FREDDIE, I'LL LOVE YOU ALWAYS
DAILY MIRROR 28TH NOVEMBER 1991
ELTON'S TEARFUL FAREWELL Grieving Elton John said a tearful farewell to fellow superstar Freddie Mercury yesterday with the words: "I' will love you always." Elton's message was pinned to a massive wreath of pink roses shaped as a heart. The note added: "Thank you for being my friend." But the emotional tribute could not reflect the true loss felt by red-eyed Elton as he left AIDS victim Freddie's funeral. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he walked forlornly to his green Bentley before being driven off.
Freddie's Queen comrades were equally distraught. And as they filed away, it was announced that the band's best known hit Bohemian Rhapsody would be re-released next month to raise money for AIDS charities. The song will almost certainly be the Christmas No. 1.
In another gesture, planned by Freddie before his death last Sunday, the piles of flowers laid at West London Crematorium will cheer AIDS patients. They were gathered up after the service to be taken to hospitals caring for sufferers.
The 25-minute funeral was a somber contrast to Freddie's wild life of outrageous decadence. It was conducted by priests following the ancient Zoroastrian faith of the star's family.
Freddie's devout parents, who live in a modest terraced house, stood side by side with millionaire rock idols as the priests chanted and blessed the coffin. Mary Austin, for years gay Freddie's platonic girlfriend, wept through most of the service. The message on her unsigned wreath read: "For my dearest with my deepest love. Your Old Faithful."
A quiet reception was held after the funeral, at Freddie's mansion in Kensington, West London. Dave Clark, the 60's drummer who was alone with Freddie when he died, emerged two hours later. He whispered: "It was a lovely service, very emotional. Freddie would have appreciated it."
Freddie sends his last moving message in a song:
YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND
Tragic Freddie Mercury sent a last message to his closest pals yesterday as the moving ballad You've Got A Friend was played to mourners at his funeral.
Soul star Aretha Franklyn's version of the classic song rang out as the Queen singer's coffin was taken into a crematorium chapel. AIDS victim Freddie had planned the funeral himself before his death. And those who came to remember him responded to his theme with tears, flowers and prayers for their good friend.
The funeral attended by fewer than 40 mourners reflected the bizarre mixture of Freddie's two worlds. It was conducted by white-robed priests according to his family's ancient Zoroastrian religion. Yet among those at West London Crematorium were modern rock giants Elton John, Queen comrades, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, and the 60's drummer, Dave Clark - who was alone with Freddie when he died aged 45 on Sunday.
His grief-stricken parents Bomi and Jer Bulsara - strict Zoroastrians - had to be supported by friends. And one-time girlfriend Mary Austin, who stayed close to the singer throughout his string of gay affairs, wept through most of the 25-minute service.
Flamboyant Freddie, born Frederick Bulsara in Zanzibar, (Reporter's mistake, as you probably know Freddie was born 'Farokh' Bulsara - not sure of spelling) went back to his roots in death. In accordance with age-old Zoroastrian rites, Parsee priests in muslin robes and caps chanted prayers over the stars silk-lined oak coffin, which had a single red rose on its lid. They kept to the Avestan language first used in Persia 3,500 years ago. The only English spoken was when mourners were told to stand or sit. Their prayers were supposed to help Freddie make his final journey to Garothman Bahest - the prophet Zoroaster's "Eternal Heaven".
But Freddie did not stick to tradition entirely. As mourners filed out after his body was cremated, an operatic aria by Verdi was played. It was sung by Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe - Freddie's duet partner in the dramatic song Barcelona.
A carpet of 1,000 wreaths covered the ground outside. Dave Clark tried to comfort Mary, who is pregnant by an interior designer, as she studied messages from David Bowie, Gary Glitter, U2 and hundreds of fans. Gary's white carnation wreath was shaped like the huge star Freddie was. Freddie's parents sent white dahlias and lilies with the words: "To our very beloved son, Freddie: We love you always, Mum and Dad."
Brian May - with girlfriend Anita Dobson - wiped away a tear. Elton John gave John Deacon a hug and kissed Roger Taylor.
Fans walked away crying - left only with the now so-poignant lyrics of Freddie's anthem We Are The Champions:
"I've taken my bows. And my curtain calls. You've brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it. I thank you all."