All About Mary Austin, The Love Of Freddie Mercury's Life
Though Mary Austin and Freddie Mercury did not have a traditional relationship, Mercury considered Austin the love of his life. He wrote one of Queen's immortal hits about her, and she was an essential part of the band's entourage. Austin remained by his side until he passed, and he left her a large piece of his fortune.
Considering the history of Freddie Mercury's relationships, both platonic and romantic, the dynamic singer valued the people in his life beyond simple pleasantries. His connection to Austin transcended the ups and downs of their personal and professional relationship. Austin's story and how she inspired the Queen frontman paints the picture of a friendship that can and did survive against all the odds.
Mary Austin is more connected to the story of Queen and Freddie Mercury than you might realize.
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Mercury Considered Austin His Common-Law Wife
Mercury and Austin spent years transitioning from lovers to fiancés to best friends; the Queen frontman ultimately considered her his common-law wife, stating that what they had was nothing less than a marriage. He said they "believed in each other and that's enough for me. I couldn't fall in love with a man the same way as I did with Mary."
Years after his passing, Austin told OK! Magazine about her relationship with Mercury:
I felt we'd had a marriage. We'd lived our vows. We'd done it for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. You could never have let go of Freddie unless he died - and even then it was difficult.
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Austin And Mercury Met Through Brian May, Whom She Dated First
Queen's guitar player, Brian May, met Austin at a show at Imperial College. They went on several dates, but it soon became clear the relationship wasn't going anywhere. As May put it, "She was wary of anyone, and so we'd generally just go out for a drink and say goodnight and have a quick peck on the cheek, and that was it really."
May said it was apparent Mercury liked Austin when they first met, so he didn't mind if his bandmate wanted to date her. On the night of his 24th birthday, September 5, 1970, Mercury asked out Austin, but she said no.
She later explained, "I was trying to be cool. Not because there was any reason I couldn't go. But Freddie wasn't put off; we went out the next day instead."
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They Started Living Together Five Months After Meeting
Austin admitted that it took her a while to fall in love with Mercury. According to Austin, once she did, she "could never turn away from him. His pain became my pain. His joy became my joy."
Mercury soon became consumed with Austin - once they started dating, the relationship moved quickly. Within five months, the two lived together in a small apartment in London. Austin recalled how they couldn't afford to hang curtains over more than one window and had to share a kitchen and bathroom with another couple.
Eventually, they moved to a larger apartment, and after three years, she was so in love she said she "had never felt that way about anyone."
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Austin And Mercury Developed A Domestic Bliss All Their Own
As a young woman, Austin became increasingly interested in the London rock scene and took a job at Biba, a trendy fashion boutique that was often visited by musicians like Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger.
In spite of her early career in the fashion world, Austin had insecurities and was drawn to Mercury's courage. For his part, Mercury loved that Austin could make him laugh. When journalist David Wigg first met Mercury, who was already living with Austin, he remembered watching as the couple enjoyed tea time together.
Before Mercury had any money, Austin recalled that the pair "just did normal things," including hanging out at concerts and bars.
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Mercury's Proposal Was Unexpected
After years of living together, Mercury asked Austin to marry him. Austin was surprised by his proposal on Christmas Day 1973; it was so unexpected that she had to ask whether the ring was to go on her left or right hand. She remembered:
He bought me a ring and put it in the most enormous box. I opened the box, and inside was another box, and so it went on until I got to this very tiny box. When I opened it, there was this beautiful Egyptian scarab ring. It's supposed to bring good luck. He was very sweet and shy about giving it to me.
The couple never married. She later had two children with painter Piers Cameron, then married and divorced businessman Nick Holford.
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After Mercury Revealed He Was Interested In Men, Their Romantic Relationship Came To An End
The romantic relationship between Mercury and Austin lasted six years. By the end, Austin began to question Mercury's sexuality. At first, she thought he was seeing other women - a logical assumption, considering that women routinely mobbed Mercury after concerts.
Austin became increasingly insecure in their relationship, but Mercury assured her he wanted her to be a part of his life. All the while, Mercury struggled to come to terms with his sexuality and what it meant for his relationship with Austin. He eventually told her that he thought he might be bisexual.
She told him that she believed he was gay. They separated and became platonic friends, developing a profoundly emotional connection over the following years. Mercury bought Austin a £30,000 flat and affectionately referred to her as Old Faithful.