Friday, 5 September 2014

FREDDIE MERCURY DIDN'T WANT TO LIVE FOREVER ...



He would have been sixty-eight today. I can never imagine him as an old codger. He was in his fortieth year when Roger Tavener from the Express and I hung out with him for a night in the White Horse in Montreux. After years spent following Queen around the world, we got closer that night than we had ever done. It was Freddie's bar, his territory. He gave us a different guy that night, talking candidly about the price of fame.
'It's the thing that keeps me awake at night,' he admitted, cadging Marlboro Reds off Tavener.
'I've created a monster,' he went on. 'The monster is me. I can't blame anybody else, it's what I've always wanted. Success, fame, money, sex, drugs - whatever you want, I can have it. But now I'm beginning to see that as much as I created it, I want to escape from it. I can't control it as much as it controls me.'
He said much more.The pub closed. He asked us to wander down to the lake with him.
'Just throw my remains in there when I go,' he said. He repeated this at least twice.

Tavener and I had a world exclusive. We had proof, there were two of us. What did we do with it? We committed a sackable offence. We agreed, in what may well have turned out to be a case of double jeopardy, but didn't, to refrain from selling Freddie's confidence for a cheap page lead.

Freddie and his gang were great people. It had been a blast of a night. He'd opened up to two relative strangers, and had exposed his soul. He knew we were journalists, he must have assumed we'd stitch him up. Everyone did. Perhaps he even wanted us to, to prove a point: that reporters are invariably bad news.

Maybe we didn't get it at the time, but his behaviour that night later made sense. He must have known that he didn't have long left. He was living as if there were no tomorrow. He wasn't far wrong.

Down the path, away from the snowy mountains and into our hotel we fell. Neither of us spoke. Nothing left to say. Tavener smoked his last fag.

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