It was my birthday a few days’ ago on the 24th. It made me think of my 17th birthday, 25 years ago (yes that means you can work out my age !!).
My mother had always been a big fan of the pop group Queen. The day before we had heard that the lead singer Freddie Mercury was suffering from Aids, on the tv news. At that time, Aids was a death sentence and still quite a taboo subject.
The 24th brought the sad news that he had succumbed to the illness, that he had been fighting for years.
He left the world a wonderful legacy in his music, though other singers have stood at the front of the group since his death, noone has lived up to his performance level.
It is hard to believe it is 25 years since he died, it feels so recent, probably due to his music still being played on radio and tv.
There are so many classics, it is hard to choose a favourite. Bohemian Rhapsody has a place in the history of music, of course, and will always be one of the biggest ever sellers, song wise. We Are The Champions, along with it’s double A side, We Will Rock You, will also always stand up as instantly recognisable songs. Though the two songs which mean the most to me are Friends Will Be Friends and Who Wants To Live Forever.
The first song came into my life at a time when I was finding school difficult and had few friends, it gave me hope that one day, that special friend who would stand by me no matter what, would come into my life and these difficult days would be past.
The second song was from one of my favourite films ever, Highlander (though I will never, for the life of me understand the casting of a Frenchman to play a Scot and a Scotsman to play a Spanish man!). It also spoke to me when, a couple of years after it’s release, I had my first bereavement to deal with, as a teenager. It helped me cry out my emotions and learn to cope with the pain of losing a loved one.
I have always loved listening to music, of many different genres. I find solace in specific songs and almost see them as the companion to moments in my life. So many Queen songs have been part of those moments and memories.
It was a terribly sad day when Freddie died, but his death did bring discussion about Aids and HIV to the fore. His dying made people stop and think and take more care about their sexual health, and also made people talk about the taboo illness. People started to learn that sufferers of Aids were not going to infect others by simply using the same towel or sitting in the same room. Yes, silly beliefs like that were around in the early days and gay men were treated badly because of the Aids risk, and it being seen as a gay man’s problem, even as God’s revenge on them for their ‘sinful’ ways. Thank goodness for people eventually seeing sense and listening to the truth, instead of the scare stories.
I kind of imagine that Freddie would still be as flamboyant in whatever afterlife he has been taken to, looking down on everyone still enjoying his music, glass of champagne in hand and enjoying himself.
In the words of Highlander, ‘There can be only one…….Freddie’.