Recently, while staying with my family in Moscow, I came across a pile of rock-related books that I adored as a teen. The majority of them was about Beatles, my first music love – a book of their lyrics, Russian translations of their biographies, and magazines featuring a story about, say, Paul McCartney (at that time, I thought of him as an old man – he was 5 years older than I am now!). Among these books, I found Freddie’s biography in Russian, probably the very first translation that came out in 1992. It now looks like a perfect artifact of the early 1990s – printed on paper of very poor quality, it is accompanied by the grainy black and white photos, and the translation seems a bit clumsy. And yet, this book brought back the thrill of scoring a record or any other material in the early 1990s when you really had to search for anything Queen-related by keeping an eye on newspapers as well as kiosks that sometimes would sell cassettes and books (most of them were bootlegs).
The first thing I remember about Freddie is how he ran through the stage, in one gliding and graceful movement; the cape he wore in the finale of the 1986 Wembley show; the dazzling beauty of his voice, and a heartbreaking realization that I would never see him live. “The Show Must Go On” playing on all channels; my obsession with “Innuendo,” the release of “Made in Heaven” and “Barcelona” and more than anything – the feeling of how huge this band and this singer were. The constant exchange of cassettes and recordings with friends and classmates, a joy of catching a Queen video on TV; recording “I’m Going Slightly Mad” and other songs from radio programs; dancing to “Headlong” at a school disco party; talking to people that knew and shared my love for Freddie.
Queen music has led me through my coming-of-age period; now I understand that I had to step away from Beatles that for me were too much associated with my younger years. The music of Queen and the voice of Freddie brought me into my adulthood, and remained with me through all of my journeys, through all the phases of life; their Greatest Hits cassette was the universal pick-me-up album that I kept with me at all times. When I fell in love with Queen four years ago, it did not come from a thin air; for it always was there somewhere deep inside, and I just had to listen to this voice, this clear, this unique voice that lightened up my soul and brought music and joy into my life.
It’s still November 23 in Canada but in other parts of the world the next day has already begun; and, looking at the tributes that my friends from the Queen community are now posting on Instagram I can’t help thinking how many years have passed since that day. Filled with sadness and gratitude, I am pausing my day to think about this great man whose voice was pulling me out of dark places innumerable times. Tomorrow I will start my morning with his songs, sharing this love with all of the fellow Queen fans that became my family in these last four years.
In memory of Freddie, with deep love and thankfulness. Forever and ever.
Katya Neklyudova, 2021
Made In Heaven (2019)
For Freddie (2020)