Freddie Mercury gave many interviews over his lifetime. He loved to tease and outrage. Asked about serious personal issues, he usually sounded flippant and dismissive, as if he really didn’t care. You can almost hear the drawled ‘darling’ at the end of another comment about his fame and fortune, sexuality or love life. But there was always truth at the heart of everything he said.
Freddie loved the finer things in life and playfully adopted airs and graces. But then, he did have a privileged upbringing in Zanzibar before he had to learn to toughen up.
He said: “I was a very insecure young boy, probably because I was a bit sheltered.
“My uncle had a villa in Dar-Es-Salam, only yards from the sea, and in the morning I would be woken by the servant. Clutching an orange juice, I’d literally step out on to the beach… I love being pampered.”
That all ended when he was sent away to boarding school at seven.
Freddie said; “Of course there were feelings of being sent away from my parents and my sister who I missed very much – feelings of loneliness, feelings of being rejected – but you had to do what you were told so the sensible thing was to make the most of it.
“I was put into an environment where I had to fend for myself, so I got a good grasp of how to be responsible at an early age and I think that’s what made me such a fiend.
“All the things they say about boarding schools are more or less true, about the bullying… One thing board school teaches you is how to be independent and not rely on anyone else.”
So much of Freddie’s character, from the love of luxuries to his complicated relationship with love and trust later in life, was formed in these early years.
As for being a “fiend” you can hear his delight he describes outraging his parents when his music career took off with Queen.
Freddie said; “My parents were outraged when I told them what I was up to.
“I used to go home periodically and turn up in these outrageous clothes and with my fingernails painted black and at that time my mother used to freak out. They used to say, ‘My God! Don’t let the neighbours see you. Come in here quick. Use the back door.’
“But now they see we’re making money, they seem quite happy about it.”
ALL QUOTES FROM NEW BOOK: Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words (£9.99) available from Amazon