Freddie Mercury’s lyric-filled notebook to go on sale at auction
20 April 2016 by Mark Brown
Queen singer used pad to write lyrics for 19 songs, including Too Much Love Will Kill You and The Show Must Go On
Freddie Mercury used the personal notebook, which contain lyrics for his final songs, between 1988 and 1980.
Photograph: Carl Persson
We are proud to be offering Freddie Mercury’s personal lyric book. The book was used by Mercury extensively while writing and recording Queens last two albums while he was alive The Miracle 1989 and Innuendo 1991. The modest spiral bound notebook inscribed on the cover Mercury Song Book, containing numerous lyrics and song structures in Freddie’s hand, as well as some entries by Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Songs include The Miracle, Party, Scandal, I Want It All, These Are The Days Of Our Lives, I Can’t Live With You, Innuendo and The Show Must Go On.
Estimate £50,000 – 70,000
+44 (0)20 7393 3871
A notebook used by Freddie Mercury for nearly three years and which contains lyrics for some of his final songs is to be auctioned in the UK.
Bonhams is offering the Queen frontman’s personal pad, which he carried around between 1988 and 1990.
It contains lyrics by Mercury and his Queen bandmates for songs such as Too Much Love Will Kill You and The Show Must Go On – both songs loaded with extra poignancy given he had HIV at the time.
Stephen Maycock, a consultant specialist in entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said the notebook was a unique document.
“We see and sell lyrics from all sorts of different artists but they tend to be one piece of paper for one song. To have a notebook which contains tracks recorded over a three-year period is really exceptional. I can’t think of another one.”
The notepad itself is pretty bog standard and still has a price label from the shop on Goldhawk Road, London, it was bought from. Inside are lyrics, written in blue and red pen, for 19 songs from two albums – either fragments or the whole thing.
The lyrics from The Show Must Go On, mainly written by May, are particularly touching as they chronicle Mercury’s efforts to continue performing despite his illness. One fragment reads: “My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies/ Fairytales of yesterday will grow but never die/ Forever [with a pencil annotation I can fly written above] my friends.”
May once said that Mercury could hardly walk when the band recorded The Show Must Go On. It was released in October 1991, six weeks before Mercury died aged 45.
“It is a poignant record of that period but it also struck me that it is a testament to the creative energy in the band,” said Maycock. “Despite his illness and increasing frailty the ideas were still there. His performance on that last album was remarkable considering how frail he was, his vocal powers on some of the tracks are just extraordinary… he did have this incredible drive.”
The notebook is being sold in Bonhams’ entertainment memorabilia sale on 29 June and has an estimate price of £50,000-£70,000.
Maycock said the market was strong for important pieces. “There are plenty of collectors out there who I’m sure would love to have this – it’s because it is so personal, he had it there with him for nearly three years. It gives you a really close connection.”