Innuendo - The Raven's Queen's Silent Tribute to Freddie Mercury

The show must go on

Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS around 1987. He kept it to himself for years, defying any rumours about his worsening health.

On November 23, 1991 he delivered a statement to the press about his ailment, adding the following words:

"My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue."

It was one day before his death. He had kept the show up to the very last moment - a true artist who wouldn't bow out before the final curtain falls.

Empty spaces - what are we living for?
Abandoned places - I guess we know the score..
On and on!
Does anybody know what we are looking for?

Another hero - another mindless crime.
Behind the curtain, in the pantomime. Hold the line!
Does anybody want to take it anymore?

The Show must go on!
The Show must go on!
Inside my heart is breaking,
My make-up may be flaking,
But my smile, still, stays on!

Whatever happens, I'll leave it all to chance.
Another heartache - another failed romance.
On and on!
Does anybody know what we are living for?

I guess i'm learning I must be warmer now..
I'll soon be turning round the corner now.
Outside the dawn is breaking,
But inside in the dark I'm aching to be free!

The Show must go on!
The Show must go on!
Inside my heart is breaking!
My make-up may be flaking!
But my smile, still, stays on!

My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies,
Fairy tales of yesterday, will grow but never die,
I can fly, my friends!

The Show must go on! Yeah!
The Show must go on!
I'll face it with a grin! I'm never giving in!

On with the show!
I'll top the bill! I'll overkill!
I have to find the will to carry on!
On with the, On with the show!
The Show must go on.

Freddie's 45th birthday, on September 5, 1991, was perhaps the quietest of his life. He was very aware that he wasn't on top form and that he could no longer disguise the fact that he was coming to the end of his life. He didn't want a huge bash for his friends because he didn't want them to see how sad he looked. The only thing he wanted from anyone for his last birthday was privacy.

In October the band released their single The Show Must Go On, with the B-side Keep Yourself Alive. As Freddie expected, the press weren't slow to report its questioning, haunting lyrics. They speculated on possible hidden meanings in lyrics like "What are we living for? and "I'll soon be turning round the corner now" at a time when he looked so frail. To me, the most autobiographical line was: "My make-up may be flaking but my smile still stays on." That was true. No matter how ill Freddie felt, he never grumbled to anyone or sought sympathy of any kind. It was his battle, no one else's, and he always wore a brave face against the ever-increasing odds against him.

The last video Freddie made was for the single These Are The Days Of Our Lives. (It was released, shortly after his death, on the flip-side of Bohemian Rhapsody.) It seemed a very apt swansong. When Freddie was making the video he looked worse than I had ever seen him. Now the thick make-up he used to disguise the markings on his face only seemed to highlight his gaunt features. The security at the studio was very tight and only the essential technicians were there.

From Jim Hutton's book Mercury and Me

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