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Publisher's Summary

A revealing, intimate look at the man who would be Queen

As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury's unmatched skills as a songwriter and his flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar and Queen a household name. But despite his worldwide fame, few people ever really glimpsed the man behind the glittering facade.

Now, more than 20 years after his death, those closest to Mercury are finally opening up about this pivotal figure in rock 'n' roll. Based on more than a hundred interviews with key figures in his life, Mercury offers the definitive account of one man's legendary life in the spotlight and behind the scenes. Rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones gained unprecedented access to Mercury's tribe, and she details Queen's slow but steady rise to fame and Mercury's descent into dangerous, pleasure-seeking excesses - this was, after all, a man who once declared, "Darling, I'm doing everything with everyone."

In her journey to understand Mercury, Jones traveled to London, Zanzibar, and India - talking with everyone from Mercury's closest friends to the sound engineer at Band Aid (who was responsible for making Queen even louder than the other bands) to second cousins halfway around the world. In the process, an intimate and complicated portrait emerges. Meticulously researched, sympathetic yet not sensational, Mercury offers an unvarnished look at the extreme highs and lows of life in the fast lane. At the heart of this story is a man...and the music he loved.

©2011 Lesley-Ann Jones (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

" Mercury goes beyond the glittering facade to get an unvarnished look at Queen's rise to fame, the loves of Mercury's life, and his fraught relationship with his conservative past, creating a complete portrait of this magnetic musician." ( MetroSource)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A tattler, not well-written, yet a guilty pleasure

Let's just bite the big bad truth at the outset: This is a gossipy tattle sheet about Freddy Mercury & by extension, Queen. I was initially quite irked by the author's voice, which is that of a self-loathing hack journalist whose greatest ambition is to gawk at famous people. She boasts of having "worked as a columnist on The Sun, The Daily Mail, The News Of The World and The Sunday Express." I was about to bail on this, when I suddenly realized that I was getting direct access to a personality I've never myself encountered, and although I can't say she's at all attractive, she does channel the British underclass obsessions and anxieties. Armed with this realization, I kicked back into enjoying this guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, the book doesn't give a great deal of insight into Freddy Mercury, who remains rather enigmatic. But there's lots of quotes (the audiobook's additional quirk is that multiple actors voice the different persons quoted). There's some interesting info about Queen, e.g., that they're the only band to ever have more than one #1 single written by each of the 4 members (so, there, they're better than the Beatles, and indeed, Ms Jones states that Queen has sold more albums than the Fab 4). I was fascinated to learn that Freddy developed a close relationship with Barbara Valentin, an actress in Germany who'd been in several Fassbinder films. I ended up enjoying this romp, although it's not at all a well written book.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Melancholy

I loved listening to this book -- it felt as if I was listening to a documentary because so many of the key characters have their own voice (i.e. there are professional readers reading for each character in the book rather than one storyteller). I feel like I know a good deal about Freddie's life after listening to this book--this book tells the story without shying away from AIDS and the horrors it brought yet captured the gentleness in Freddie's key relationships and his relationships with women. I was on a bicycling vacation in Montreaux a few years ago: I rode past a Freddie Mercury statue and wondered "wow. What a strange place for this statue. (I didn't know about Freddie's love affair with the quaint town). I also heard "we are the champions" blasting. I followed the sound and found a huge Freddie Mercury tribute contest going on. It was a surreal day. It was in September so no doubt it was a celebration of his birthday. This book caused me to think about that day and to search for the photos we took of these discoveries. ❤️💥👑

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great To Revisit Freddie After All Of These Years

After Freddie Mercury died it really felt like the end of an era. I remember crying my eyes out. I was a fan, in my 20s and a Nurse working in a large city hospital in the UK working with a team of of wonderful people trying to figure out what the heck we were going to do with all of our HIV/AIDS patients. Would this ever end. Yesterday in the Daily Mail we read that Freddie Mercury from the band Queen had AIDS. Now he is dead. How could that be?

It was heart wrenching. We knew that he had lost weight but now he has gone. Now we know.

This book brings Freddie back. We learn about Freddie the child. His insecurities, his ambitions and his surprising painful insecurity. Many people may not be surprised at his promiscuous lifestyle however I was. Only because Freddie seemed to have 'it' together so I was quite shocked at why he would take so many risks with his life. Maybe he, like so many people felt immune?

This is a beautifully written book which handles some very delicate subjects in a compassionate and respectful manner. At no time does Lesley Ann-Jones deify Freddie Mercury. She exposes him 'warts and all'. She talks about his faults, his strengths but more importantly his soul which I feel was so insecure and lonely. Freddie had no intention of dying young. That was more than apparent when he discussed his future dreams and plans for Garden Lodge.

The end of Freddie's life was almost too painful to read.

I miss you Freddie Mercury however this volume brought him back for a lovely visit.

Personally I am a fan of having several narrators as it turns the reading into more of a performance. The voice of Freddie made me tear up.

This was a walk down Memory Lane. Great read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jesse
  • Richmond, VA, United States
  • 10-22-12

Very Informative

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

the final days of Freddie's life were told very well. it made me cry as if I had been there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • steve
  • kearny, NJ, United States
  • 04-18-18

The Legend Lives On - All hail the "Queen" of Rock

Freddie was a genius who was so far ahead of his time and I absolutely loved this book. Such a great listen, very well produced. Feels just like a bunch of great interviews mixed in by a narrator. So good! Not just about Freddie too though, this book takes the listener down Rock and Roll history Lane.... Loved hearing about so many other artists I like, and their connetion with the band, such as: Elton John, Boontown Rats, David Bowe, Michael Jackson, The Darkness, Spandau Ballet, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and so many others! Absolutely brilliant. A must have for all who love Freddie and Queen.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The show must go on

'Mercury' presents an intimate look at the life of the legendary singer and performer of Queen. It quotes many of the people that were closest to him, including his bandmates and some of his romantic partners. As a fan of the band, I enjoyed getting a sense of the kind of dynamics that took place behind the scenes, both at work and in daily life. Author Lesley-Ann Jones is a journalist who has focused her career on celebrity interviews. The book does sometimes feel a little bit like the gossip column from a magazine, but I wouldn't say it's sensationalist in any way. On the contrary, it's very respectful and sympathetic towards its subject. And I finished the book feeling like I had a better understanding of the artist, the band and their music.

Unlike most audiobooks that I've listened to, this one is read by several narrators. And it mostly works. The majority of the actors read their quotes in a very naturalistic style, which makes it all sound like a documentary. To me, only the person who voiced Freddie's mother and his girlfriend Barbara Valentin, among others, sounded somewhat fake... But over all, I am happy with the narration. It's different and it suits this particular book.

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Too clinical in its approach, but enjoyable anyway

This biography was written by a rock journalist, and thus the entire book reads like one very long Rolling Stones article. Well written, but I'm not sure how much I enjoyed the very removed, journalistic execution as it prevented a sense of getting lost in the story.

What really works about the format is the various vignettes and interviews with band members, loved ones, family, and Freddie himself, all acted brilliantly by various readers. These moments added respites of intimacy otherwise lacking in the rest of the prose.

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Rock n Roll history

I feel like his story connects us to so many other rock 'n' roll legends. It was good to hear a clarification of his order and chaos of his life.

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Great info, heart warming and breaking...

I loved getting to know Freddie and learned so much about Queen! held my attention from the first line.

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Fascinating bio of Freddie's complex yet poignant life

Jones reveals quite a bit about Freddie Mercury's rise to stardom and legendary status. Jones' admiration of Freddie shines yet her portrayal of Mercury provides candid and at times surprising insight to his unique life.