Had Freddie been around during the first golden age of Hollywood, or the dawning of the rock and roll era, or had he blossomed during the psychedelic sixties, you get the feeling Freddie Mercury would have applied himself to the task in hand with ambition, wit and style, and would have made it big.

That’s simply the way he was; he thought, acted, lived BIG. He knew, too, how to maintain a sense of mystery, and a sense of privacy. He knew how much to give his fans, and how much to hold back for himself and his intimate circle. He was a weaver of spells, a creator of personas, masks, mythologies, a fantasist. He was someone who literally willed his fantasies, onstage and off, to come true.

To this end, his life was lived in the glare of the spotlight and the flash gun, but neither stole his soul, nor his dignity. He remained a showman, an illusionist, and a chameleon right to the end; both a diva who played to the gallery right up to his final curtain call, and an intensely private individual who did it his way. As elusive and mercurial as his adopted name, Freddie Mercury was a one-off, and the pop world is a less glamourous, less outrageous place without him. Of one thing we can be certain: we will not see anyone like him again.

Sean O’Hagan

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