Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography Hardcover – Dec 6 2011
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'A timely update coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Queen and the 20 years since their frontman's death'.―The Sun
Rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones is lucky enough to have known the man. She toured widely with Queen and formed lasting friendships with the band. It took a while for everyone to open up, but she eventually gained access to Freddie's colleagues and friends, and so we have this thoroughly researched portrait of the man behind the rock legend.―Brisbane Times
Lesley-Ann Jones asserts that Freddie Mercury's was a "big, extravagant, multifaceted life", and the rock journalist has certainly done a sterling job of documenting it here.―Daily Telegraph, Australia
Exactly the sort of tribute Mercury himself would have wanted ... full of perceptive and moving insights.―Spectator
About the Author
Lesley-Ann Jones is a journalist, newspaper columnist and broadcaster. The author of eight published books, she has enjoyed more than twenty-five years in music and the media. She lives in South-East London with her young children, the eldest having grown up and gone into the music business.
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Where do I start? This was just bad, disorganized and about 400 pages of supposition too long of more then 575 pages. It was painful to read because it was so poorly written and the author tries to create interest with speculations and embellishments. The author also falsely implies that this writing is the official unofficial biography of Freddie Mercury when it is not.
The author falsely claims to have gotten inside info from Freddie's camp including Queen Band mates. She even provides acknowledgements in the book for Brian May, Roger Taylor, Mary Austin and even Freddie himself when she never spoke to any of them. The author writes in the book that she wrote letters to the surviving member for input and Brian supposedly was the only to reply with, sorry can't help you.
At the beginning of the book, the author boasts about what you'll soon find out like, you will see that Freddie did this, this and this..........etc. What you'll really find is more speculations and hearsay.
She goes on to write that Persians are the most successful individuals in finance, this, this and this, etc. And it is only Persians that have accomplished this, this and this, etc, which adds another 10 more pages of space filler. This info also looks exactly like the Googling info on the web.
The author takes the reader on this long drawn out journey and makes a big deal out of traveling to Zanzibar to get a copy of Freddie's birth certificate (Why do we need his birth certificate?), only to add a lot of spin and speculation as to why an original or copy can't be found (Could it be someone stole it and sold it, or is someone hiding something, etc? More space filler). The author reports to the reader, I'll tell you more about this later (Please don't). It's a non-issue which accounts for 20 or so additional pages of conjecture and space filler.
The author also adds a lot of drama about having gone through monsoon type weather to get to a school near Bombay where Freddie attended. These 2 occurrences seem to be the only "getting up off her behind research" the author ever attempted for this book.
Following the visit to Bombay the author completely skips over several years of Freddie's life prior to Queen's existence (apparently there were no books available regarding those years she could copy).
The author then proceeds with taking quotes and excerpts of prior existing interviews and other author's books about Freddie or Queen for the next 400 pages and adds her own opinions in between. Such as, a woman who is left by a man for another man can feel better then a man leaving her for another woman, etc. This kind of thing accounts for about 75% of the content of the book. "Freddie Mercury The Definitive Biography by Lesley-Ann Jones", is a waste of money, time and its lazy journalism.
There are some small pictures (about 5) of Freddie as a pre-teen to mid-teen while in school near Bombay or Zanzibar. Pictures are not dated and are all black and white. Other small photos include a photo of Queen and one of Freddie with Mary. Another supposedly at Freddie's 45th birthday party. If accurate this would be about two months before his death, He actually looks nice in a tuxedo with close friends around.
I bought this book to learn more about Freddie because he was an outstanding human being. All members of Queen are fine indivduals but Freddie seemed to have had many more obstacles to overcome to achieve such outstanding success in his short life time.
Even though Freddie was quite private in his personal life this book still could have brought so much more to the table but chose to take the reader on a wild goose chase, repeat already documented information and add the authors own opinions to events she had never witnessed.
Honestly, any organized person (You or I) could have written a better book about Freddie.
Don't buy this book; I'm trying to save you the agony. Freddie fans wouldn't like it even if it was free. At a $1.00 rummage sale, this one should be put back down.
The early chapters in the book cover his childhood in Zanzibar, his resentment at being sent to school in India at the age of eight, and his early tastes for music, and how his life would change once he arrived in the UK in 1964.
What makes this book stand-out for other biographies is that Jones has certainly done her research (she was side-stage at Live Aid), and her determination to find a copy of Freddie's original birth certificate. She also travelled back to Africa and India and spoke to family and friends, people that knew Freddie first hand. There is still local resentment toward him, with one claiming "he gave up his family name.....and wasn't proud of Zanzibar", hence the lack of tributes, memorials or statues to him in his homeland.
Moving to England would change his life forever, as he dabbled with several bands before convincing Brian and Roger to do more original material. As he cleverly put it "If I was your singer, that's what I'd be doing". This would lead to the formation of Queen, and their first gig in 1971.
The fact that he didn't own a TV when they made their first Top of The Pops appearance, forcing him to watch it in a TV shop window in Oxford Street is just one of the many fascinating pieces here.
The great thing though out this book is that it's not a Queen book. While it's impossible to ignore their achievements, Jones cleverly throws in the odd statistic and chart achievement but keeps her focus on Mercury throughout. She doesn't shy away from Freddie's life off-stage either. We all know the showman who grabbed Live Aid by the balls, but do we know much about his lovers, his lifestyle, his 3-in-a-bed romps or his many excessive gay parties that included anything from Lesbian strippers to dwarfs, fire eaters, drag queens, mud wrestlers, snakes and hookers?
Then of course there's the music, which is what he lived for. His hero Montserrat Caballe, the duets with Michael Jackson and Bowie, what the intro to `One Vision' really is when played in reverse, his drunken on stage antics with Tony Hadley, his favourite composition, and the many meanings to Bohemian Rhapsody, the song he is most proud of.
There really is so much to learn here; their disappointment at not being asked to sing on the Band Aid record, Bowie's refusal to originally release `Under Pressure', John Deacon's depression after his death, and a fan's death at Knebworth that finally ended their live performances.
With the Sasha Baron Cohen movie of Freddie's life due to hit cinemas in 2012, Freddie Mercury's name is still on everyone's lips, 20 years after his death and I'm sure he's still looking down on everyone, and having one hell of a party in Heaven. I'm sure if he had read this book he'd be very proud of the masterful job Lesley-Ann Jones has delivered in his absence. Ultimate Magic!
The expanse of the book is based on heresay and quotes taken from other sources and publications including books, magazine articles, and even YouTube videos. Only once did the author ever actually speak directly to Freddie Mercury and that conversation was aquired only by using sneaky pre-meditated paparazzi antics. And even then nothing of consequence was discussed.
In my opinion this book is not about Freddie Mercury at all but instead about the band Queen. Don't get me wrong, I adore Queen, but I thought I was buying a book that would give me more insight into the man that was Freddie Mercury instead of a melting pot of Queen's accomplishments mixed with a splattering of other people's personal accounts of Freddie.
If you must read this book then at least wait until you can borrow it from the Kindle lending library because it most certainly is not worth the $$$$.
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