In this article we continue with our ten Queen facts which we found most remarkable. Before we dive in; are you sure you’ve already read part 1 of these 10 Queen facts? Then let’s dig into part 2. Strap in, because it’s gonna be a wild ride!
6. John Deacon - the bassist AND barkeep of Queen
They say that still waters run deep. John Deacon is no exception!
John obviously was the quiet one of the group. However, world fame didn’t leave him unspoiled. He had some very specific demands on stage. Next to his controle rack there had to be a mini-bar with water, beer, softdrinks, spirits and cocktails he fancied at the moment: Southern Comfort, vodka or tequila. They always had to guarantee that the provided glasses were made out of glass. Apparently Deacon has a phobia for plastic cups. Apart from the drinks, the bar also had to contain a mix of assorted nuts and chocolate M&Ms.
So if you see freaky Deacy leave the stage, he was either adjusting the volume of his bass or, more likely, mixing a cocktail and having a little me-time. Think about the long audience participations which Freddie enjoyed so much. Or what about May’s extended guitar solos during Brighton Rock?
John was very clear that after Mercury’s passing Queen couldn’t go on. He shared the stage with the remaining members of Queen a couple more times, but it didn’t feel right anymore. You can still see him in the ‘Queen+’ show they did in April 1992 and one final time in 1997. For Queen+Béjart ‘Ballet for life’ they accompanied Elton John in a rendition of ‘The show must go on’. That was his final appearance with Queen.
7. Crazy little thing called 'inspirado'
Every musician knows that when inspiration knocks on your door, you don’t keep it waiting. When that rare friend ‘inspirado’ calls you, you need to drop everything and get to writing and recording there and then! Freddie was known for having fully written songs in his head. It is said that he had the entire operatic section to Bohemian Rhapsody completely figured out in his head. The other band members hadn’t heard a single note of it when the time to record it arrived; talk about blind faith.
In 1979 Queen was in Munich for the intensive recording of their new album ‘The Game’. After a long day, Freddie retired to his room in the Bayerischer Hof Hotel to have himself a warm bath and unwind. According to Freddie’s personal roadie, Peter ‘Ratty’ Hince, the bathroom door suddenly swung open revealing an uneasy Freddie drapped in a bath towel.
He needed a guitar straight away, because he had an idea for a rock and roll song. In less than 10 minutes he wrote ‘Crazy little thing called love’ right there and then.
Freddie would usually write his songs at the piano, but he was convinced that his choice for the guitar made this song a hit. He didn’t think much of himself as a guitarist. Because he didn’t know a lot of chords on the guitar he was very limited in the choices he could make. Working in such a small frame challenged him to make a really straight-forward and solid song.
You already noticed that this isn’t your typical Queen hit. Whilst writing the song, Mercury wanted to write a song which would be suitable for Elvis; who had died 2 years earlier. Queen proved they weren’t afraid of a some ‘old time Rock & Roll’ by always adding some Little Richard or Elvis Presley hits to their setlists. Nobody knew what the fans might think of this ‘crazy little thing’ though. It was a slam dunk, because it became Queen’s very first number 1 hit in America; the birthplace of Rock &Roll.
8. Freddie and MJ – A story of love and llamas
Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson were the most beautiful duet we never had. They were both extraordinary performers and pioneers in their style. It was no secret that there was a strong mutual respect between the two singers. Whenever Queen performed shows at The Forum in L.A., Michael Jackson was always listening in. After meeting a couple of times the subject of collaborating came up quite quickly.
Before the official release of ‘The Game’, Jackson was given a copy to give some feedback about the record. The King of Pop advised to make ‘Another one bites the dust’ the single. That proved to be a killer move. During an interview with Rolling Stone Michael said “Now you’re gonna start listening to, right, Freddie?” to which Freddie responded “Righto, little brother”. The trust was built and they decided to dive into the studio together. They started writing three demos: ‘There must be more to life than this’, ‘State of shock’ and ‘Victory’. There are multiple reasons why these demos were never released. The official excuse was that both artist had a very busy schedule, making it impossible to keep working on the demos. When you look into it, the real reason seems to be a bit more peculiar.
Apparently Freddie couldn’t adjust to Michael’s way of working. Queens manager, Jim ‘Miami’ Beach got a call from Freddie one day demanding to get him out of Jackson’s studio straight away. When Jim asked what the problem was, Freddie told him that he wasn’t used to recording with a llama present. Apparently Michael made a habit of taking his pet llama with him in the studio. One time he even asked the llama for advice. Kidding or not, that drew the line for Mercury. He left and that was the end of the collaboration.
‘State of shock’ was later released by Michael Jackson as a duet with Mich Jagger in 1984. ‘There must be more to life than this’ was reworked to a solo song and released on Mercury’s solo album ‘Mr. Bad Guy’ in 1985.
Fortunately not everything from the recording sessions for the Mercury-Jackson duets got thrown away. In 2014 Queen released a compilation album called ‘Queen Forever’. On that album you can hear a version of what ‘There must be more to life than this’ might have sounded as a duet with Michael Jackson. You can also find a demo version of ‘State of shock’ with Freddie instead of Mick Jagger. This is definitely not a finished production, but we get a taste of what might have been. ‘Victory’, the third song of the collaboration remains in the vault for now. Maybe we’ll get to hear it in a couple of years.
9. Eltons Christmas gift from heaven
Elton John and Freddie Mercury were like two peas in a pod. There were no secrets between these guys. They went clubbing together almost every night till the wee small hours of the morning. Freddie loved giving his closest friends female names. Brian May was ‘Maggie’, Roger Taylor became ‘Liz’, he called himself ‘Melina’ and Elton got stuck with ‘Sharon’.
Elton still speaks of their friendship with a lot of love. Often times he talks about how horrible it was to see the decaying Freddie in his bed surrounded with his medicine bottles. Eventhough he couldn’t stand anymore and lost most of his sight, Freddie kept smiling, making jokes and buying pieces of art. Mercury didn’t fear death, that much was clear! He lived from day to day.
Mercury died on 24 November and Elton was devastated. Barely one month later, on Christmas day, a mutual friend rang Eltons doorbell to give him a pillow case. When he looked inside, it appeared to be a gift from Freddie. Mercury purchased it before he died, knowing full well that he wouldn’t live to see the day. Inside the pillow case was a painting of Eltons favourite painter, Henry Scott Tuke. With the painting came a note saying “Dear Sharon, I thought you’d like this. Love Melina. Happy Christmas.”
Even in his final days Freddie was more concerned with his friends and the gifts they’d get on Christmas then himself. Elton still keeps the paining on an easel and the pillow case next to his bed. Real friendship never dies!
10. Where is Freddie burried?
Freddie and Marie Austin were extremely close. They were romantically involved in their younger years. When Queen’s career started to really take off, Freddie came to realise that he was in fact gay. Despite their break-up, they remained very close and Freddie kept referring to her as the ‘Love of my life’. The importance of Marie was emphasized again in his will. 50% of his capital went to her as well as 50% of his future earnings.
“I didn’t want anyone to suspect that I was doing anything other than what I would normally do. I said I was going for a facial. It had to be convincing. It was very hard to find the moment. I just sneaked out of the house with the urn. It had to be like a normal day so the staff wouldn’t suspect anything. But nobody will ever know where he is buried because that was his wish”, according to Austin.
In 2013 out of nowhere appeared a small plaque at ‘Kensal Green’ cemetery. The plinth read: “In Loving Memory of Farrokh Bulsara, 5 Sept. 1946 – 24 Nov. 1991. Pour Etre Toujours Pres De Toi Avec Tout Mon Amour – M.” Naturally a lot of people assumed the ‘M.’ stood for Mary. Mary Austin firmly denied that Freddie was burried at that cemetery. The plaque was removed immediatly and his final resting place remains a secret.