I was in a pretty crappy mood yesterday. It may have been my Thanksgiving carb hangover or the anticipation of my mediocre performances at CapCity last night, but I’m more inclined to blame Freddie Mercury’s death.
Freddie died on November 24, 1991. I was 26 and until Diana went and died in 1997, it was my defining ‘where were you when …’ moment. I woke up to the news and burst into tears. My boyfriend made me a cup of tea which was sweet of him considering it was my turn. I thought about calling in sick but decided to be martyrish and took some comfort from the sympathetic looks and the numerous phone calls from friends checking in on me. I was known for being a bit of a Queen fan.
I joined the Queen Fan Club when I was 11 and still have every magazine, calendar, tour programme, shirt and sew-on-patch they offered. I didn’t see them play live till I was 16 and able to afford to buy my own ticket and train fare. My mother didn’t approve of Queen, because according to her they were all homosexuals. Along with the Village People, Gary Numan and, interestingly, the cast of Grease. At 14, I knew bugger all about sex, but could proudly counter any ‘Freddie’s gay’ accusation with the line ‘…no, he isn’t, he’s bisexual’. In my mind it was ok to be gay so long as you still liked vagina. No-one ever questioned me on it. Maybe if he’d died back then I’d have told people he didn’t just died of aids, he also had herpes.
I’ve kept all the newspapers from the day he died and from his funeral. It’s probably similar to the way people kept the newspapers announcing the end of the war in Europe, but with slightly less historical impact. Although, I did just read that Queen’s Greatest Hits is the best selling album of all time. So maybe I should rethink that. I’ve also got all the tribute magazines that were rushed out to capitalise on his death and a t-shirt with a reprint of the front page of the Sun newspaper announcing his death. Not sure where this came from, but it’s never struck me as something I’d want to wear out and about.
I let my membership lapse after Freddie died but the fan club is still going strong. Good for them, but it just doesn’t seem quite right to me. I’ve never really got over going to see the appallingly bad Queen musical ‘We Will Rock You’ in London a few years ago and although I tried to muster enthusiasm for seeing the Queen plus Paul Rodgers tour last year, I didn’t make it.
The other big Queen celebration this year was Freddie’s 60th birthday in September. Why do we celebrate supposed ‘milestone’ birthdays for people who are dead. It doesn’t matter how famous they were, they’re still dead. All it does is remind us of how old we’ve gotten – I’m only a few years away from the age Freddie was when he died. I’d prefer to remember him when he was 19 years older than me and I didn’t have to worry about pissing away my life.
I’m getting a bit maudlin, I should stop this and start thinking about tonight’s shows. Last night’s were ok, but as the opening act I felt it took me too long to loosen up the audience. Finding that balance between doing the easy ‘crowd pleasing’ material and the real stuff that I love talking about, is still difficult. Actually it’s not difficult, I just have to make the real stuff more funny, but I prefer to create the internal artistic struggle. Perhaps I need to channel a bit of Freddie onstage. Take that mic stand to places it’s never been before, while leading the audience in some extended musical scales and closing with a choreographed clap-along to Radio Ga-Ga.
Follow that, Jimmie Roulette.