Book review: Somebody to Love: The Life, Death & Legacy of Freddie Mercury

Matt Richards & Mark Langthorne

Blink Publishing

There have been many books published on both Queen and Freddie Mercury, so why another one and what is its hook? Well the two authors here have included the usual Queen story of the band’s history and also looked at how Freddie Mercury’s personal life affected the band. Plus they provide a timeline, which is at times graphic, on the discovery and spread of AIDS and how Freddie Mercury’s life ultimately was tragically affected by this.

The book draws heavily on previously published books and interviews for the most part, although the authors did conduct new interviews for this book with Peter Straker, a long time freind of Freddie’s, Marc Almond and Annie Lennox. Like previous books the band members have not taken part in the book and maybe for the real story of the band we will have to wait for either Brian May or Roger Taylor publish their memoirs (I don’t think John Deacon would write his memoirs as he has withdrawn from public life).

Freddie Mercury certainly did live the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to the full, and although he was always evasive over his sexuality in public, certainly in the 1970′s, however in private he was living life to the full. This would ultimately lead him to contracting the AIDS virus and his death on November 24 1991. The book title, as well as being the title of one of Queen’s most famous songs, sums up Freddie Mercury’s seemingly lifelong quest to find love and happiness.

The book switches from the band’s history to the events that were happening at the same time in the world regarding AIDS. It was very much an unknown quantity in the early 80′s and the most famous early causality was the actor Rock Hudson. The opening chapter is quite harrowing setting the scene of the final days of Freddie Mercury’s life.

Of course the Queen story is all here, from their beginnings as Smile, through to the final album recordwe whilst Freddie was still alive, ‘Innuendo’. The band’s triumphant Live Aid appearance is covered in some depth and each album’s recording is covered, although the authors steer clear of adding their opinions of the music.

As a lifelong Queen fan I have personally steered clear of the kiss and tell memoirs surrounding Freddie Mercury’s life, however this book strikes a good balance and should be on any fellow Queen fan’s book shelf. One note of caution though, those readers after a straight forward history of Queen may want to try Mark Blake’s or Laura Jackson’s books on Queen first.

Review by Jason Ritchie




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