Freddie Mercury in private: 20 rarely seen photos of the star behind closed doors

3 September 2021, 17:15 | Updated: 21 July 2022, 16:08

Behind-the-scenes pictures of Freddie Mercury throughout his career. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

While Freddie Mercury's public stage persona is well known, less is seen of the star's life behind closed doors when he relaxed with friends and family backstage at concerts and at his quiet London home.

Pictures from when Freddie Mercury was a student at Ealing Technical College in 1969 - a year before Queen's formation - through to the early years of the band and on to their world tours and huge arena shows, the images offer a glimpse into the private life of the gregarious star.

Watch: First video of Freddie Mercury: Unearthed footage of the shy Queen star as a student in 1964

Images include Freddie Mercury relaxing in Prince Hotel, Tokyo when the band were on their Japanese tour there in 1975 - and would go on to tour there another five times - to the Queen frontman leaving the helicopter at the famous Knebworth concert in 1986.

Freddie Mercury and Brian May in the back of a car, 1974. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury holding stuffed dogs in a hotel, Tokyo, April 1979. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury at his Shepherds Bush flat, London, 1969. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury of Queen, portrait at home, Holland Park, London, 1975. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury in a bedroom during a tour, circa 1977. Picture: Getty

Intimate moments capture Freddie's relationship with girlfriend Mary Austin as they relax together at home in 1977. The pair met in 1969 when Mary was just 19-years-old and Freddie was 24.

See more: Freddie Mercury's last ever photo revealed: Beautiful private image of the Queen star at home

The pair would go on to be together for two years, and even moved in together and became engaged before Freddie revealed his sexuality to Mary.

“He was like no one I had met before,” she told the Daily Mail in 2013. “He was very confident—something I have never been. We grew together.”

Read more: Did Freddie Mercury really take Princess Diana to a London gay pub in the '80s?

“All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible,” Mercury said in a 1985 interview. “The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else.

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"To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that’s enough for me.”

Freddie Mercury drinking a glass of champagne as his girlfriend Mary Austin looks on during party for friends at home c.1977. Picture: Getty
Freddie eats a biscuit while studying at Ealing Technical College in London in summer 1969. Picture: Getty
Queen take a break during their Japanese tour at Tokyo's Prince Hotel on April 20, 1975. Picture: Getty
Musicians Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Freddie Mercury of Queen attend Queen Press Conference on July 27, 1982 at Crazy Eddie's in New York City. Picture: Getty
Th Queen frontman shaving his moustache backstage on April 12, 1984. Picture: Getty
Freddie pictured backstage Freddie Mercury of Queen backstage at the Hankyu Nishinomiya Stadium after a show on the Hot Space Japan tour, Nishinomiya, Japan, 24 October 1982. Picture: Getty

Freddie and Mary remained close friends - his ex-girlfriend was entrusted with the majority of the star's death when he died - and in 1985 he met partner Jim Hutton whom he would remain in a relationship with until his death on November 24, 1991.

Read more: Who is Mary Austin? Meet the woman Freddie Mercury asked to marry

Speaking of their lives behind closed doors on The Big Breakfast in 1994, Jim recalled how quiet and reserved Freddie was in private, compared to his flamboyant on-stage persona: “He loved his cats," he said.

Read more: What happened to Queen's John Deacon?

"I’d get in from work. We’d lie together on the sofa. He would massage my feet and ask about my day."

Freddie Mercury pictured relaxing at his Shepherd's Bush, London flat in 1969. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury photographed in September 1977 with his girlfriend Mary Austin. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury getting a train from Leiden to Amsterdam, Netherlands, after a gig at Groenoordhal, Leiden, 25th April 1982. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury on the Osaka Train Station platform leaving for Nagoya during the Hot Space Japan tour, Nishinomiya, Japan, 25 October 1982. Picture: Getty

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Footage on the documentary is of one of Freddie most famous solo interviews at Musicland Studios, in Munich, 1984, in which the star discusses death and what would happen to his legacy after he's gone.

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"I don’t really think ‘When I’m dead, are they going to remember me?’ It’s up to them. When I’m dead, who cares? I don’t," he said.

When asked if he thought he was going to heaven, Freddie replied with characteristic wit: "No, I don’t want to. Hell is much better.

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"Look at the interesting people you are going to meet down there."

Freddie Mercury at Hotel Pacific Tokyo on their Night At The Opera tour, Tokyo, Japan, March 21 1976. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury attends a ballet class in Covent Garden, London, 3rd October 1979. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury performs a duet with Samantha Fox during a party at Kensington Roof Gardens in London, 12th July 1986. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury pictured applying eyeliner backstage in 1977. Picture: Getty
Freddie Mercury arriving by helicopter for Queen's famous Knebworth concert on August 9, 1986. Picture: Getty