Happy 70th birthday Freddie: New intimate photos reveal Freddie Mercury’s private world
7 September 2016 by Allyssia Alleyne, CNN
London (CNN) It’s been 25 years since the death of rock legend Freddie Mercury. But in London, the Queen vocalist’s memory is being brought to life with a new exhibition. Timed to coincide with what would have been his 70th birthday (he was born Sept. 5, 1946), “A Kind of Magic” brings together intimate photos from the performer’s performances, parties and personal life as captured by celebrity photographer and close friend Richard Young.
“This isn’t a tribute to Freddie, this is a tribute to my friend, to someone who I really adored and loved as a person,” said Young, who has also photographed the likes of Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, David Bowie and Princess Diana.
“He was a joy to be with; he was a Virgo like me — great sense of humor, great fun — and he was just a lovely, lovely man.
” Though they’d long frequented the same clubs and parties, Young first met Mercury at a star-studded New Year’s Eve party in a London bar. (Rod Stewart, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood had also been in attendance that night.); ” Freddie had a certain kind of elegance about him, and a certain frame mind of knowing what he wants to wear on stage, and it was always a combo of colors that always seemed great. He had a really good eye for fashion, and a great eye for clothes”, Young said.
“Freddie had a certain kind of elegance about him, and a certain frame mind of knowing what he wants to wear on stage, and it was always a combo of colors that always seemed great. He had a really good eye for fashion, and a great eye for clothes:” Young said. The two spent most of the evening talking, with Mercury eventually suggesting that Young photograph him and the rest of Queen both on stage and behind the scenes.
“I started being invited to the video shoots, and then I got invited to do private parties for Freddie, and then I got invted to come on the road and go to places like Rio, Munich, Budapest, Ireland,” Young said. “I felt like part of the band.”
In other celebrations, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center (IAU) renamed Asteroid 17473, Freddiemercury, in honor of the Queen frontman.
“A Kind of Magic: A Celebration of Freddie Mercury’s 70th Birthday” is on at Richard Young Gallery in London until Nov. 5, 2016.
A Kind of Magic
A Celebration of Freddie Mercury’s 70th Birthday
6th September – 5th November 2016
To mark Freddie Mercury’s 70th birthday, Richard Young Gallery is proud to present A Kind of Magic, an exhibition of iconic photographs documenting sparkling moments in the life of the legendary musician. Shot through the lens of photographer Richard Young, a close friend, this collection of photographs celebrates the unforgettable musical legend, combining both rock and roll concert images and intimate real-life shots.
Richard Young first met Freddie Mercury properly on New Years Eve in 1978 at a small club in Jermyn Street called Maunkberry. With camera in hand, no expectations and a few hours to kill, this turned out to be one of the best nights of Young’s photographic career:
“First in the door Keith Richards, Ron and Jo Wood, followed by Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart and Britt Ekland. Although I had shot Freddie at various parties around town, this was the evening that cemented our relationship thanks to Queen’s International Publicist,
Roxie Mead.” Roxie recalls, “The sooner I persuaded the band and their manager to trust Richard the sooner the benefits would be visible across the press. Predictably, the likes of Queen and all artists of that calibre are not quick to bestow trust, but Richard with his irrepressible sunny nature was admitted to the inner circle to record behind-the-scene moments.”
These moments are featured in A Kind of Magic where the insider’s view of Freddie Mercury’s glamorous world will be on display, including extravagant private and public birthday parties; backstage and onstage shots of international concerts from Ibiza, to Budapest, Rio and Barcelona; and music video shoots. Young’s favourite memory was Mercury’s 39th birthday:
“The parties were always wild, full of laughter and unique. When you were in Freddie’s inner circle you would always be given a nickname, mine was Muriel Young. This was after the TV presenter from the 50’s, and Freddie would always say, “Come on Muriel!” I loved it. I felt I was part of his family.”
There were also many times Freddie Mercury invited Young to capture intimate portraits. In October 2013, Young’s candid photograph of Mercury at home was inducted into the National Portrait Gallery. Roxie Mead comments, “In those latter years wherever, whenever, Richard was invariably there and his photographs are a remarkable testament of this remarkable man.”
Richard Young’s archive contains an impressive number of images of Freddie Mercury that have only recently been uncovered, and this landmark birthday commemoration is a significant time to exhibit them. “This year Freddie would have been 70, I am a year younger and we are both Virgos. I have the most wonderful memories from my time with Freddie. It was a unique part of rock and roll history, and I feel so honoured that I was able to capture so many wonderful, fun and also poignant times of him over a thirteen-year period. He left us far too early.”
For further information, images or to request an interview, please contact Susan Young at Richard Young Gallery. For press enquiries, please contact Sarah Henderson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Young Gallery
4 Holland Street, London W8 4LT
Tel: 0207 937 8911