Bohemian Rhapsody introduced audiences to the origins of Queen and detailed their rise to stardom, but left out the rest of the story. The movie Bohemian Rhapsody ends with Queen's epic performance at Live Aid in 1985, but that's far from the final moment of Queen's tale.
Following their show-stealing set at Live Aid, Queen continued to perform, release albums, and innovate as they always had. The concerts, appearances, and music from Queen's final years pushed boundaries and contributed to their legacy just as much as their earlier work. All told, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon accomplished a lot together before Mercury passed in 1991.
Freddie Mercury Incorporated Footage Of His 39th Birthday Party Into A Music Video
Freddie Mercury threw elaborate parties for himself and his friends. The Times reports his 39th birthday party in 1985 at a nightclub in Munich, Germany, was a drag-themed affair featuring elaborate costumes, champagne, and caviar.
Mercury invited photographer Richard Young to the party, and Young captured some of the festivities on film. Young recalled when Mercury called him and told him, "It's a drag ball, so everybody is coming in drag. That means you too, Richard." Young told Mercury, "I can't take pictures in heels: they’re far too uncomfortable." But he did don a dress.
Footage from the party made its way into the music video for Mercury's song "Living on My Own."
Freddie Mercury Collaborated With Opera Sensation Montserrat Caballé
While on the Magic Tour, a Spanish reporter asked Freddie Mercury who his favorite singer was, and Mercury responded that it was Montserrat Caballé. A native of Spain, NPR reports Caballé loved singing from a young age and began performing with the Basel Opera in 1956. Caballé found out about Mercury's comments, and her brother/manager reached out to the singer a few days later.
Caballé wanted to meet with Mercury. A very nervous Mercury was resistant at first, but the two singers had lunch together and hit it off. After Mercury gave Caballé a recording of him impersonating her, she agreed to perform his song "Exercises in Free Love," according to Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic.
Caballé later suggested they record something together. With piano player Mike Moran, Mercury and Caballé wrote and recorded "Barcelona" in 1987. The song was released in October of the same year and was featured during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
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Montserrat Caballé's Proximity To Mercury Gave Her Insights Into His Health
During the time Freddie Mercury recorded with Montserrat Caballé, his health was visibly declining. By some accounts, Mercury took an HIV test in 1985, but according to the book Somebody to Love, he stated that it came back negative. During his time with Caballé, however, he began to see Kaposi's sarcoma appear on his body.
[Mercury] told me [about his illness]... then we had the opportunity to create songs that all have a meaning... I was moved because we were creating something very special. It’s not often; you don’t often have the good fortune to sing with someone who is leaving, who knows it and to be singing with him his final goodbye.
According to The Guardian, she kept his diagnosis quiet and, in his final days, played a recording of The Phantom of the Opera for him over the phone, which Mercury "loved very much." The two had talked about recording it together. Caballé said:
I knew he was in bed and very weak, and I wanted to surprise him by recording Phantom. I phoned him and put the speaker near the phone and played it. He was very happy. He said, '"Thank you, Montsy, I wanted very much to hear it." And that was my last time I talked to him.
Queen Released 'The Miracle' In 1989
While Freddie Mercury was working with Montserrat Cabellé, Queen continued to record their next album, The Miracle. Released on May 22, 1989, The Miracle went to #1 on the UK charts. Queen's two most successful singles from the album, "I Want It All" and "Breakthru," both reached the top 10 in the UK.
The album was considered Queen's return to rock 'n' roll, but Rolling Stone thought otherwise. According to Kim Neely's review, Queen hadn't "been so bogged down by synthesizers and pinging drum machines since Hot Space." The review did give credit to Mercury's vocals and Brian May's guitar work, however.