Queen. I have spent days reading and then watching videos of their songs. My favorite Queen songs: "We are the Champion," "We Will Rock You," and "Bohemian Rhapsody". My favorite performamce: Live Aid. My favorite Freddie video: "The Great Pretender," the extended version. Ino completing this bio, I complete my most recent obsession.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    I have to admit up front that I've been a huge Queen fan since the 70s when I was a kid listening to their music. They remain one of my favorite groups of all time, and I believe Freddie was the greatest front man of any band ever. Now that that's out the way, how was the book? In a word -- splendid! I just put away a biography on another favorite of mine -- David Bowie -- cause the authors just seemed to want to skewer him and it really put a damper on my enthusiasm for the man. I ha I have to admit up front that I've been a huge Queen fan since the 70s when I was a kid listening to their music. They remain one of my favorite groups of all time, and I believe Freddie was the greatest front man of any band ever. Now that that's out the way, how was the book? In a word -- splendid! I just put away a biography on another favorite of mine -- David Bowie -- cause the authors just seemed to want to skewer him and it really put a damper on my enthusiasm for the man. I had to stop reading it to save what I still liked about him. So I was nervous in picking up a book on Freddie Mercury, fearing something similar might happen. Not to worry. The author, Lesley-Ann Jones, does a truly magnificent job of thorough research and exhaustive writing to put out a rather unbiased book on a great singer, one which elucidates while still making clear that no one ever truly knew the man well. He was one thing to his family, another to his first girlfriend (yes, girlfriend) Mary, another to his lover Jim, another to his German lover Barbara, another to his band mates, another to his fans, and so on and so on. One thing that was clear was that his bombastic personality while on stage didn't transfer to his personal life, where he was generally quite shy. Jones starts the book with his upbringing on Zanzibar and his boarding schooling in India and interviews relatives, in some cases, fairly distant relatives. I mean, the author really went all out. It was fascinating to read about the band's early struggles and the making of "Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen's masterpiece. My primary complaint is not much time is spent on other songs. I would have loved more than one line about "We Will Rock You" or "Another One Bites The Dust," and more than a paragraph or two on "We Are The Champions." Some of the albums barely merit more than a paragraph, and while I know Jones wanted to chronicle their infamous hard core rock and roll partying, it gets a bit repetitive after awhile. I think more meat could have been added to the songs and albums, at least some of them. It was sad to read about Freddie's personal life, his love life. He was always being used and he seemed to never be content with one person, other than Mary, with whom he stopped having a sexual relationship after six years. Incidentally, I knew this, but Freddie left the vast majority of his estate to Mary when he died in 1991. One would have thought his gay lover(s), but nope, Mary. He also never clearly came out to his family. That I didn't know. It was for religious reasons. It was great fun reading about Freddie's enthusiasm about ballet and opera, about his run in with Sid Vicious in a studio when both were recording at the same time, about his spending sprees, his wild orgies, etc, etc. And face it, the man was a genius with a four octave range. What talent. Pity he had to die of AIDS so young. It was shocking to read how many of his friends and lovers were dropping like flies during the 80s. Really shocking. I would have liked more about the band as a whole, but alas, the book was about Freddie, and if I want to read about Queen, I guess I'll have to get a good Queen bio, eh? Great book, fun read, hard to put down, worth five stars....

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    After seeing Bohemian Rhapsody in theatres, I knew there was way more to the Freddie Mercury story than was presented to me through the straightwashed film, so I began a quest to obtain more information in order to learn more about the enigmatic lead singer of Queen. My local library had two books on Freddie Mercury, and this book had the shorter wait list, so, 3 weeks later, here I am to write my review. I was mainly hoping to learn more about the things that happened in his life that shaped hi After seeing Bohemian Rhapsody in theatres, I knew there was way more to the Freddie Mercury story than was presented to me through the straightwashed film, so I began a quest to obtain more information in order to learn more about the enigmatic lead singer of Queen. My local library had two books on Freddie Mercury, and this book had the shorter wait list, so, 3 weeks later, here I am to write my review. I was mainly hoping to learn more about the things that happened in his life that shaped him to be such a theatrical performer (his design background, his vocal & piano training, his inspiration for his on-stage outfits, etc.), but, spoiler alert, I did not obtain it. To summarize what I learned: Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar as Farrokh Bulsara on Sept. 5, 1946. His parents sent him to school in India where he obtained the nickname Freddie. When Freddie was 18, his family fled from Zanzibar to escape the revolution and moved to London, England. Freddie studied Graphic Art and Design at Ealing Art College and eventually joined Brian May & Roger Taylor in a band that would be called Queen (John Deacon was the last member to join the band). Queen released 14 albums with Freddie Mercury and were hugely successful worldwide. Freddie died of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS on November 24, 1991. On the whole, I did not love this book. I think perhaps the main takeaway, as I see it, is that Freddie Mercury was, as best as he could be, an extremely private person that guarded his emotions and his heart and seemed to have done The Absolute Most (drugs, sex, alcohol - the usual) to avoid dealing with his truths (namely, his sexuality). Because Freddie was so private, and because he has unfortunately passed away, we will never know all the answers to the questions we have about his life. All that we have left is the point of view of people who were involved in Freddie's life in some way, and that, is the premise of this book. The people interviewed in this book knew Freddie in some capacity, and their words and their perceptions were recorded to create the narrative surrounding Freddie's life in this "intimate" biography. There's a chance I might've rated this book one star higher if not for the writing surrounding the concept of Freddie's sexuality. Some of the things written about Freddie were beyond comprehension: "He was gay, but not exclusively gay." "Because by this time Freddie had chosen to be gay..." "The greatest irony of Freddie's life is that, though he was essentially gay, his most meaningful relationship was with a woman." Worse still, there is a section of this book that accuses two individuals of possibly being the ones to have infected Freddie with HIV. There are SO many things wrong with this! There is absolutely no way for us to find out how Freddie contracted HIV and it is inexplicable that two individuals were name dropped for a question that will never be answered! I understand that this book was originally written in 1997 (released Jan. 1, 1998) and things were different then (note: it was also revised in 2012 for the then impending release of Bohemian Rhapsody), but, just as a reminder for the readers of today: 1. sexuality is a spectrum, and, 2. homosexuality is not a choice. Because Freddie never publicly came out and rarely seemed to address his sexuality, we do not know what he identified as (if anything) and to write about his sexuality and relationships this way is irresponsible, dismissive and unfair. In Bohemian Rhapsody and in this book, Mary Austin and Barbara Valentin are given more clout as Freddie's former (female) lovers more than say, Jim Hutton, who was Freddie's (male) partner for the last six years of his life. I sensed a thinly veiled layer of homophobia while reading this book and I was not living for it. Unfortunately, it really impacted my ability to enjoy this book. After I finished this book, I watched a documentary called Freddie Mercury: the King of Queen. Between the documentary, this book, and Bohemian Rhapsody, very few things matched up. I take this as more evidence that it's a job to say what things were really like for Freddie Mercury and honestly, there's probably something nice about that.

  15. 5 out of 5

    rachid idjiou

    I have enjoyed being a rock fan since 2000, I love listening to Queens songs like I want to break free, Crazy little things called love, Radio Gaga, We will rock you, Under Pressure, The Show must go on. There were so much energy and strength in Queen's music. I know that Freddie Mercury was the greatest frontman of all time, but I ignored that he was a rock star, with African and Indian roots, he was born in Zanzibar, his parents emigrated to England. He started playing at school parties and ch I have enjoyed being a rock fan since 2000, I love listening to Queens songs like I want to break free, Crazy little things called love, Radio Gaga, We will rock you, Under Pressure, The Show must go on. There were so much energy and strength in Queen's music. I know that Freddie Mercury was the greatest frontman of all time, but I ignored that he was a rock star, with African and Indian roots, he was born in Zanzibar, his parents emigrated to England. He started playing at school parties and church ceremonies. One day he met Roger and Brian they created Queen. One of the best rock baof all time. Freddie Mercury was popular and unique his life remains a mystery , Leslie Ann Jones took us back to a memory and. to understand how life was for Freddie Mercury.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Perri

    Freddie Mercury was certainly an enigma. A man with addictive tendencies who took vices to excess, I have to wonder if he'd have lived long even if he hadn't become a rock star. But the book helped me understand what made him a world wide legend... amazing vocal range, driven work ethic and exacting perfection for his craft and a charismatic stage presence. Pairing the book with You Tube videos of his performances really made him come to life. So now onto Bohemian Rhapsody

  17. 5 out of 5

    Romi || Romi Reads

    Ever since I saw the movie Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time in cinema, I've called myself a Queen fan. Yes, I was one of those who really began to listen to Queen's songs after seeing the movie. Before that I also listened to their music occasionally. I found the movie - Freddie's story - to be so inspiring that I couldn't get it out of my head afterwards. It's still on my mind very often and I can't wait for the DVD to arrive!  Like I said, I found Freddie's story a very inspirin Ever since I saw the movie Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time in cinema, I've called myself a Queen fan. Yes, I was one of those who really began to listen to Queen's songs after seeing the movie. Before that I also listened to their music occasionally. I found the movie - Freddie's story - to be so inspiring that I couldn't get it out of my head afterwards. It's still on my mind very often and I can't wait for the DVD to arrive!  Like I said, I found Freddie's story a very inspiring one and I wanted to know everything about it. The thing I found the most inspiring in the movie was that Freddie simply did what he was passionated about and didn't let anyone get in his way. I could definitely use some, maybe better not all of it, of that ambition! Besides that I think Freddie was a really special person and very loving to those who mattered to him.  This, and more, was all captured in this biography written by Lesley-Ann Jones. Just like the movie, it showed the good, but also the bad. It didn't put Freddie on a pedestal only because he was so great and perfect. Of course, Freddie wasn't perfect, but his imperfections were also what made him such a great performer and loved by so many.  If you're a Queen fan, but even if you're not, this biography is a must-read. It not only tells of Freddie, but also of the band Queen, its rising and the time it all took place. 

  18. 4 out of 5

    Indrė

    What can you say about a diva like Freddie? A deeply polarizing persona, full of contrasts - shy and introverted, yet larger than life itself. I was literally 5 days old, when he died, but as my sister once asked "how come we all know lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody? Or Somebody to love? Or any other timeless song of Queen?" We just do. Seriously. Maybe we were born already knowing them? Just like Freddie - he was already born a ringmaster, with this unapologetic star charisma. Very few artist have What can you say about a diva like Freddie? A deeply polarizing persona, full of contrasts - shy and introverted, yet larger than life itself. I was literally 5 days old, when he died, but as my sister once asked "how come we all know lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody? Or Somebody to love? Or any other timeless song of Queen?" We just do. Seriously. Maybe we were born already knowing them? Just like Freddie - he was already born a ringmaster, with this unapologetic star charisma. Very few artist have that quality (the book lists Frank Sinatra, I would add Lady Gaga as well). Even after he's long gone, he's never really gone.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Arthita Banerjee

    I am not the one to write reviews but it will take me a while before I get over how involved the writer got me with the distinctive and remarkable person that Freddie was. Like any other Queen fan, I was soaked up with adulation for the frontman that transcended all bounds of sexual glorification. I had watched almost all documentaries that were made about him and the band but Jones's account details out a narrative so raw that my heart sank by the end. The whole account is distributed over I am not the one to write reviews but it will take me a while before I get over how involved the writer got me with the distinctive and remarkable person that Freddie was. Like any other Queen fan, I was soaked up with adulation for the frontman that transcended all bounds of sexual glorification. I had watched almost all documentaries that were made about him and the band but Jones's account details out a narrative so raw that my heart sank by the end. The whole account is distributed over 25 chapters and the most striking part being, the chapters opening with a statement by Freddie and a retell by someone closely connected with the event. The book starts on a high note describing what Live-Aid meant for the band and how the electrifying performance prevented Queen from disbanding. Brian thought they didn't know until that evening that they'd have already lived and left the most glorious 18 minutes of their lives behind. It also takes into account one of the most intimate issues to him-his bisexuality. Two of his closest female companions were of the view that he wasn't actually gay, he chose to be one to do what was out of bounds for him, coming from a Zoroastrian background. He was the great pretender- the ultimate showman. When 'Bo-Rap' came out it was described by the press as the "musical equivalent of the JFK assassination". There is also an attempt at explaining how the biggest hit was really, just, Freddie's coming out song, Scaramouch was Freddie himself, Galileo, the 16th century astronomer was Brian- the astrophysicist and so on.. Anyone, with the slightest interest in the band would be thrilled to bits reading how high on life the band rode, their extravagant debaucherous parties and ultimately taking on every continent with 704 live performances fronted by Freddie. He loved the big life he'd created for himself, the book quotes him saying" I don't like all of that country air and cow dung". He wanted to get wheeled around the stage singing Bohemian Rhapsody when he'd be too old to perform standing. He created a fantasy for himself that devoured him but his music set him free. There was never and there will never be another frontman of the rock and roll world like him.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ray Campbell

    The History of Rock & Roll is a place I go to visit my heroes in shabby cold water flats in Manchester, Liverpool and London. It's gloomy, but hopeful and the alleys we run down with our mates are narrow, shadowy and rife with the smell of dinners cooking in a dozen kitchens. As a train whistle blows on it's way to the future where there are hordes of young people worshiping at the alter of the Church of the Sacred Guitar Solo. Someone found a guitar and a recording of a real American blues The History of Rock & Roll is a place I go to visit my heroes in shabby cold water flats in Manchester, Liverpool and London. It's gloomy, but hopeful and the alleys we run down with our mates are narrow, shadowy and rife with the smell of dinners cooking in a dozen kitchens. As a train whistle blows on it's way to the future where there are hordes of young people worshiping at the alter of the Church of the Sacred Guitar Solo. Someone found a guitar and a recording of a real American blues player and nothing is ever the same. This is not the story of Freddie Mercury! Queen was middle class, university educated and raised in relative luxury. Freddie, born to a Parsi family in Tanzania, attended a boarding school near Mumbai. Well educated and younger than my heroes, Freddie and the boys came of age in the context of a corporation that made innovative music. I love the sound of that music, but this wasn't the scrappy story of fighting in the clubs that characterize the adventures of musicians who rose to fame only a few years earlier. This story spent as much time with Freddie's struggles with sexuality as it did with the struggle to negotiate a profitable contract. I love Queen and it still doesn't seem possible that I live in a world without Freddie. I know the songs I love so well that they define me, they are part of who I am. Joni had it right: "songs are like tattoos". I know the voices, melodies and guitar solos. The people who created these sounds are real and present in my life. So please be clear, it was a joy to learn the details of Freddie's life, it just wasn't anything like other rock bios I've enjoyed. This is truly the story of Freddie, not the music or Queen, and Freddie was about the music only in as far as it served the show. If you read other Rock bios, I think you'll find that most are about the music while the show is a vehicle for the music. In Freddie's world, the show comes first - he was such a queen! I miss him.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Junemarie Brandt

    It is difficult to write a biography of someone as reticent as the late Freddie Mercury. Despite his flamboyant stage persona, Mercury was incredibly shy and secretive about his private feelings. Jones does a great job of recreating the thrill of Live Aid in 1985, perhaps the moment of Queen's greatest glory, and delves into his complex relationship with Mary Austin, whom he called his "common law wife" and was the recipient of most of his fortune. There are some quotes from his fello It is difficult to write a biography of someone as reticent as the late Freddie Mercury. Despite his flamboyant stage persona, Mercury was incredibly shy and secretive about his private feelings. Jones does a great job of recreating the thrill of Live Aid in 1985, perhaps the moment of Queen's greatest glory, and delves into his complex relationship with Mary Austin, whom he called his "common law wife" and was the recipient of most of his fortune. There are some quotes from his fellow band members, and from the people who surrounded Freddie as Queen toured and produced music. A little too much searching for "clues" to Freddie's personality in Zanzibar and India, where he was raised, when there wasn't much to find. In the later chapter the book becomes dangerously close to just being a litany of Freddie's lovers, which doesn't add to the book. And my biggest peeve is that it buys into the myth that Americans were somehow offended by the cross dressing in the "I Want to Break Free" video. Queen's failure to achieve superstar status in the US were much more related to record company and radio station politics. For Queen fans, however, this will be a fascinating and satisfying read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Bridgeman

    My lovely husband bought this for me for Christmas, as I am big Queen fan, but didn’t really have an indepth book on the life of iconic pop and rock star, Freddie Mercury. We have lots of photo books, such as ‘The Great Pretender’, but this is described as definitive, with unparallel access granted to the author so I was very intrigued to read this ! ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is written by a journalist and broadcaster who is a specialist in music and media and who spent time with My lovely husband bought this for me for Christmas, as I am big Queen fan, but didn’t really have an indepth book on the life of iconic pop and rock star, Freddie Mercury. We have lots of photo books, such as ‘The Great Pretender’, but this is described as definitive, with unparallel access granted to the author so I was very intrigued to read this ! ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is written by a journalist and broadcaster who is a specialist in music and media and who spent time with Freddie, as well travelling on the road with Queen. What Lesly-Ann Jones does is more than bring a fresh perspective to a figure that everyone feels as if they know ,she shines a light into the world of music journalism in the hey day of the 80’s and 90’s. I found this absolutely fascinating, because the advent of the internet paradoxically brings celebrities closer than ever before, whilst control of their image has never been more manufactured and closely guarded. Starting in Montreux, going onto the well documented Live Aid performance , and then doubling back to Freddie’s early years with meticulous research and supporting evidence, this is a biography and social history . The text is interspersed with intimate images, of which many won’t have been seen eslewhere. The quotes and anecdotes come not just from expected sources such as Queen members, and fellow artists at the time, the only thing I would say I found that I didn’t enjoy-not that I was looking for anything or is something that this author does, it happens a lot– is the mythologising of Bob Geldof and his contribution to Live Aid. Multiple sources have revealed it was actually the brainchild of Paula Yates yet she is rarely, if ever, credited with this, but that is a personal bugbear.I roll my eyes every time his name is mentioned because he is a self aggrandising manchild in my humble opinion (sits back and waits for brickbats to land…hey it’s my blog and I just don’t like him). ‘Do you know,that’s exactly the thing that keeps me awake at night,’ he mused.’I’ve created a monster.The monster is me.I can’t blame anyone else.It’s what I’ve worked for since I was a kid .I would have killed for this.Whatever happens to me is all my fault .It’s what I wanted.It’s what we all strive for .Success,money,fame,sex,drugs-whatever you want .I can have it.But now I’m beginning to see that as much as I created it,I want to escape from it.I’m starting to worry that I can’t control it, as much as it controls me.’ Anyway..swiftly moving on , detail and historical background is rarely touched on when talking about Freddie in tv documentaries or books so I personally found it fascinating and very sad when she talks about visiting Zanzibar and eloquently describes it as the ‘anti-Graceland’. Not a trace of Freddie is to be found , it’s as if he is written out of the history books, a value judgement based on his lifestyle -which still makes me outrageously angry whenever I read about laws which effectively prohibit people being in love. OUTRAGED! However, as the book goes on to illustrate, there are memorials and statues around the world which honour not only his musical legacy, but also his contribution to fighting prejudice. Lesley-Ann Jones manages to weave a tale that almost seems fictional, I found myself completely lost in her words as she deftly juggles the focus of the biography-Freddie-whilst contextualising him in popular culture AND tracking the specatacular rises and falls, and rises again, of Queen. It could have been a very hard to follow read, or a very dry one but what I loved was that as well as the author’s own voice, Freddie’s rang through loud and clear.She returns him to us with some mysteries intact and without invading his privacy by laying him bare. She gives us, the fans of Queen and of Freddie, more reasons to love him. This book is absolutely a work of heart.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Who doesn't love a good Queen song? In this book, Jones attempts to share the story of Freddie Mercury. That of course includes the success of the band as a whole. The book also attempts to take a looking at the details of Mercury's life, both before he was hit by stardom and how his legacy stands after his death. While she certainly strives not to hide any of the good and bad that was a part of his life, she also doesn't overly focus on controversy. The reader certainly feels as if t Who doesn't love a good Queen song? In this book, Jones attempts to share the story of Freddie Mercury. That of course includes the success of the band as a whole. The book also attempts to take a looking at the details of Mercury's life, both before he was hit by stardom and how his legacy stands after his death. While she certainly strives not to hide any of the good and bad that was a part of his life, she also doesn't overly focus on controversy. The reader certainly feels as if they are getting to know the real Mercury. I am sure a lot of that is tied to the fact that the writer knew him personally, but also because she has included so many direct quotes from friends, family, and fans. He was a superstar, and he was a man with a dream. I know that I really enjoyed this read. There is no way to not find yourself hearing the band's music in your head as you make your way through the pages. This is definitely worth a read if you are a fan of Queen's music or music history, in general.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nashwa

    "He died young. Instead of becoming a fat, bloated, self-important old queen, he was cut off in his prime and is preserved at that age for eternity." I think the above-mentioned quote from the prologue set the tone of this book. Freddie Mercury’s contribution to the world of music cannot be ignored and is revered to this day. For me, this was the third biography about Freddie Mercury as I read “Somebody to Love” by Matt Richards and Mark Langthrone and “Freddie Mercury: His Life in Own Words” la "He died young. Instead of becoming a fat, bloated, self-important old queen, he was cut off in his prime and is preserved at that age for eternity." I think the above-mentioned quote from the prologue set the tone of this book. Freddie Mercury’s contribution to the world of music cannot be ignored and is revered to this day. For me, this was the third biography about Freddie Mercury as I read “Somebody to Love” by Matt Richards and Mark Langthrone and “Freddie Mercury: His Life in Own Words” last year. By this point, I’m pretty familiar with Queen’s history so this proved to be a very quick read for me. Rating wise, it stands between 3 and 4 stars, because “Somebody to Love” had more of a profound effect on me because of its focus on AIDS. The advantage of reading the earlier books is also that now I’m more familiar with Queen music, so the connections were instant. I would recognize the lyrics mentioned and my brain would automatically add the melody. Compared to the other biographies, there are minor contradictions but nothing that would take away from the legend of Freddie Mercury. For me, the best piece of new information was that before he took Mercury as his last name, he referred to himself as “Fredbull.” A major takeaway from this book is about Mercury’s personality, his old school British mannerisms, how small he seemed physically to people after being a given the status of a rock god and how he had this drive to constantly prove himself. Time and time again, he was frustrated because he recognized his own potential and for a long time, it was not fulfilled. I also enjoyed the political focus of this book. One of the major controversies Queen faced in their career was when they played in apartheid South Africa and were banned by the Musicians Union for a while. At the same time, they also played in countries where dictatorships were in place such as Brazil and Argentina, and played in Hungary at the height of the Cold War when the Iron Curtain was still in place. Although, it would appear that Queen came full circle in South Africa as Brian May played at Mandela’s 90th birthday in the post apartheid era. This book focused on the fact that as striking and brilliant as he was, Freddie Mercury is not considered an idol to the gay community because he never publicly came out. It’s stated in the book as “had he come out from the beginning, his long, slow death would have been something that the gay community could have thanked him for.” However, his death brought a lot of attention to the global pandemic of AIDS. All in all, he was the greatest front man in rock history and one of the most celebrated things about Queen is how they incorporated crowd participation into their shows.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    What a beautiful and interesting book. I grew up listening to Queen with my dad and older brother but reading about the man as an adult myself now was eye opening. I'm sure as a star he had hangers on in his life but everybody close to him spoke about him in such a loving and touching way and that is overwhelming. What a sad end to a beautiful talent and from the sound of it a loving and kindred spirit.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    😭😭😭😭😭😁😁😁😁👍👍👍 Miss you Freddie!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Izzy Rizzo

    IM DROWNING IN MY OWN TEARS. not really sure why I expected any less... literally my heart is shattering and I cannot believe that I miss a man so much , a man that lived many years before I was born. Seriously, what an amazing life :,) love you freddie , always ❤ IM DROWNING IN MY OWN TEARS. not really sure why I expected any less... literally my heart is shattering and I cannot believe that I miss a man so much , a man that lived many years before I was born. Seriously, what an amazing life :,) love you freddie , always ❤️

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Slack

    Not necessarily a bad biography but didn’t seem to be very in depth. I was looking for more insight into the voice, the song writing, where the song writing ideas came from, etc.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I grew up listening to classic rock bands like Queen (thanks Dad!). I think I knew the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” before I knew which months had 30 or 31 days. Fast forward many years later to getting my driver’s license. My friends and I used to jam out listening to “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Will Rock You”. So, naturally, when the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was announced, I was excited. It peaked my curiosity. Here was a movie about a band that I grew up listening to and would come an I grew up listening to classic rock bands like Queen (thanks Dad!). I think I knew the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” before I knew which months had 30 or 31 days. Fast forward many years later to getting my driver’s license. My friends and I used to jam out listening to “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Will Rock You”. So, naturally, when the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was announced, I was excited. It peaked my curiosity. Here was a movie about a band that I grew up listening to and would come and go from my music playlists all my life. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted more information. I’d recently gone through my own struggles of learning who I am, what I want, and how to get there. I wanted to know about Freddie Mercury – a man who lived his life the way he wanted and made no apologies for it. After an internet search, to which there were many hits, I found Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones. One of the things that drew me to this particular biography was Jones’s background. She was touring journalist with Queen. She had access to the band that very few other journalists had. A band known for their privacy, Jones had the opportunity to see first-hand the aura and mystique that followed Queen, especially their front man, Freddie Mercury. As I began reading, I noticed something about Jones’s writing that I found interesting. Typically, you would expect a biography or a memoir to be written in chronological order tracking the subject in a linear timeline. Instead, Jones structured her work around major events in the life of Mercury and Queen. I’ve seen other authors use this format: No Limits by Michael Phelps and Alan Abrahamson and Acrobaddict by Joe Putignano. I find this particular format intriguing because it provides more of a complete image of the events surrounding a person’s life. At the same time, it also allows the writer to focus on that particular event in detail instead of having to move on to the next entry on the timeline. Jones also manages to maintain an objective perspective on Mercury’s life. She doesn’t sensationalize; she doesn’t judge. She simply tells what happened. Maybe this is because the story of Freddie Mercury’s rise and how Queen conquered the world is outrageous enough that she didn’t need to be over the top. Maybe it simply isn’t her writing style. Either way, I greatly appreciate her ability to remove any judgement from her writing. The one drawback that I encountered with this biography is how long it took me to read it. However, this is not a critique of Jones or her writing. It is the nature of the subject material. I am not familiar with the behind the scenes workings of the music industry. So, I found myself having to stop and do additional research to connect some of the dots in the rise of Queen. This including the running list of names of managers, music execs, lovers, assistants, etc. that were a part of the world of Queen. Then, I would have to re-research those same names when they appeared later in the book in different circumstances. In the end, this was one of the most enjoyable biographies I’ve ever read. It shined a light on one of music’s most ostentatious, yet private front men. This is a definite must read for any fan of classic rock, Queen, Freddie Mercury, or the music industry. Just be prepared to a bit of your own research if you aren’t familiar with the inner workings of the music industry.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alondra Maldonado

    I would consider Freddie Mercury one of the best frontman of all times. The Queen singer was the most complex. His sexuality: emotionally drawn to women, sexually drawn to men. Personality: he was shy with the press and the public — until he went on stage, when he became an incandescent god. I would never exclude the others from Queen's greatness: Brian May (guitarist), John Deacon (bassist), and Roger Taylor (drummer). From all musical acts, I would say Queen was among the most talented ones wh I would consider Freddie Mercury one of the best frontman of all times. The Queen singer was the most complex. His sexuality: emotionally drawn to women, sexually drawn to men. Personality: he was shy with the press and the public — until he went on stage, when he became an incandescent god. I would never exclude the others from Queen's greatness: Brian May (guitarist), John Deacon (bassist), and Roger Taylor (drummer). From all musical acts, I would say Queen was among the most talented ones who brought new elements to the public's ear. I was in search for a Queen biography which is what I'm diving into next, but I couldn't help but start with a Freddie Mercury biography- one where an author had actually met the wonderful, talent, man himself. As lead singer of the band Queen, Freddy Mercury was a pure showman, fusing opera, theater, pop, and rock. Jones presents a candid life story of this rare phenomenon and chronicles Queen’s musical superstardom. Born Farrokh “Fred” Bulsara in Zanzibar and raised a Zoroastrian Parsee (a religious community that abhors homosexuality), Mercury’s family moved to “swinging” London where his musical talents flourished. There he developed his “flamboyant and melodramatic” stage persona to counter the shy and insecure self later epitomized in his recording of “The Great Pretender.” Though he “preferred [his] sex without any involvement,” his relations with women and sexual exploits with men “embroiled him in a distressing tangle of love affairs.” Mercury’s story is the tragedy of music royalty descending into dark excesses, the escalation of drug and drink usage that culminated in the worldwide news of his death from AIDS. Though it will appeal to more than just Queen obsessives, Jones’s band history proves to be the ultimate fan’s resource: she thoroughly documents the development of each album’s release, promotion, reviews, and infamous tours—including the background and production of their classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In this exhaustively enjoyable read, Jones combines her own detailed research with the brutal honesty of family and friends, media and music insiders, bandmates and bedmates. Its a good place to start for a Freddie Mercury fan, and to get a better concept of the man behind the big personality.

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