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Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Freddie Mercury and Queen Paperback – 30 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc; First Trade Paper Edition edition (30 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306820714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306820717
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,971,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Blake has been writing about popular music and culture since 1989.

A former Assistant Editor of Q and regular contributor to MOJO and CLASSIC ROCK magazines, he is the author of PRETEND YOU'RE IN A WAR: THE WHO & THE SIXTIES (Aurum, 2014); IS THIS THE REAL LIFE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF QUEEN (Aurum, 2010) and PIGS MIGHT FLY: THE INSIDE STORY OF PINK FLOYD (Aurum, 2007 & 2013), published as COMFORTABLY NUMB (Da Capo, 2008) in the US.



Twitter @markblake3

Product Description


"Creative Loafing Blog," 2/24/11"Return to those thrilling days of rock 'n' roll yesteryear with Blake's engrossing chronicle of talent and excess. It's another one of those books that inhales you...Thought it's over 400 pages, it's the kind of book you'll rip through in a day. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read." "Onion," AV Club, 4/7/11"Mark Blake clearly knows the British-rock-supergroup terrain.", 4/12/11"If you're a Queen fan, don't hesitate to pick this one up...[and] if you have even a passing interest in the story you should give this a shot. You really won't be disappointed.""Houston"" Press," 4/15/11 "The most comprehensive bio to date about the over-the-top rockers...Blake's book effectively illuminates the band's story and music for both the casual fan and diehards." "Instinct," 5/1/11 ""Is This The Real Life? "uses interviews with the people who knew the band best to piece together a "Behind the Music-"style biography. It's extensive and detailed...It's a worthy read." "Under the Radar," Spring 2011"A happy medium between fact and anecdote. "Real Life "rounds out the band's history with plenty of ripe minutiae and lost details...[A] colorful account.""Northwest Indiana Times, "7/31/11 "Reveals complexities in the lives of guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon individually and amongst each other." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Blake is the author of Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd and a longtime contributor to Mojo. He lives in London with his wife and son.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By grimlyfiendish on 29 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Queen are of course one of the UK's biggest bands of all time, in fact the world's. During Freddie Mercury's tragically short life, they were never out of the public eye, yet for some reason their essence remains elusive. I think some of this was down to the band's innate unwillingness to reveal much of themselves, and there can't be many bands so famous yet so little understood. This is perhaps why previous books on Queen have failed to satisfy the fans or the general reader.

I think Mark Blake's book is a triumphant attempt to decode the DNA of Queen, as well as telling their story magnificently well. I disagree totally with another reviewer who claimed the book offered nothing new. Even for the most hardened Queen geek, Blake has unearthed a wealth of new material, especially about the band's early days, partly through the first-person testimony of people who've never been interviewed before. He shows how the disparate personalities in the band meshed to create the unique and eclectic musical melange of Queen. He also follows the story of Freddie's remarkable early life in India and Zanzibar, as he gradually transformed himself from Faroukh Bulsara into Freddie Mercury.

For hardened Queen fans these early chapters may prove the most revelatory, though the rest of the story, lucidly and grippingly told, will likely satisfy most readers throughout. Any biography of Queen runs the risk of being overshadowed by the personality of Freddie, but Blake does an admirable job of keeping all four members of the band firmly in the story, and crediting each fully for his contribution. Again, he is able to draw on his own personal interviews with Brian and Roger - more material original to this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Jekaterina Bragina on 30 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
A huge Queen fan, I realised recently that I don't own a decent biography of the band. Having browsed for reviews, I went for this one, as the feedback was quite positive. I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed. The reviewer who said it was just a straightforward recounting of who did what and when has summed it up best. I can't say it's particularly well-written. Often, you get a feeling the writer was thinking "now where do I put this piece of information about Roger Taylor's love of motor boat racing? Ah, let me just stick it at the end of this sentence, the beginning of which has nothing to do with this information." Somehow, it seems to me that it would have been better to have separate subchapters about the band's work and leisure/personal life, instead of piling it all up together in a sort of a mish-mash. But the worst thing about this book is that it is riddled with misprints and mistakes that are small, but annoying. Like the wrong month of Roger Taylor's birth that was already mentioned in a previous review. The title of the song In the Lap of the Gods becomes In the Lap of the Chords at one point. How on earth did that one happen? The birth year of Brian May's second daughter is also given incorrectly, which would have been not that important, but it actually screws up the timing in the book, as the name of the baby is mentioned in the 1987 Magic Years documentary (year given correctly in the book), but the birth year of the girl is given as 1988, which doesn't make sense for someone who's seen the documentary. Unlike another reviewer, the book did tell me some things I didn't know (although most of the information, despite reading only one book on the band, I have heard in interviews), but because of the mistakes I've noticed I feel reluctant to trust the information that is new to me. Overall, not very satisfying. I will give "As It Began" by Jacky Gunn and Jim Jenkins a try next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Magnus Rouden on 21 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
No doubt it's a good read.
Mark Blake has done a good job and the start from the successful Live Aid appearance that made Queen stole the show makes anyone interested in Queen to stay hooked.
This book can be the perfect start to celebrate Queens 40th Anniversary in February 2011. And a great Christmas read...
If it's an untold story that depends on what you have read before? I have read almost every biography and this has some new ways of seeing Queen and Freddies life as a super group.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dale on 26 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
OK, so I'm not a great Queen fan, but I wanted to know what made the band tick and this book didn't tell me.
It's a light easy read.
It's a list of who did what when.
It tells us who said what about whom.
But it doesn't get under the skin.
Whose idea was it to throw the lavish parties? Who thought it would be a good idea to have naked waiter/waitresses etc? Why?
Freddies lifestyle was dissolute and ultimately destroyed him - what did the rest of the band do to prevent the disaster occuring? Nothing apparently. Why?
The band was 'clean' in the early days, but Freddie and his entourage took Coke later - how did this affect relations in the band?
I suppose for me, the book describes events, but it does not bring them to life. It feels like a re-hash of old interviews and published fact, rather than an untold story.
Ultimately rather disappointing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr Fahrenheit on 23 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been looking forwards to this book for some time, having been a huge Queen fan since the late 70s and having read most books released about them. However after reading this over the last few days, Queen remain, along with Van Halen, one of the most entertaining bands in search of a good book. There is nothing really new in the book, and is much like a detailed list of events as they happened. I guess part of the problem with Queen is much of the story revolves around Freddie Mercury, who died almost 20 years ago and who was very private off stage and who didnt really give many interviews after Queen became a big group. Also a number of the people close to him have also since died, so digging up new angles on his life is difficult. In addition, the 2 people closest to him in the last few years of his life (Jim Hutton + Peter Freestone) have also published books, neither of them really giving the reader any insight ino Freddie Mercury the person, rather than the entertainer. There are a lot of the stories and quotes in this book which are just cut and pasted from previous books. There are no new interviews with the remaining members of Queen, so no first hand input into the creation of the albums or the tours, which would have added to story. Each album release is covered in a basic way, with little analysis of the individual songs. I guess we will have to wait for Brian, Roger or John (unlikely)to write their autobiographies in order to get the in depth story of the band. So in summary, the book tells you of the events, but not much else.
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