We don’t know the exact moment in which Freddie Mercury found out he carried the HIV virus. It could have been a little after the apotheosic A Kind Of Magic tour, in which we find Freddie in his best shape, form and relationship with the audience; specially the one at Wembley Stadium on July 12, 1986. After that tour, and after recording the Miracle album, Mercury announced that Queen doesn’t have any plans to go around the world promoting it.
The three records mentioned here, specially The Miracle, are way underestimated by the critics who tought Queen was repeating themselves each three years playing hymns for sold out stadiums, listening and admiring a singer who was a real showman, deeply in love with fame –not fortune- and the love of his audience, that invisible being that understood his troubles and tribulations everytime he hit the stage.
A Kind Of Magic was, besides yet another Queen record in the eighties, the second effort of recovery after that bad joke called Hot Space. It came also with a fantastic movie, Russel Mulcahy’s Highlander, and some songs from the album were used in the film, like “Don’t Lose Your Head” and “One Year Of Love.” The movie tells the story of a Scotsman who belongs to an immortal warrior race that’s been fighting between themselves since Middle Age, and has to choose between immortality and a limited-time life of love with his beloved woman. In the case of Mercury there was no room for choice, but a quick rush to grandeur with this album and the spectacular tour of ’86, ending on August 9 at Knebworth Park in London, Queen’s last performace as a quartet.
The Miracle tunes, had being played live, would have delighted the masses. “I Want It All” is so strong we can find it on Digital TV commercials. It has a certain fatidic touch probably because Mercury already knew by that time he was sick and also Brian May was divorcing his second wife, British actress Anita Dobson. The irony of this record is that, no matter how much pain and sorrow they could sing of, people loved them unconditionally, posting them on the top of the charts. Same curse Cobain suffered until his suicide, but in the case of Queen, they suffered it with quiet desperation, the English way.
Innuendo, released on February 1991, has so many hidden messages about the Grim Reaper that by May rumours were flying on Mercury’s counted days. The first single, “Innuendo,” was an analysis on time spent in fame and a chant to keep fighting until the end for life itself. November arrived, Mercury announced he was an HIV carrier and he was dying and two days later he died, entering the pantheon of Rock and Roll Glory. As simple as that, he kept the secret for a considerable amount of time and his fatalism and anger went beyond his own tragedy: “This is just the tip of the Iceberg,” said Freddie two days before he died. Elton John and David Bowie might have been sweating cold. The keys for the announcement of his premature departure can be found in “Headlong” and “I’m Going Slightly Mad,” where the unavoidability of sudden death is present in almost all verses. For “The Show Must go On,” Freddie regrets being close to death, but he takes it holding his head high, ready to die with the make-up on, entertaining his audience. The fans couldn’t have been in more pain on the next day of his departure, but Freddie left this world leaving a very, very strong musical legacy, full of personality and syle.
Los tres discos mencionados aquí, especialmente The Miracle, están muy subestimados por la crítica quienes consideraban que Queen se repetía a sí misma cada tres años tocando himnos para estadios en donde no cabía un alfiler de llenos que estaban, escuchando y admirando a un verdadero showman quien estaba enamorado perdidamente de la fama -no de la fortuna- y del cariño de su público, aquel ente invisible que entendía sus tribulaciones cada vez que salía al escenario.