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Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography Paperback – 1 Jan 1998
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No one has captured better than Lesley-Ann Jones the magical, enchanting dualism of Freddie Mercury. (The Times)
Lesley-Ann Jones asserts that Freddie Mercury's was a "big, extravagant, multifaceted life", and the rock journalist has certainly done a sterling job of documenting it here. (Daily Telegraph, Australia)
'A timely update coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Queen and the 20 years since their frontman's death'. (The Sun)
Exactly the sort of tribute Mercury himself would have wanted ... full of perceptive and moving insights. (Spectator)
Rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones is lucky enough to have known the man. She toured widely with Queen and formed lasting friendships with the band. It took a while for everyone to open up, but she eventually gained access to Freddie's colleagues and friends, and so we have this thoroughly researched portrait of the man behind the rock legend. (Brisbane Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The defintive biography of one of music's greatest legends. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
His voice was epic his life was an emotional mess.
His betrayal by some of his friends was cruel.
A very remarkable showman.
Showman or Frontman? Shy Guy or Great Pretender? In her book, Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography, Lesley-Ann Jones helps to peel away the layers of media nonsense and rumour to paint the picture of a man she met several times and watched perform live (most notably side of stage during THAT Live Aid Performance).
I took to the book as a casual Queen fan, growing up with the music as a boy and then a teenager, Freddie was long gone before I really got into collecting music seriously. But I remembered watching Live Aid and of course that barnstorming performance from Queen. My knowledge of Freddie himself and Queen's recording history was a little hazy based on red top newspaper headlines surrounding Mercury in later life and the odd documentary I had seen of the band play on TV. A mate at college had all the albums and subjected me to them in his car when he used to run a gang of us around. When music is forced on you, sadly, you don't always appreciate it and I honestly did switch off.
But, as you grow older, your musical tastes change and mature. You have the opportunity to delve into the musical archives of friends and relatives and the digital download has made it even easier to collect a back catalogue quicker.
Stood in the bookshop I thumbed through the hardback and found myself engrossed enough to want to buy it. Surely the best advert for any book?!
Jones plays a blinder for any casual Queen fan by starting the book off with Live Aid. Like Queen before her, she knows exactly the Greatest Hits to tick off and the first few pages draw you in to the world of Freddie, Queen, Wembley and Montreux so that when the "real" start of the journey to understand Mercury begins in Zanzibar you are fully prepared.
Lesley-Ann went to Zanzibar to research her subject's birthplace and understand where he came from and why possibly he may never have gone back. It is this attention to detail that is throughout the book. It is obvious that the author personally cares about Freddie and yet still paints an honest picture of the man with all his flaws and genius balanced. This is no rose tinted reflection of a bygone era of a Rock Showman. Nor is it a gossipy no holds barred delve into the more salacious areas of Freddie's life on and off stage.
The hardback edition has some reviews on amazon stating that this was written by a journalist who worked on the Daily Mail and that this is a regurgitated journalistic exercise pumped out to cash in on Freddie. This is both an insult to Jones and massively misses the point of what this book tells you. Lesley-Ann has indeed written for the Daily Mail amongst a number of other titles (what a crime!) but toured extensively with Queen and saw first hand a lot of what is reported in the book. Take a look at some of the photographs within the volume and you see not publicity shots of Freddie or Queen but more candid shots of the author with close friends and family of Freddie written about within the pages. She might be a journalist but that is just her "job". This book is written by someone who honestly was best placed to tell you what you want to know about Mercury the man.
If you are a huge Queen fan then this will be the perfect companion to the music and other books you have. A nice volume that easily covers everything you need to know. It is bang up to date taking in life post Freddie's passing with nods to We Will Rock You, Paul Rodgers and where Brian and Roger see Queen now.
I got hold of a paperback copy before reviewing this to double check there was nothing substantially new from the hardback I had read. But really, it was perfect in hardback...!
So, the casual Queen fan, after reading this book, has now gone out and bought the remastered cd's and wishes he had paid more attention in the car all those years ago! I gave my hardback to a friend with the "you have to read this" statement. Her response? "I like the way it is written, it fills my head like watching a documentary!"
Treat yourself....Add to Basket!
The early chapters in the book cover his childhood in Zanzibar, his resentment at being sent to school in India at the age of eight, and his early tastes for music, and how his life would change once he arrived in the UK in 1964.
What makes this book stand-out for other biographies is that Jones has certainly done her research (she was side-stage at Live Aid), and her determination to find a copy of Freddie's original birth certificate. She also travelled back to Africa and India and spoke to family and friends, people that knew Freddie first hand. There is still local resentment toward him, with one claiming "he gave up his family name.....and wasn't proud of Zanzibar", hence the lack of tributes, memorials or statues to him in his homeland.
Moving to England would change his life forever, as he dabbled with several bands before convincing Brian and Roger to do more original material. As he cleverly put it "If I was your singer, that's what I'd be doing". This would lead to the formation of Queen, and their first gig in 1971.
The fact that he didn't own a TV when they made their first Top of The Pops appearance, forcing him to watch it in a TV shop window in Oxford Street is just one of the many fascinating pieces here.
The great thing though out this book is that it's not a Queen book. While it's impossible to ignore their achievements, Jones cleverly throws in the odd statistic and chart achievement but keeps her focus on Mercury throughout. She doesn't shy away from Freddie's life off-stage either. We all know the showman who grabbed Live Aid by the balls, but do we know much about his lovers, his lifestyle, his 3-in-a-bed romps or his many excessive gay parties that included anything from Lesbian strippers to dwarfs, fire eaters, drag queens, mud wrestlers, snakes and hookers?
Then of course there's the music, which is what he lived for. His hero Montserrat Caballe, the duets with Michael Jackson and Bowie, what the intro to `One Vision' really is when played in reverse, his drinken on stage antics with Tony Hadley, his favourite composition, and the many meanings to Bohemian Rhapsody, the song he is most proud of.
There really is so much to learn here; their disappointment at not being asked to sing on the Band Aid record, Bowie's refusal to originally release `Under Pressure', John Deacon's depression after his death, and a fan's death at Knebworth that finally ended their live performances.
With the Sasha Baron Cohen movie of Freddie's life due to hit cinemas in 2012, Freddie Mercury's name is still on everyone's lips, 20 years after his death and I'm sure he's still looking down on everyone, and having one hell of a party in Heaven. I'm sure if he had read this book he'd be very proud of the masterful job Lesley-Ann Jones has delivered in his absence. Ultimate Magic!
Read if you must but don't expect anything new or factual.
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