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“I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend” – Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury broke down the barrier between the artist and the audience. Not just a singer or an artist, Freddie Mercury was a performer. He adored his audience as much as they idolised him. But, by 1985 Queen his band had become public enemy number one. Unlike what is documented in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, Queen had not broken up. The truth was, the band took the controversial move to play Sun City in South Africa in October 1984. At that time both the United Nations had asked for a boycott from the entertainment industry, and the British Musicians Union had banned any of it’s members from playing there. All this centred on the movement against apartheid, which was systemic in South Aftrica between the 1940’s until 1994. Queen’s decision to play the country at this time almost derailed their career. When the band eventually came off The Works 48-date-tour in May 1985, things were at a low, again unlike the movies representation, and they needed something to win back the public.
Looking at rock music in general, a wider picture of the eighties begins to build. By 1985, the seventies giants were finding it difficult to crossover to this new decade and new audience. Zeppelin were no more, inhouse fighting in both The Who and The Stones meant any creativity was hampered. Queen also found themselves slightly in limbo also, the 1982 album Hot Space was neither accepted by critics or fans. The number one collaboration from the previous year with David Bowie “Under Pressure” was included on the album but still couldn’t save it. The disco-funk sound was a little too far out for the fans. The 1984 release The Works faired better, with a return to a rock sound also a more effective use of synthesisers. The high charting “Radio Ga Ga” may not have been similar to the work ten years previous but broke them all the same to a new audience.
Everyone remembers the performance of “Radio Ga Ga”, Freddie centre stage, the crowd shadowing his clapping, a sea of hands in sync. His marching round the stage with the sawed off microphone stand, commanding an army, breathing fumes of pure energy from his soul. The relentless hunger of the band, finding their way back to the top of their game.
As sources state, Mercury was already aware he was in the grips of a disease which would end his life a short six years later. Then again, the year after Queen would storm Wembley again, have a number one album in – A Kind Of Magic and reach the heights not seen since the seventies. On the 9th of August, 1986, Queen played their final concert at Knebworth, they had rebuilt what had lay in ruin.
The Full Show
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