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The Wild Freddie Mercury Stories You Won't See in Bohemian Rhapsody

The Wild Freddie Mercury Stories You Won't See in Bohemian Rhapsody Freddie Mercury boarding a train from Leiden to Amsterdam in 1982. C...

The Wild Freddie Mercury Stories You Won't See in Bohemian Rhapsody

freddie mercury
Freddie Mercury boarding a train from Leiden to Amsterdam in 1982.

Clubbing with Princess Diana. Pissing off Sid Vicious. Hitching a ride on Darth Vader’s shoulders. All are just a few of the wild, wonderful things Freddie Mercury did during his thunde rclap of a life. Alas, you won’t see any of those aforementioned stories featured in Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic starring Rami Malek as the charismatic rock frontman. The film focuses on the broader strokes of the singer’s life, skipping over some of the more colorful bits that have been left to legend. But for those who want to dig a little deeper, here’s a brief guide to some of the best Freddie Mercury stories around.

Queen, Meet the Princess

Among the most legendary Mercury stories is the one about the time he went clubbing with Princess Diana. It all started when the two of them, accompanied by comedian pal Kenny Everett and actress Cleo Rocos, were han ging out one day, drinking champagne and watching Golden Girls reruns, according to Rocos’s book The Power of Positive Drinking. Mercury, Everett, and Rocos had plans to go out later that night and Diana insisted on joining; she was “in full mischief mode,” the actress notes. Though they tried to convince her otherwise, mentioning the headlines such an outing could garner, Diana wouldn’t hear of it, and neither would Mercury. “Go on, let the girl have some fun,” he told Rocos and Everett. So, they dragged her up, dressing her in an army jacket, a cap, and sunglasses and then headed out to Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a gay bar in South London.

“When we walked in . . . we felt she was obviously Princess Diana and would be discovered at any minute,” Rocos recalled. “But people just seemed to blank her. She sort of disappeared. But she loved it.”

It was Mercury, Rocos notes, who drew most of the attention from the crowd, which helped pull eye balls away from the mysterious man who looked an awful lot like Princess Di . . .

Mocking Sid Vicious

Freddie Mercury wasn’t notorious for feuding with other artists, but he did make an exception for Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. It was 1977, and Queen and the Sex Pistols, the burgeoning faces of punk rock, were all under one roof at Wessex Sound Studios in North London. Queen was working on News of the World, while the Pistols were working on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Draw whatever symbolism you like about two bands on opposing ends of a shifting genre working under the same roof, but this much was simple: Vicious wasn’t a fan.

Per an old interview with Brian May, Vicious made the first remark. “You’re Freddie Mercury, aren’t you? You’re bringing ballet to the masses,” he sneered, according to May; Vicious was referring to a previous quote Mercury had given in the press. Mercury responded with a cutting little jab of his own: “I called him Simon Ferocious or something, and he didn’t like it at all,” the singer said in an 80s-era interview. “I said, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’”

He continued, mocking the scratches on Vicious’s body. “He hated the fact that I could even speak like that,” Mercury said. “I think we survived that test.”

Llama Say Llama Sa Llama Coo Sa

In 1983, Mercury and Michael Jackson, hot off the release of Thriller, were plotting to record an album of duets. It was a perfect idea, this potential union of Queen and the nascent King of Pop. Three tracks had already been written and demoed, but the studio sessions ultimately faltered. Why? Because Jac kson brought his llama to the studio. Mercury was apparently not into it!

According to Mercury’s former manager, Jim Beach, the rocker called him and asked, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.”

However, Jackson had his complaints, too. The pop star wasn’t fond of the singer’s alleged cocaine habit and they eventually had a falling out over Mercury’s use of the drug in Jackson’s living room.

The singer’s apparent drug use has since become part of his lore. Elton John, who’s spoken candidly about his own drug use and addiction, once said this of the singer: “Freddie Mercury could out-party me, which is saying something. We’d be up for nights, sitting there at 11 in the morning, still flying high.”

Star Wars?

In the 1978 song “Bicycle Race,” Mercury dismisses the dominant movies of the day, singing: “Jaws was never my scene / And I don’t like Star Wars.” It’s a pretty straightforward lyric, but it turns out that Mercury didn‘t really harbor that much ill will toward George Lucas’s space opera. During shows in 1979 and 1980, Mercury added a silly stunt to Queen’s live shows to prove it, rolling up onstage on the shoulders of a man dressed in a Darth Vader costume (though sometimes it was a Superman costume). Sometimes he’d do it wearing next to nothing, save for a teeny-tiny pair of black shorts.

Photographer Tom Callins captured the now-iconic shot of Mercury on August 10, 1980, at Houston’s Summit Center. Mercury, wearing a Flash T-shirt, sits on Vader’s shoulders and holds his fist in the air. At that show, he pulled the stunt during the band’s encore, which began with “We Will Rock You”

“Everybody just thought it was so funny,” Callins said in a 2015 interview. “So Freddie. It was so over-the-top.”

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