How Freddie Mercury Teased Elton John Backstage at Live Aid
Asked about Mercury by Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, John told the Guardian, “Backstage at Live Aid, I had a huge area that I kind of decorated. I made sure there were seats for everyone, so that people who were playing could sit down and have a natter. Freddie came over after Queen had stolen the show. I said, ‘Freddie, nobody should go on after you – you were magnificent.’ He said, ‘You’re absolutely right, darling, we were – we killed them.’ He was so excited.
“Then he said, ‘You, on the other hand, dear – you looked like the fucking Queen Mother when you were onstage. Where did you get that absolutely awful hat?’ That was very Freddie. He was hilarious. Even when he was dying, he was exactly the same. He was lying in bed, too weak to stand, losing his sight, going, ‘Have you heard Mrs Bowie’s new album, darling? What does she think she’s doing?’ I always had the best time with him.”
Mercury came up again when tennis star Billie Jean King asked John about writing a new sports anthem. “Billie Jean has always gone on about ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen being the ultimate sports songs,” he said. “I couldn’t ask Bernie [Taupin] to sit down and write a lyric like that – he’s not that kind of writer. … And to be honest, ‘We Are the Champions’ can’t be beaten: It’s so good at what it does, any sport can use it.
“Queen had that market sewn up, which was hysterical, because Freddie Mercury hated sport; he knew nothing about it at all. If you’d mentioned Arsenal to Freddie, he’d have thought it was something to do with gay sex.”