Forget all the Great Pretenders and another recent movie, Freddie was the greatest showman. Yet, in a powerful 1982 TV interview he revealed how hard it was to balance on the “knife-edge” of pleasing fans and being true to himself. He also answered critics who said the band were “bores.” Queen were at their most incredible when they embraced who they really were, although this was a time when even the band had very different ideas about what to do next.
The interview with US showbusiness giant Entertainment Tonight took place in 1982, before Live Aid. It was the end of the rock 1970s and dawn of disco and pop in the 1980s. Freddie was getting a little restless with the fixed perception of the band and wanting to explore different sounds and inspirations.
It was the time depicted in the movie when the band released Hot Space, recorded during a tumultuous period in Germany, where Brian May and Roger Taylor clashed with Fredddie over the new synth sound. It produced the major hitt Under Pressure, with David Bowie, but was the band’s popularity in the US took a major downturn.
Some fans and critics thought Freddie was getting too “theatrical” and the music too pop, losing the essence of Queen. As always he had the perfect unapologetic answer.
Freddie said: “I couldn’t get any more theatrical. THat’s just the way I want to perform. It’s grasping a song and delivering it the way I feel… I’m a big ham, i just get on that stage and I don’t really take myself that seriously.”
“There was a time in the early days when our music was very pompous and serious and people thought, ‘What a load of bores.’ At that time everyone was a little serious, but after ten years you have to ease off.
“I personally have a good time fooling around on stage. That’s why I’m not afraid to fall flat on my face, coming out in some of the things I wear. They have an element of humour, which I hope comes across.”
Freddie also warned about the danger of geting stuck in a rut, where fans only want you for one sound, one style.
You can get very blase about the public. You built up your public and they only want you for a certain thing. That’s the wrong way about it, they should be aware of what you want to do.
“You can build up a sound and can fall into a trap and in the end that’s all they want and you’re manipulated by the public. That’s the last thing I want to do.
“It’s a knife’s edge, which is good. The danger is exactly what we need right now… Otherwise it would just be too easy.”
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY IS OUT NOW ON DIGITAL AND DOWNLOAD, AND ON DVD AND BLU-RAY ON MARCH 3