What was Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury really like?
Lead singer of Queen Freddie Mercury was a mysterious person for many ... But not for Peter Hince, who worked as a roadie for Queen for 12 years! Their acquaintance happened around the mid-70s, when the group was recording the classic album A Night At The Opera. Hince left his post after their grand show at Knebworth on August 9, 1986, which turned out to be Queen's last performance with Mercury ... And now, after so many years, Hince decided to lift the veil of secrecy and tell what kind of person Freddie Mercury really was. He also talks about the other members of Queen. In a word, he reveals the truth about this legendary British four...
Freddie Mercury: acquaintance with the lead singer of Queen
To the question "what kind of person was Freddie Mercury," Peter Hince replied:
“People talk about Freddie and his ego, but his ego wasn't as big as a lot of people think. It was all a game, an image... He was able to play pranks on himself, while some of the other guys in the group could not do it in the same way. You might have laughed with Freddie, but you knew the limit. He wasn't the prima donna everyone thought they were looking at... As a frontman, he was second to none. It's not just his voice, but how he commanded the stage. I loved Zeppelin and The Who - Plant and Daltrey were great frontmen! But I think Freddie had more advantages in terms of showmanship and presence. For him, it was all about interacting with the audience, being able to play with the audience and get them on their side. And he gave everything he had in every show. Fred was unique. I used to work for Bowie, but no one had the aura that Fred had. Maybe Mick Jagger did it to some extent. But from a very early age, there was always something special about him. He had such an aura. It's hard to explain, but you felt like he was someone special... At the same time, he really had a lot of self-doubt - not professionally, but personally ... "
How did Hince meet Queen? And what did the roadie of the legendary band do before that? Word to Peter:
“I first met Freddie and the other guys from Queen in 1973. I was working for Mott The Hoople at the time and Queen supported them on the UK tour. At that time, their debut album was still released ... Before that, I worked for Bowie: I was the roadie for Mick Ronson on the Ziggy Stardust tour. Then, in 1975, when Mott The Hoople was done, I needed a job. Luckily I started working with Queen! It so happened that I personally witnessed their ascent to world fame ... Queen wanted to become the most popular group in the world. They didn't hide it. And if in the 70s they were a fantastic rock band, then in the 80s they became a fantastic pop band! I was also in the studio during the recording of Bohemian Rhapsody. I remember thinking, “I don’t know what the hell this is, but I fucking love it!” I was also with Freddie when he wrote Crazy Little Thing Called Love. It was a special moment for me…”
Peter Hince is also the author of the book Queen Unseen, which references the infamous party held in New Orleans in 1978 to commemorate the release of the Queen Jazz album. There are a lot of rumors that supposedly forbidden desserts were served at this event, and gnomes did it with trays on their heads! Was it really so?
“This is complete nonsense. Yes, there were indeed gnomes. But they were carrying trays of biscuits and other cold cuts…”
Probably, John Deacon has always been a truly mysterious member of the group ... And what does Peter Hince think about this? Word to him:
“John Deacon has always been a quiet man, the quietest member of the Queen. In a way, he is the great enigma of the group... John is practically a recluse now. He wants to remain private and I think people should respect that. John has always been a very down to earth, ordinary guy. He had six children and was really close to them. But he also ended up in one of the most famous bands in the world…”
What can Hince have to say about Roger and Brian?
“Brian is one of the most difficult people I have ever come across. He has a very big and very kind heart and wants to be nice and kind to everyone! In a way, he was the most sensitive member of the group... But, like most people, he also had a dark side... He could be ruthless at times... As for Roger, he loved the rock star lifestyle: cars, suburban houses and all… He definitely liked the money, as did Fred, while Brian and John, being traditional family men, held back…”
Live Aid in 1985 was a defining moment in Queen's career. What do Hins remember the most?
“At first they didn’t want to perform. At that time, there was a serious discord in the group. I think it's quite likely that they would break up... Fred did his solo stuff. So, Live Aid inspired them! It was a turning point for the group. They attracted the audience at the right time and with the right songs. Maybe they felt they had something to prove. When they came out, you really felt – and they did – that they stole the show…”
In all the years that Hince has been with Queen, what has been the best and worst thing about his job? Let's find out:
“The best thing is the travel, the experiences and that kind of reflected glory from working with a huge group. The worst thing was when you are not appreciated: you feel used and insulted ... But it was all part of the work ... "
Peter Hince was also very surprised by Roger Taylor's reaction to his book about Queen. The band's former roadie also gave his opinion on the band's activities at the moment (with guest vocalists):
“Roger said he liked my book! And so it was. He could be a little aloof... So that was pretty sweet. I think he's a lot more relaxed these days than he was back in the 80s... How do I feel about Roger and Brian continuing to play Queen without Freddie and John? Well, when Fred died, John was like, "That's it, the Queen is gone." Brian and Roger wanted to resurrect Queen in any form, and I understand why that is… I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do. They can still be musicians without the Queen name. But the fame game - people like to keep it up for as long as possible. Is not it so? In fact, after Fred's death, the former Queen cannot be recreated, no matter in what form. I've seen Queen + Paul Rodgers, he's one of my favorite singers, but that's not it at all. And as for Adam Lambert, I'm sure he can sing, but it's kind of like a Vegas cabaret in a way. You know, if you've never seen the band, look, this is half the band. But it's not for me..."