By Lesley-Ann Jones
I’ve always dug the music of Queen, but to be honest I’ve never known much about the band other than their names. Of course Freddie Mercury is the name that EVERYONE knows, and his life is the de facto history of Queen, but I was still a young tyke when he died. So who was he? That seems to be a question that everyone asks, as Freddie (I just can’t call him “Mercury”) was a contradiction of private and ostentatious. Jones heroically attempts to thoroughly answer this question.
After setting down her credentials as one of the “old guard” of rock reporters and someone who knew Freddie personally, Jones provides valuable cultural and personal insight into the music scene that Freddie operated in. It’s clear early on that she’s enamored with him, as many people were—even the people who dislike Freddie credit him with a uniquely magnetic personality.
In a thoroughly-researched work, Jones runs from one primary source to another, absorbing as much as others are willing to give about their time with Freddie and the impact he made on them and the world. She perhaps spends a bit too much time on his sex life, with the topic seemingly coming up with every person no matter how irrelevant it is.
As I said, Freddie’s life is the de facto history of Queen, so the book really serves two purposes. The wealth of research shows on every page, and despite (or because of?) her obvious love Jones reports the good along with the bad. She wants to really know Freddie, and she wants us to know him too. The end result is probably the most complete picture of a fascinating man as we’re ever going to see.
Who was he? It’s simple: he was Freddie Mercury.