12 January 1985, Queen headlined ‘Rock in Rio’ festival and played to record breaking audiences as large as 470,000 on the first night!

During Queen’s beloved hit song ‘I Want To Break Free,’ Freddie wore a large pair of fake bosoms (he started the tradition during ‘The Works’ tour 1984.) When he appeared dressed as a woman, the audience was always roaring with delight.

This song became an anthem for impoverished nations, and was always well received when performed live between 1984 and 1986.

However, when the band appeared at the Rock In Rio Festival in January 1985, reports trickled back that this cross-dressing move wasn’t so well received: ‘Pop star Freddie Mercury received a royal pelting when he appeared onstage in Rio de Janeiro wearing women’s clothes, huge plastic falsies and a black wig,’

People magazine reported. ‘A near riot erupted when the crowd of 350,000 began tossing stones, beer cans and other missiles at him as he started to sing Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’. Why the violent reaction, especially when fans obviously knew they weren’t paying to see Lawrence Welk? Explains Maria Caetano, who worked as an interpreter at the concert: ‘The song is sacred in South America because we consider it a political message about the evils of dictatorships.’.’

Record Mirror reported: ‘There’s a spot of trouble when Freddie decides to dress up in his best Bet Lynch gear for ‘I Want To Break Free’. Some outraged Brazilians decide this just isn’t on and get very nasty. Instead of throwing beer cans at the stage in time honoured tradition, they decide that pebbles and bits of concrete are far more effective. Fred does a sprint to safety and it’s all forgotten quickly.’

The truth is that the audience did boo and react negatively, but nothing was flung at Freddie, as shown in the uncut video. Just to be safe, the following week Freddie opted to go flat-cheated.”

Reported by Georg Purvis ‘Queen – The Complete Works’

Freddie explained in his own words:

“Rio, in 1985, was wonderful. It was mind-boggling to be up there with all those people in the palm of your hand. During ‘Love Of My Life’ I stood there blinking away like mad and swallowing hard, with the same feeling that The Last Night Of The Proms gives me. They were a wonderful audience and I loved their display of emotion. They get over excited sometimes and there was a bit of trouble when a fight between some of the crowd and a cameraman broke out. It was during ‘I Want To Break Free’, (in the video for that song we had all ‘dragged up,’) I came on stage with false boobs under my vest, and a vacuum cleaner, to bring that image back, and they went a bit mad.

So At first I thought my boobs were too big for them. The trouble was that when I first tried them, in Brussels, at the start of the tour, some people who work for me said that at the back of the arena you really couldn’t see them – unless they were twice the size of Dolly Parton. So I had to get some bigger breasts. (Freddie always said ‘The bigger the better in everything

I don’t know why in Rio they got so excited about me dressing as a woman; there were lots of transvestites there – just go and look on any street corner and you’ll find them. I certainly didn’t go on dressed like that to provoke them, and I may have been stoned like the Queen of Sheba, but I wasn’t giving up my boobs for anyone! Still, it’s a good story, so what the fuck?” – Freddie Mercury

Pictured is Freddie during ‘I Want To Break Free’ in Brazil