I feel very honoured. Thank you Peter. Thank you to English Heritage for making this happen. I could say it’s Peter’s idea, but I know he steered this through. Thank you all for being here.
Now this is very strange for me you know. It’s about 50 years ago that I met Freddie and I came here to meet his Mum and Dad and hang out with him, and the last thing on Earth that we, we would have thought would have been that I would be here at this point commemorating of a blue plaque to my friend’s memory.
It’s a very happy occasion, you know, but with a tinge of sadness because he should be here - should still be around creating.
It’s very strange. We met Freddie first of all, Roger and I, because he was one the best friends of our singer in a group called “Smile”, and we met him at Ealing Tech where Freddie was studying Graphic Design. He spent all his time drawing pictures of Jimi Hendrix and a few other people and I came here and I distinctly remember walking in the gate and going into his little living room where he had a record player. It was a Dansette record player and autochanger and the vinyl records that were used on it were quite magical, and I think there’s a nice resurgence of vinyl going on at the moment for good reason - but I distinctly remember him putting the record on and it was a Jimi Hendrix record. I think it was “Axis Bold As Love”, and he goes, “Brian, Brian, Brian, listen, listen, listen”, and I goes “Yes, Jimi Hendrix, love Jimi Hendrix, he’s magic”, you know. And he goes, “No, no, no, listen what they do, what they do in the production. See, this guitar comes round here, and you come round to the other speaker, it comes out here. They’re panning it around, they’re moving around. This is the kind of thing we have to do, you know. This is what we gotta do”. And I thought “What?” He says “Yes, yes, we’re gonna be a group”.
And at that time I thought, “Well, can you sing”, you know, ‘cos we had no idea. We’d seen Freddie in the very very early stages where he ran around a lot and was a big exclamatory star, but he didn’t do much singing. He did a lot of wonderful posing around and some rather kind of excited kind of shouty kind of singing, but you couldn’t quite imagine that this person was gonna become the wonderful, glittering and superbly controlled performer that Freddie became.
The rest of the story you all know, as boys us, Freddie, myself, Roger and John conquered the world in a way that was way beyond even my wildest dreams and we became woven into people’s lives, which is why we’re all here today and sometimes I get up in the morning and think how did that happen?
What I haven’t said was I’m a Feltham boy too. Freddie and I were both local boys and I live about 300 yards down that way and as kids we both grew up here but we didn’t know each other. We didn’t know until that moment when we were introduced by Tim, our singer, at Ealing Tech. Ao we were neighbours and didn’t know it.
What I remember of Freddie is hard to sum up in a few words, but I remember a very shy boy in the beginning. He was kind of embarrassed that he was still living with his Mum at the time I met him, ‘cos we were also big boys at College and in digs or whatever, so he would spend a lot of his time just sleeping on people’s floors ‘cos he wanted to feel like he’d broken away. He had an extraordinary talent from the beginning, you know. I sort of you know, I’ve been kind of funny about it, but he had this amazing capacity, from the off, of going onto a stage and engaging people - making people feel that they had a contact - making people excited. And so when the time came where we made that decision to form the group together, we knew that he was something very special and he’s the kind of person who made people feel that they could do it too. That’s the way that I feel about Freddie.
Every guy or girl at the back of Wembley Stadium when we played there in 1986 felt that he represented them and their dreams and he represented the fact that we can all do what we dream if we actually dedicate ourselves to it. Freddie was one million percent dedicated to his art. He loved music. He loved creating himself as a musician and he engaged the whole world, I think.
I’m so happy that we have this plaque and I’m going to introduce you now to his wonderful sister, Kashmira.
KASHMIRA COOKE: Hello everybody. I’m just going to keep it short. I’m just very happy and proud to be here today and to unveil this blue plaque for my brother, Freddie.
< Unveiling and applauds and cheering.>
FROM CROWD: Three cheers for Freddie. Hip Hip, Horray, Hip Hip, Horray, Hip Hip, Horray.