5 September 1985 – Freddie’s Legendary ‘Black and White Drag Ball’ at Old Mrs Henderson’s Club in Munich.
He celebrated his 39th birthday with a bang!
It all started with a beyond flamboyant throw-down in Munich, Germany where Freddie Mercury and a few hundred of his famous friends gathered together for Mercury’s “black and white” themed 39th birthday at the Henderson club. The Henderson was also used by Mercury to shoot the video for his 1985 solo single “Living on My Own” which includes footage shot at Freddie’s extravagant birthday shebang. Two months prior, Queen and Mercury set the world on fire with their set at Live Aid forever setting the rock and roll bar for greatness at a level so high it will likely forever stand as the single greatest live performance by a rock band ever.
Freddie spared no expense and he flew out a few hundred guests and fellow celebrities, paying for flights and rooms at the Hilton hotel. When Freddie sent out the invitations, he requested attendees dress in drag and only in black and white.
Freddie, of course, was the only person who did not adhere to the strict dress code. He came as himself, in his iconic Harlequin catsuit and Adidas trainers, paired with a flashy Russian Imperial jacket designed by the Emanuels.
Yes, the same folks who had designed Princess Diana’s wedding dress.
As unhinged as Mercury’s behavior could be behind-the-scenes there isn’t much evidence to cite his zealous pursuit of good times altering his ability to slay with his four-octave vocal range and commanding stage presence. To say nothing of the stone cold fact, Mercury knew how to party—something I’m sure you’ll be in agreement with after checking out the photos of Freddie partying like a pro. It was the party to end all parties.
The following excerpt is from Richard Young:
“Well I just found Freddie very generous, very kind and very lovely. He was a one-off rock icon — irreplaceable! He was the king of parties! His parties were always wild, full of laughter and unique.”
“His confidence was electric. His energy was inspiring, and he was one of the most professional people I’ve ever worked with.”
“When you were in Freddie’s inner circle you would always be given a nickname, mine was “Muriel” — after Muriel Young. This was after the TV presenter from the fifties, and Freddie would always say, ‘Come on Muriel!’ I loved it. I felt I was part of his family.”
Richard on Freddie’s famous 39th Drag Ball Birthday Party:
“It was one of the most amazing moments that happened with Freddie. He rang me around 1985. He said, “Richard, I want you to come to Munich; I want you to photograph my birthday party.” I said, “No problem, Freddie!” He said, “Everyone’s going to be in drag.” I said, “No problem!”
And then he said it again: “Everybody.” Which included me. My wife had to find me a dress, it was a size 10, which was quite a nice feeling. I went off to Munich, we all got made up, and had a wild party that went through the whole night.”
Richard Young – Hero Magazine
One of Queen and Freddie’s official photographer since 1978