All around great person Freddie Mercury is known for his faultlessly sublime voice, his incredible vocal range, and the electrifying vitality of his music and stage presence. But he was far more than the sum of his flamboyant parts. There are hundreds of heartwarming Freddie Mercury stories, and there exists an equal number of tales that pay tribute to the Queen frontman's fabulously eccentric sense of humor and indefatigable work ethic.
Though most of the facts of Mercury's (public) life are widely known, there are still some anecdotes that are more obscure than others, so read on for some life-affirming trivia about one of glam rock's most irreplaceable and cherished badasses.
He Once Dressed Princess Diana In Drag To Smuggle Her Into A Nightclub
Mercury's flamboyance and great sense of humor are well documented, but one of his lesser-known antics involves the time he took Princess Diana out for a disguised night on the town. According to comedian Cleo Roccos, she, Mercury, the Princess, and a couple of other friends were hanging out one night and eventually decided to mosey on down to a "notorious" gay bar. Diana wanted to go, but didn't feel up to being recognized and mobbed by photogs. So the always-resourceful Mercury improvised and dressed her up in drag. All decked out, she looked like a "rather eccentrically dressed gay male model," and she and Freddie spent the evening "giggling like naughty schoolchildren."
He Adored His Cats & Called Them While He Was On Tour
Most great artists love cats, and Mercury was no exception. According to reports, he adored his felines so much that he would call home to London to "talk" to them when he was on tour. His friend Mary Austin would "hold the cats up to the phone so they could listen to him speak." He had as many as 10 felines at one time, and even commissioned artists to paint portraits of his brood. His adoration of his cats also frequently made its way into his music - his album Mr. Bad Guy was dedicated to one of his felines, as well as to "all the cat lovers across the universe."
He Sang On Darth Vader's Shoulders To Promote "Star Wars"
Despite that quirky lyric about not liking Star Wars in "Bicycle Race," Mercury actually thought enough of the film to endorse it by singing while perched on the shoulders of Darth Vader. (Or a roadie dressed as Vader, anyway). In 1980, right around the time of The Empire Strikes Back, photographer Tom Callins snapped a shot of Mercury and the Dark Lord of the Sith hamming it up during an encore performance of "We Will Rock You." "It was pandemonium," Callins remembered years later. "Everybody just thought it was so funny, so Freddie. It was so over-the-top.”
He Used A Piano As A Headboard Just In Case A Song Came To Him In The Dead of Night
When it came to seizing on inspiration when he could get it, Mercury didn't take any chances. He was so afraid of losing songs and melodies that he had a piano installed as a headboard and famously used it to lay down tunes that would come to him in the middle of the night. He was also double jointed, so he'd simply reach around and start playing the rifts backwards. Bohemian Rhapsody is said to have been originally conceived this way, though Mercury apparently hated to play the song live because he considered himself a mediocre pianist (for some reason).