Tony Hadley, lead singer of Spandau Ballet said Freddie Mercury was his idol and little did he know that Freddie was one of his biggest fans. He had an opportunity to meet Freddie during one of Queen’s concerts in the UK at the Birmingham National Exhibition Center in 1984.

“I was dying to meet the band and they were all so friendly and polite. I was invited to an after party at the bands hotel. I sat right next to Freddie who offered me a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten. I sat there talking to him that night about the on-stage persona, and Freddie said, ‘Never apologize. The audience have come to see you, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit off one night. You’ve just got to front the whole thing out.’ I was only 23 or 24 singing in a band that was doing OK. He was rock royalty. He didn’t have to bother with someone like me. But he was so enthusiastic, so keen to input his knowledge and experience. He was the only one who ever did that, and I respected him for it.

Meeting someone who was an idol, someone whom I’d always respected as a musician and a singer was great. Being a singer too, it was a great thrill for me. It was a high point. Freddie was one of the biggest stars. He loved being a star and playing the star. I’ve learned from that. He offered quite a bit of advice to me, good advice.

I knew he was ill and I remember the last time I gave him a hug and he was…he was a lovely, lovely guy. Losing Freddie for me, it was the the end of an era. No one ever likes to see someone as young as Freddie dying. It’s tragic. But when someone you knew and respected and thought of as friend goes … The guy was such a talent and such a caring person. You read about so many shits in this business that when your idol turns out to be such a good egg. I just can’t think. It’s just a complete tragedy.”

The picture is Freddie Mercury and Tony Hadley performing ‘Jailhouse Rock’ at Mt Smart Stadium, 13 April 1985 by Shelley Watson