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on 21 March 2013
The book was very good insight to this remarkable man. It gave warts and all to his life and super talents.
His voice was epic his life was an emotional mess.
His betrayal by some of his friends was cruel.
A very remarkable showman.
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on 28 June 2012
Who was Freddie Mercury?

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!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 August 2016
I really didn't think that it would be possible to get bored by Freddie Mercury but at times, this book does manage just that. The writing at times is a little plodding and some of the information just doesn't seem relevant or flow very well. I don't know that I would call this definitive but not having read every single one I suppose I can't make a sweeping judgement. To me this is only an okay book, I did pick up some tidbits that I didn't know but even the photos I found on the meh side. It's a shame as I felt a lot more could have been written about someone who in life was so very entertaining. Maybe there are other books out there that are worth five stars.
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on 30 October 2011
It's hard to believe that Queen celebrates their 40th Anniversary this year, and even more significant is that it also marks the 20th Anniversary of the death of their lead singer. In `Freddie Mercury - The Definitive Biography', author Lesley-Ann Jones takes us on a fascinating journey through his life from Zanzibar in 1946 to his death in Montreux in 1991.
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!
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on 24 June 2017
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on 29 November 2016
Lesley Ann Jones basically waits for celebs to die, then releases a biography of commonly read, tabloid trash and claims to have been a friend. Her other subjects include Marc Bolan and more recently, David Bowie. Basically, nobody who could out her for the name dropping wannabe that she is.
Read if you must but don't expect anything new or factual.
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on 18 October 2011
The whole story and legacy of Queen and Freddie Mercury have moved on so far since Lesley-Ann Jones's original book in the mid-90s that there is plenty of scope for an update, but this book goes way beyond a mere update and is very timely what with the movie coming out next year.

The research is very impressive - how many rock writers would actually travel to somewhere like Zanzibar to ensure they nail the detail and give the full flavour of their subject's birthplace? And she makes a point of correcting many of the of the inaccuracies that have occurred and probably been repeated in other accounts There is no doubt that certain people in the story - the band members for instance - remain tight lipped to this day but Jones seeks out many of the key players in Mercury's private and professional life, so comes as close as anyone is going to in terms of telling the proclaimed 'definitive' story.

What is best about the book, however, is not so much the truly scary stuff about about AIDS setting in, nor even intriguing snippets such as Freddie's friendship with Michael Jackson - it's the atmosphere it evokes of the music industry in the 70s and 80s. For music fans, whether they are into Queen in a big way or not, the chapters about the band's seemingly eternal struggles to gain a record deal, the characters around the band and the lives they all led, are priceless.

Lesley-Ann Jones combines her journalistic skills and experience with her love of the music and comes up with a terrific read.
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on 7 May 2012
I must say I enjoyed reading this book but I believe it could have been a lot better. I was expecting more about Freddie as it was meant to be a biography about him. Yes, there was some detail about his life but it lacked information and so I would not class it as the definative biography, because as a Queen fan it left me quite disappointed.

There was good information about rock music during the 70s and 80s and how the band formed and their trouble making it big in the begininng. This of course was a big part of Freddie's life but it seemed to dominate too much of the reading and in parts I felt I wasn't reading about Freddie.

Another thing that bored me after a while was the writer often referancing dates and how Freddie would be dead not long after. Why? We all know he died of AIDS in 1991, we don't need constant referance to it. This book needed to celebrate his life, not constantly point out when he was going to die.
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on 1 October 2007
This book is an entertaining and mostly balanced biography of a great singer and entertainer.

I would describe myself as liking some of Queens material but not all of it. However I have always thought that their performance at Live Aid blew all the other bands off the stage and is one of the best live performances ever.

The book was interesting for me and I would imagine that almost anyone who likes some or all of Queens stuff would enjoy this.

The book seems at times to dwell unduly on the more colourful side of Freddie's life and sexual conquests in particular. The writer comes across as pretty disapproving of this, and at times the tone is a bit like the Daily Mail or some other moralising "voice of reason".
It seems that the wild antics were part of his character and that someone who shunned wild excess would have been unable to go out on stage and produce such over the top yet undeniably breathtaking performances.
This is my only criticism really and in most other ways the book is very balanced.

She interviews almost everyone of importance in Freddie's life and gives them a fair hearing in terms of getting their point across. It seems that Freddie was taken advantage of by a lot of freeloaders, but the author ignores them and gives much more weight to his close friends and (multiple) lovers and the result is an interesting read.
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on 17 January 2007
If you want to know the dirt about Freddie and his various liaisons then this is the book for you. if you're actually interested in what inspired him to write such marvellous music then you'll be disappointed. The author gives the impression that Freddie was Queen and Queen was Freddie, not so. Freddie was an important and integral part of the band but so were the others, the way that she dismisses John with such disdain is disgraceful, probably because he wouldn't talk to her, well done John. We all know that Freddie had his little peccadillos but I wanted something that would give an insight into his music and personallity not a run down of his sex life. This was a very disappointing read, I didn't even feel any emotion when I read of his death, she just left me cold. Queen's music has been a big part of my life it was always there as I was growing up, I've been a fan for over thirty years, this didn't do anything for me at all.
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