Somebody To Love: The Life, Death And Legacy Of Freddie Mercury review

The same questions asked, and nothing new revealed

Cover art for Somebody To Love: The Life, Death And Legacy Of Freddie Mercury

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Freddie Mercury was gay, although he had a girlfriend throughout his life. He was flamboyant, except when he was shy. He was prone to wild statements and exaggeration, but he never told the others in Queen he was gay or had Aids until they’d already guessed. It’s difficult to make much of a character assessment based on such apparent contradictions. But that doesn’t stop authors Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne trying.

They might have done better to analyse why the arts world in general, and the music industry in particular, attracts proportionally more gay people than, say, the manufacturing industry. They also spend a lot of time wondering when and how Mercury caught Aids (and the possibilities are limitless) when a more interesting question might be how Mercury’s pal Elton John and John Reid (who managed them both) managed to avoid getting it. Instead they pore over Mercury’s life, unearthing the occasional revelation but nothing to alter the perception that he was a mystery wrapped (mostly deliberately) in an enigma. And an artistic genius.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.