Sunday, 9 August 2015

QUEEN THE FINAL WAS A KIND OF MAGIC

Queen. The Final. Knebworth Park, 9th August 1986. I blinked. 
'A Kind of Magic', Queen's fourteenth album and the 'Highlander' soundtrack, was released at the end of May 1986 to mark the start of their European tour. As expected, it soared to Number One. At dawn on Wednesday 4th June, thirteen gigantic trucks of equipment rumbled out of London to begin an odyssey across eleven countries. Queen performed twenty six concerts for a million fans in twenty cities, including Stockholm, Paris, Munich, Barcelona and Budapest. Each city was chosen for personal reasons by the band. 
On 9th August, they performed an open-air gig to more than 120,000 fans in the grounds of Knebworth Park, Stevenage. The stately home gave Queen the biggest-ever UK audience of their career. We celebrated into the night. The only person missing from the festivities was Freddie. He retreated discreetly at the end of the show, arm in arm with his boyfriend Jim Hutton and his PA, Peter Freestone. He had always hated record company dos. He had never liked hanging around making small talk with label employees. No offence.
In the helicopter conveying him back to Battersea heliport that night, Freddie was informed of the fatal stabbing of a fan during the show. The crowd had proved impossible for paramedics to penetrate. Freddie was beside himself. He was still subdued the next morning, as friends began arriving at his home, Garden Lodge, for Sunday lunch. There was terrific coverage about the concert in all the papers, sure, which did cheer him up a bit. But that fan's death preoccupied him for the rest of his life. No one knew it at the time, and there were other, unbearable reasons. But Freddie would never again perform live with Queen.


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