This week marks 31 years since Freddie Mercury tragically lost his battle with AIDS. During his final months, the Queen singer continued to write and record for the band’s last album as a four-piece, 1991’s Innuendo. Despite his declining health, the star remained defiant, giving his best, as recalls Brian May.
Brian had written The Show Must Go On, which would become the last track on Innuendo with lyrics that reflected what Freddie was going through.
The Queen guitarist has said in recent years: “We didn’t discuss what the meaning of the song was, but of course it was evident in the background that it was an attempt to give voice to the feelings that Freddie’s courageous fight against AIDS created. in all of us, and even in Freddie. He was too low on energy to create it himself. But I spent a special and unforgettable afternoon working together with him to solidify the lyrics of the first verse of this embryonic song about a clown whose makeup hid his pain, before he left for another treatment. That gave me enough lyrical material to later expand into the final two verses.”
With Freddie weakened, Brian worried that he didn’t have the strength in him to give the song all the vigor it needed.
The Queen guitarist continued: “I finished laying out the song, sang the whole thing as a demo, including the added Wings of Butterflies section, which somehow popped into my head late one night, and played it to him when he was standing next to me. in the study. The melody required some very demanding high notes, and he had only been able to demonstrate them in falsetto. I told Freddie, ‘I don’t want you to push yourself, this is not going to be easy in full voice, even for you!’”
However, the Queen singer gave an unflinching response.
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Jim Hutton shared in 1994: “For me, the most autobiographical line was: ‘My makeup may be flaking but my smile still remains.’ That was true. No matter how sick Freddie felt, he never complained to anyone or sought sympathy of any kind. It was his battle, no one else’s, and he always showed a brave face against the ever-increasing odds against him.”
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