Freddie Mercury (real name Farrokh Bulsara) once said that when the audience went to a Queen show, "It is not a concert you are seeing, it is a fashion show." He was well aware that some of the outfits were over the top, but he hoped that the humor was not lost on the audience. The bottom line is that Mercury never tried to put on some fake kind of image; he was always being himself.
Freddie Mercury's fashion style constantly changed over the years - from glittery jumpsuits and ballet shoes, to jeans and sneakers, to short skirts and high-heeled boots. Whether in a stage costume or an everyday outfit, Mercury consistently surprised people with his look. It's just one of those awesome Freddie Mercury facts: Many of the performer's stage looks, such as his bright yellow military jacket, are considered an indelible part of his legacy.
Nearly 30 years after his passing, Mercury is still remembered not only for Queen's music, his impressive vocal range, and his huge stage presence, but also for his clothes. Here are some of the secrets behind Freddie Mercury's iconic outfits.
- Photo: Suzie Gibbons/Redferns Collection / Getty Images
The Yellow Military Jacket Was Inspired By Spanish Opera
Sadly, Queen's Magic Tour in 1986 was Mercury's last. It was during this tour that he debuted his yellow jacket, one of three cropped military coats designed for him by Diana Moseley.
The coat had gold buckles, eyelets, and trim, and was reportedly inspired by the costumes found in some Spanish operas. Mercury often paired the jacket with a pair of white trousers that had a red stripe down either leg. The color scheme may have been inspired by the Spanish flag, although yellow was reportedly also one of the singer's favorite colors.
In 2004, the jacket and pants were sold at auction for just over $34,000.
The ‘I Want to Break Free’ Outfit Was A Spoof On The Soap Opera 'Coronation Street'
"I Want to Break Free," which appears on Queen's 1984 album The Works, was written by the band's bass player, John Deacon. The band filmed a music video for the song in May 1984 that parodies the British soap opera Coronation Street.
In the video, the four band members dress as female characters from the show, with Mercury pushing a vacuum cleaner while wearing a sleeveless top, short black skirt, and long pink earrings. In 2011, Brian May told Q magazine that the idea for the music video came from Roger Taylor's then-girlfriend.
The soap opera spoof and cross-dressing drew a mixed reaction. In some countries, the music video was taken as a joke or seen as a message to fight oppression. In the United States, it was banned from MTV. And when the band appeared at the Rock in Rio Festival in January 1985, People magazine reported that some in the huge crowd started throwing beer cans and stones at Mercury when he performed "I Want to Break Free" in a dress, wig, and bra.
However, it seems that report was exaggerated. Uncut video footage of the concert shows that, although people in the audience did react negatively, nothing was actually thrown at the singer.
To be safe, Mercury decided to not wear the bra when he performed the song in concert the week after the festival.
Mercury Attempted To Emulate A More Masculine Look After 1979
When Queen went on tour in 1979, Mercury replaced his sequined jumpsuits with a stage costume that consisted of leather trousers, a jacket, a biker's cap, and a heavy chain necklace. He also cut his hair short. It was Mercury's twist on an ultra-masculine look, originally called the "Castro clone," which originated in San Francisco's Castro District and then spread to other gay communities across the United States. Mercury later grew a thick mustache similar to the one sported by Glenn Hughes, the "biker" member of the Village People, who was one of the first artists to adopt the "Castro clone" look.
The mustache sparked protests from fans, who inundated the band's office with razors. Roger Taylor commented that Mercury got more press from growing a mustache than he would have if he walked down London's Oxford Street in the buff.
During the Game Tour, which ran from June 1980 to November 1981, Mercury asked the crowds what they thought of his new look, and would grin when he received a mix of cheers, boos, and catcalls. But, as he told the audiences, he didn't really care what they, or anyone else, thought.
The ‘Mercury Suit’ Was Designed By Roadie Pete Edmunds’s Wife, Wendy
In the early 1970s, Queen played a gig at the Imperial College in London where Mercury debuted a tight one-piece black costume with little wings at the wrists and ankles. Years later, Roger Taylor remembered that, when he saw this outfit, his first thought was, "Oh, you brave, brave boy."
The outfit, which was dubbed the "Mercury suit," was designed by the wife of roadie Pete Edmunds.