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Freddie Mercury once hired a limo to bring a starving Gary Numan a Big Mac in a Tokyo sushi restaurant

Freddie Mercury in Japan
(Image credit: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

In the wake of artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson and Fear Factory covering his songs, synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan has enjoyed a late career renaissance, not least when receiving an Ivor Novello Inspiration Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Numan recently released a new autobiography, (R)evolution: The Autobiography, and has been sharing stories from it on the promotional trail. One entertaining anecdote, delivered to supermarket chain Waitrose’s free magazine Weekend, concerns a memorable evening Numan shared in Tokyo with the members of Queen.

Finding himself at a loose end in the Japanese capital, Numan had bought a ticket to see Queen play, but his presence in the crowd, he recalls, “caused a bit of a fuss.”

“What I hadn‘t realised was that I’d become quite successful in Japan,” Numan says. “I’d only been big in Britain for a year or so… it never even occurred to me that it would be an issue here. In the end, the staff had to rescue me and take me backstage. I met the band and explained to them what had happened, and they took me under their wing.”

Post-gig, Queen invited Numan to join them for dinner at a high end sushi restaurant, which turned out to be rather too sophisticated for Numan’s palate, with the Londoner admitting to having “very plain tastes”.

“After a while,” Numan recalls, “Freddie Mercury came over and said, ‘Love, you’re not eating, what’s the problem?’ So I said, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m just blown away to be here. I’m a massive Queen fan.’ He asked me what I’d like to eat, and I told him, ‘McDonald’s… but don’t worry, I’ll get one afterwards’.”

“Anyway, 15 minutes later, this limo turns up outside, and the driver gets out with a McDonald’s bag! Freddie has a quiet word with the manager, bungs him a few yen, and there I am – having McDonald’s in a top-end Tokyo sushi restaurant with Queen! I was massively star-struck, but they were all such lovely, down-to-earth people.”

Numan went on to reveal that he’d actually met the band once before, as a 16-year-old fan hanging around the stage door of the Rainbow Theatre, in London’s Finsbury Park in the 1970s.

“Other bands would always rush past to their limos and ignore everybody, ” he says, “but Queen were different. They invited everybody up to their dressing room, chatted to everybody and signed everything. It was a lesson in how to treat those who support you – I’ve always tried to emulate that wherever possible.”

(R)evolution: The Autobiography by Gary Numan is out now, published by Constable.