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IN THE LAP OF THE GODS

"From now on, dressing up crazily on stage is out. I don't think a 42-year old man should be running around in his leotard any more. It's not very becoming."

We have been very lucky. I didn't think we were going to last this long. I thought after five years it was all going to be over and I'd have to think of something else to do - become a charlady or something.

I'm very proud of the fact that I'm still around after all this time, that I'm still selling records, and that I'm still a force to be reckoned with. I didn't expect to be. I'm proud, and also amazed. I've still got a musical output and I'm still accepted. You hear about these people whose pots are running dry and I'm so pleased I can still come up with different things - new songs and new ideas after all this time. That to me is tops. It's the cherry on the top of the cake. It's got to the point where we are actually too old to break up now. Can you imagine forming a new band at 40? Be a bit silly wouldn't it?

We do things now in a style that is very different to anybody else. It just happened. We just do our thing, because that's what we really believe in. I think Queen have actually got a new lease of life. After so many years I thought people might forget about us, but it's been like a re-birth recently. Im quite amazed. It gives you an added incentive to think that people still like you and that's what keeps you going. It's like I've said on stage... until you buggers stop buying our records, we'll still be here. If you want us, well be.

It's a question of coming to recognise the fact that it might all be over one day, and the more we carry on, the nearer we are to that situation. In the back of my mind I know it obviously will end, and that it could end any day now. That's more my motivation than anything. I get more of a drive by thinking that way than anything else.

I don't want to sound like Gloria Swanson or something, but I will NOT come to the realisation that it's going to end. At the moment I feel we still have something quite worthwhile to offer - we're still just as confident a we were when we started off.

One way or another I'm going to try and make sure that I stick in the music industry because that's all I know how to do, to be honest. I've forgotten all my other trades. I couldn't go back to illustration because I've lost all contact with that world.

I would be such a boring person if I woke up every morning and thought, "God, what am I going to do if it's all over today?" I'll wait for that and if it happens then it will be spontaneous. For the life of me at the moment I don't know what I would do. But I don't think in those terms. For now is it happening for us, so why the hell should I think like that? That's like being negative, and I don't want to be negative. I just want to carry on and coin Up with fresh ideas and think about what to do next. It's like a big business thing and as long as we don't take it too seriously, we will be fine.



I'm very happy doing it. If I weren't, I'd give it up. It's not the money any more. In one way, I feel obligated to the fans. To get this far and then suddenly say, "Yes, I've made my money, that's it now!" No, that's not me I'm going to give it my all, still. This is what I'm best at.

At this point in time I'm having a good time. Before, I was very serious and caught up in being successful and being a star, and all that, and I thought. This is the way a star behaves." Now, I don't give a damn. I just want to do things my way, and 1 want to have fun doing it. If I approach everything I do in that way I think it come out in the songs I create. Basically Ive learned to calm down. I'm not as paranoid as I was before. I'm not afraid to speak out and say the things I want, or do the things I want to do. In the end, being natural and being genuine is what wins, and I hope that comes across too. I'm not worried about making mistakes. I'm too old for that.

In ten years time I certainly won't be wearing the same costumes and running around on stage. I don't know what I'll be doing then, but I know one thing... I'll still be having a good time.

I've personally had it with these bombastic lights and staging effects. From now on, dressing up crazily on stage is out. I don't think a 42-year old man should be running around in his leotard any more. It's not very becoming. At 45, 50, if people think I'm going to be running around on that stage, they're mistaken. It would be totally wrong. It'd be silly. I'm going to put our music across dressed more casually. The world has changed - people want something more direct.

The days of screaming fans and everything that goes with that are over for us. We've grown up. The people who buy our records have grown up as well. It's more sophisticated and more mature now.

We've been very successful worldwide and that's one thing I could never have foreseen, our success outside Britain. I think we've got a certain amount of recognition and respectability now, for being respectable musicians who wrote good songs. That's good enough for me.

I want to go to places I've never been. To me it's all about people. Music should go all around the world. I want to go to Russia and China and place like that, places I haven't seen, before it's too late - before I end up in wheelchair and can't do anything. And... I'll still be wearing my same tights too! I can imagine them wheeling me on stage in a wheelchair, up to a piano, and still singing Bohemian Rhapsody.

If I want to try different things - walk a tightrope, live a knife-edge - and do things where if I fall completely flat on my face and do things which are harmful to my career, so what? I will.

There are a lot of things I have done in my career that maybe I shouldn't have undertaken, but you learn by your mistakes. I regret a few of them, but doesn't everybody? I think it was a wrong decision to maybe go with certain managerial options we took on in the earlier years, but then I can even look upon them and say, "Well, I'm glad, because that's how I learned."

Things like wearing tights on stage. At the time of course I was totally convinced about doing that. When I did the balletic thing and was wearing certain outfits, I remember, as usual, the media took it all out of proportion, saying, "Oh, there you are, Freddie Mercury's gonna change rock 'n' roll, bringing ballet into the pop music genre." And I think if I still had long hair and black fingernails and was wearing those things now, I would look ridiculous. I looked ridiculous then, but it worked!

When I look back on all that black nail varnish, chiffon, satin and all those props, I think, "God! What was I doing?" I used to feel a need for all that on stage. It made me feel more secure. But now I don't. I've grown up a bit, I look back on it and think, "Oh, what an arsehole!" and "What a silly girl!" Then I laugh at it. A lot of my costumes are totally embarrassing to look hack on now, but I took them so seriously at the time. But I always had an element of humour too.

Nobody could take the piss out of me as much as I take the piss out of myself. I did that with all those costumes and various other things. I was thinking, "Don't take yourself so seriously." And the best way to do that is to put on a ridiculous costume and go on the stage and appear to be serious - but just have tongue in cheek and say to yourself, "As long as you know, its ok." I loved it. It was wonderful.

 

In my day, as it were, that was the thing - glam rock was in. We just went for that - the clothes and glamour and the whole image. If 1 hadn't changed, tell you I wouldn't be here today.

I don't regret too many decision I made. I look upon some of the things I did with disgust and of course think, "My God, how could I have done that?" but I must say, over all, I will stand by most of the decisions Ive taken.

I've had upheavals and I've had immense problems, but I've had a wonderful time and I have no regrets. Oh dear, I sound like Edith Piaf!

I can't retire. What else would I do? It's a very funny thing. I'm very happy with what I've achieved. I've got where I want to be. I have enough money, I have success and adulation. What more do I want? I'm just a musical prostitute my dears!

I've earned my keep, to be honest. I worked hard for what I've got. I've worked hard for the money. Nobody's given it to me. I've earned it and it's mine to do what I want with. I look back and I say to myself, "Well done my dear. Good luck to you. You did it yourself."

If I had to do it all again? Yes. Why not? I might do some of it slightly differently. I have no regrets.

 

 

Chapter twenty

TAKING MY RIDE WITH DESTINY

"I don't expect to make old bones, and what's more I don't really care. I certainly don't have any aspirations to live to 70. It would be so boring. I will be dead and gone long before that."

Some people can take second best, but I can't. I look upon it as a defeat. If you've got the taste of being number one, then number two isn't good enough.

What I'm doing right now is what interests me most and I'm very happy that people buy my records and that they like me. I don't want to just give it up. When my legs give out, I'll be happy to just sit around in bandages, knitting socks for sailors! The only way I'm going to stop is if people stop buying my records. As long as the people are buying the music, then it's ok. When they stop buying our records I'll say goodbye and do something else -become a strip artist or go into painting or something.

I'll carry on as long as I write music and people want to buy it. That's important to me, but it's not the be all and end all. I'm not going to be of those old hams that keep going and going. I'd rather leave it at the top and do something else.

I want to carry on doing what I am doing, but there's a price to pay and I'm quite prepared to pay it, To me, what I do is priority and it's what I love doing. Mueic is the thing that keeps me together. It's like a shield for me -my musical abilities. I can fend off all kinds of things. So it's like a battle all the time, but I don't mind as long as I win through and seem to get a little bit across. I've built a structure, a kind of musical belief in myself, and that keeps me going.

This is in my blood. The only thing I can do is to write music and perform, and that's what I'm going to be doing -1 think that's what all of us are going to be doing - until we die. If I didn't do this, I don't have anything else to do. I can't cook, and I'm not very good at being a housewife. I seem to have been doing this for so long now that I don't know what else to do. I'd be very vulnerable and I wouldn't know what to do, so I think I just have to keep doing it.

It's not a question of having to keep doing it, of course - I've made a lot of money and I could live beautifully and wonderfully for the rest of my life -but the way I live is that I have to be doing something every day. I have a nervous energy that needs to be doing something. There's a voice inside me saying, "Slow down, you'll burn yourself out!" but I can't stop. It's just a nervous energy that I have. I basically write music and I want to keep doing that. I have a lot of songs and I enjoy doing them. You see, it's come to a stage where before, I felt it was my work, my job, and though it's still my work now, I don't have to do it. I feel it's something I enjoy doing and it's very interesting. There are still lots of challenges ahead and I'm going to receive them with open arms.

Underneath it all, we like each other and we like the music we make. That's basically it. And if we didn't like the music, we'd say goodbye to each other.

I really wouldn't know about things in 20 years time. It would be nice if people were still buying our records then. I would hate to be doing it just to sell records and make money. We do it because we have interest in it, and if 1 lost that I would go and do something else. I like trying out different things, and at the moment there is a lot within Queen we can do. One day I might say to myself, "I have done enough with Queen so now I will do something else," but I couldn't tell you whether that will happen tomorrow or in two ars time or in another ten years. Let's wait and see.

At this point in time I'm just having a good time. I just want to do things my way, and I want to have fun doing it. At the moment I don't think I'd like to tour. It's going back to that thing about wanting to break the format. As far as I'm concerned, I've been in the studio for two years - having done the Queen album [The Miracle, 1989] and before that the Montserrat album -and I just think it wouldn't be right for me. I feel it would be back to exactly what we said we wouldn't be doing.

I think it's just a matter of time. We've just got to wait and see. Then if something comes up and we decide that we want to tour, we will do it. But I personally didn't want to tour on the same pretext as before - that here cornel an album so we go out on the road again. As far as I'm concerned we've done all those big venues and everything, we've got to think of something different now. Over the last years all we've done is a studio album per year and then tour and go around the world, and then by the time we come hack we have to think of the next album.

For us to get to this level, for us to actually be here after all thil time.,. 1 think we would have never arrived at this point if we hadn't taken thou two years off [1987/88]. I really do. It's actually stepping outside of Queen, doing something else, and realising that we miss Queen and that we went to come back and do something new, is why I think this album [The Miracle} sounds so fresh.

We are four people with very different ideas, and it does need four people to actually want to do it. If one person doesn't want to tour, then you can't, I think I'm the actual spanner in the works at the moment, and I'll be very honest in saying so. I'm the one that doesn't want to tour.

I don't think I'm letting the others down, or anything. It's just that if one of them didn't want to do this album, then we would have to agree, because there' no point forcing somebody, especially after all these years. It would be so awful. You have to be hungry to do it - what we have done all these years. I'd hate to do that sort of slogging thing, for the sake of doing it. I mean, we don't need any more money, so we don't do it for the money. I think we do it for the music, which I know ii a boring thing to say, but we do it because we still have the music in us.

Sometimes I think there must be more to life than rushing round the world like a mad thing. I can't carry on rocking the way I have done in the past -it's all too much. It's no way for a grown man to behave. I have stopped my nights of wild partying but that's not because I'm ill, but down to age. I'm no longer a spring chicken. Now I prefer to spend my time at home. It's part of growing up - this is what growing up is about. I'm trying to rest and calm down a bit.

I've always been serious, but I still have a flippant nature. I suppose being 39, you look upon it in a more sedate way. It's something that I instinctively don't think about. I also think that if you worry about it too often it does actually age you. I'm not worried about wrinkles and things like that. I don't get up every morning and rush to the mirror and see how many lines I've got. That's the best way to do it as far as I'm concerned. I don't worry. I mean, you're going to get old, you'll look old, and that's the way it is, no matter how many creams you use. It's just not me. There's nothing one can do about it. I'm not afraid of looking old. It's how you feel inside that matters. It sounds so cliched, I know. And I am not worried about getting fat, in fact I'd love to put on a bit of weight and be a bit plump.

I'm not bad for 39 - not bad at all. And no facelift. There are probably people looking for tucks when they lift my hair back, but no, there are none of the Michael Jacksons here!

I don't know how other people are, but I don't worry about my age at all because I know I look beautiful anyway. Why should anybody worry about age? You can't do anything about it, you can't get younger. I'm not worried about getting any younger or older, I just want to live life to the full and spend my life doing wonderful things. I just don't worry about it. I think that ays can be a good quality because age equals experience and I'm using all the experience I have gathered over the years to benefit from.

I'm perfectly fit and healthy, but of course I'm concerned about my health. Isn't everybody?

I pray I'll never get AIDS. So many friends have it. Some have died, others won't last much longer. I'm terrified that I'll be the next. Immediately after I have sex I think, "Suppose that was the one? Suppose the virus is now in my body?" I jump in the shower and try to scrub myself clean although I know it's useless.

I was totally devastated when I heard about my friends who have died from AIDS. It brought the seriousness of the illness home to me. I learnt the hard way. When you're young it is so much harder. I was thinking the other day, we were lucky to have sown our wild oats when we did, but they are just starting out. It is something the young have got to get to grips with.

I used to live for sex but now I've changed. I've stopped going out, stopped the nights of wild partying. I've almost become a nun. It's amazing, I thought sex was a very important thing to me but now I realise I've just gone completely the other way. Once, I was extremely promiscuous, it was excess in every direction, but now I'm totally different. I have stopped all that and I don't miss that kind of life. Everything is fine.

You see, I'm one of those people that can go from black to white. I don't like intermediary measures. It's quite easy for me to completely give up things. I can give up alcohol at the drop of a hat. AIDS has frightened me to death and so I've just stopped having sex. I just like titillation now. I'm into titillation. It's much more fun. What more can I do? I've stopped having sex and started growing tulips!

You can't expect people to just abstain from sex forever. I think the menage of safe sex is essential and crucial. Anyone who sleeps around should have an AIDS test.

It ii a very, very serious thing we are dealing with. I think people have to wait now, better times are ahead. This thing about safe sex is very worthwhile, but you can still have fun. You can't expect people to just give up sex. People get freaked, they think they have AIDS and they shoot themselves, and then people find nut that they didn't have it after all. People should be careful, but not get paranoid.

We're living with it now and it's there, on your doorstep, and you'd be a fool to say that you haven't heard of it. You can't get away from it. But if you get into the nitty-gritty of it, there are friends of mine who have died of AIDS. It's devastating.

How much more can one harp on about it? I am not the saviour of the fucking thing! I like those television ads where it says everybody is equal with AIDS - like money doesn't mean anything. AIDS is not prejudiced. AIDS is not prejudiced about who you are or what you do. It gets you!

Before, I was very greedy. I was promiscuous, that's true, but I've stopped all that because practicality came into it. You know what I'm talking about. It's up to the individual. Most people live by sex, but a lot of people can't do without it. A lot of people just have it as a pastime. I don't want to suddenly say that sex is boring or overrated because that would be farcical - having just said that I was very promiscuous, that would be a contradiction.

It sounds like I'm putting sex on a pedestal, but I'm not. You see, I took sex with everything I was doing. To me it was like a high. Everything was open to me, sex was a very integral ingredient to what I was doing. It was a very major factor in a lot of things I did. But I would never have thought of sex and nothing else. I was living life to the full and there was excess in every direction. There was also music of course. I had all that. I was weighing everything up together and I was living what one would call a very full life in every direction. Why not?

I have a very good relationship now and also I'm an old bird now, so the word solace came into it. You can't say you have a life of solace and go round fucking half the world. And I don't miss it. I really don't.

Like I've said before, I think that in the end being natural and being genuine is what wins. I'm not worried about making mistakes, I think I'm too old for that. This is a survival test.

There will come a point where there will be a unanimous vote, or whatever, when we feel instinctively that Queen have gone as far an they can go and there's nothing left, constructively or creatively. And the last thing I want to do is actually force things within Queen. I'd rather leave it at a nice level, and then do something completely different. And I'm sure that all of us have that kind of way of thinking.

I know there will be a time when I have to stop, but music will still be my thing, so I'll have to think in terms of what I can do. I don't want to end my life just being a rock'n'roll star. Maybe I can go into record production or I'll still write songs - because one might not have the physical fitness to run around on stage, but you can still write songs. So, one way or another the music side is always going to be in my life.

You can become very blase, I know, but in a way it becomes harder because now it's a question of staying power. You've achieved everything, so what else is there? But the thing is, I've got nothing else to do, so I can't stop doing what I'm doing. I could live on the money I have for the rest of my days, but I'm not that kind of person. I want to work because I get bored.

I love the fact that I make people happy, in any form. Even if it's just half an hour of their lives, in any way that I can make them feel lucky or make them feel good, or bring a smile to a sour face, that to me is worthwhile.

I really don't want to change the world. To me happiness is the most important thing - to be happy and to have fun. If I'm happy it shows in my work. I take notice of everything, but in the end I just do things how I feel. I listen to advice, but I can't listen to everybody otherwise I just wouldn't be myself. In the end you are your own boss and you crack the whip, which is very vulnerable position to be in. This is my life, I'm the boss and that's the only way I know how to be. I listen to criticism and advice but then I have to make up my own mind. In the end, all the mistakes and all the excuses are down to me. I can't pass the buck, I like to feel that I've just been my honest self and as far as I'm concerned I just want to pack in as much of life and fun as I can within the years that I have.

Will my music stand the test of lime? I don't give a fuck! I won't be around to worry about it. In 20 years time,., I'll he dead darlings. Are you mad?

I don't expect to make old bones, and what's more I don't really care. I certainly don't have any aspirations to live to 70. It would be so boring. I will be dead and gone long before that. I won't be here. I'll be starting a new life somewhere else - growing my own pomegranates.

I don't want to be a burden on anybody else. I would like to feel that I went without having to be a burden on anyone, and that's not condescending. I just don't want to. It's the honest truth. I'd love to go while I'm still on top.

I'm not going be like Eva Peron. I don't want to go down in history as one of those people who worried... hoping they realise, after I'm dead, that I created something or I invented something. Life is for living. I don't give a damn about all that. In the meantime, I've had fun and I want to go on having fun - doing this.

I don't want to sound morbid. 70 is a long way away. As far as I'm concerned I've lived a full life and if I'm dead tomorrow I don't give a damn. I've lived. I really have done it all.

If I'm dead and I want to be buried with all my treasures, like Tutankhamen, I'll do it. If I want a pyramid in Kensington, and I can afford it, I'll have it. Wouldn't that be fab?

Will I get to heaven? No. I don't want to. Hell is much better. Look at all the interesting people you're going to meet down there!

C'est la vie!

When I'm dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance. I don't know how they will remember me. I haven't thought about that - dead and gone. No, I haven't thought about it. I don't really think, "My God! When I'm dead are they going to remember me?" It's up to them. When I'm dead, who cares? I don't!

 

-THE END-

"Thank you. God bless and sweet dreams... you lot of tarts!"

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Simon and Greg offer sincere thanks to: Lucy Batcup, Jim Beach, Tildy Beach, Victor Blanke, Jer Bulsara, Anthony Cauchi, Alexi Cory-Smith, Helen Donlon, James Harman, Tom Jackson, Jim Jenkins, John Libson, Louise Lupton, Anne Meyer, Janice Page, Robin Keen, Amin Saleh, Jacky Smith, Jim Stevenson, Phil Symes, Gary Taylor, Nick Weymouth, David Wigg, And appreciation to John Deacon, Brian May, Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury,

Is This The World We Created lyrics by kind permission of Queen Mulic Ltd. / EMI Music Publishing Ltd.

CREDITS

Books: Freddie Mercury and Queen - Neville Marten & Jeffrey Hudion (Faber & Faber), Living On The Edge - David Bret (Robson Books), Queen: An Official Biography Larry Pryce ( Star Books), The Complete Guide To The Music of Queen - Peter Hogan (Omnibul Press), The New Visual Documentary - Ken Dean (Omnibus Press), Queen: In Their Own Words Mick St. Michael (Omnibus Press), Queen Live: A Concert Documentary - Greg Brook (Omnibus Press), Freddie Mercury - Peter Freestone & David Evans (Omnibus Press), Freddie Mercury; A Kind of Magic - Ross Clarke (Kingsfleet Publications), Freddie Mercury:The Definitive Biography Lesley-Ann Jones (Hodder & Stoughton), The Show Must Go On - Rick Sky (Citadel press), At It Began -Jim Jenkins & Jacky Gunn (Sidgwick & Jackson), The Truth Kthmd The Ltiirt4 - David Evans & David Minns (Britannia Press), Queen: An Illustrated Biography - Judith Davis (Proteus Publishing),

Magazines and newspapers; Classic Rock, Record Hunter, Q, Daily Mirror, Dllf, Diiy 1, Tht Sun, Mojo, NME (New Musical Express), Melody Maker, Circus,, Record and Popswof Mirorw (aka Record Mirror), Sounds.

 

 


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 1332


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