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| 3 September 2012 | Reply

Lesley-Ann Jones
Hodder & Stoughton, 2011
RRP $32.99

By Shane Pinnegar

Lesley-Ann Jones made her name as a Daily Mirror journalist, befriending Freddie Mercury along the way. She brings her tabloid journo skills to this intimate biography of Queen’s flamboyant larger-than-life frontman, and true to tabloid form, there is barely a musical analysis to be seen – this is all about sensational Freddie and his sensational life, presented as sensationally as possible.

For this reason, “The Definitive Biography” it ain’t – but there is still plenty of interest to be had in the story of the former Farrokh Bulsara as told by Ms Jones, who spent time socially with the singer in his latter days.

The best bits, for those familiar with the story, cover Freddie’s childhood in Zanzibar and India, and his teens in London when he so desperately wanted to be a part of a band, and his complex and never-short-of-interesting relationship with his best friend and early lover Mary Austin.

Of course, flamboyant as Mercury was, his longing to be part of the gang always clashed with his lust for fame, and it wasn’t long before the four equally ambitious members of Queen did much of their work in separate studios.

Being tabloid trained, Jones has a natural born nose for dirt, and she spends a lot of time emphasising Mercury’s fascination with the gay club scenes in New York and Berlin, whilst not delving particularly deeply in the effect this had on his music, much less the opinions of his bandmates.

It’s on this level that the book is flimsiest – with some more analysis of the man’s musical influences and output, and some deeper attention paid to the other three members of Queen and how their music was affected by Freddie’s personal life, the book may have come a few steps closer to its claim of being Definitive.

Category: Book Reviews

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