THE SUN 28/11/91
ELTON'S SAD FAREWELL
"THANKS FOR BEING MY FRIEND, I WILL LOVE YOU ALWAYS"
said farewell to Freddie Mercury yesterday with 100 pink roses bearing the
message: "Thanks for being my friend, I will love you always."
The tribute came as rock's most outrageous performer was cremated at a service for just 35 close friends and family.
Elton was first to leave the West London funeral, tears streaming down his face. Asked if he would say anything he bit his lip and said softly: "no, I'm sorry."
Other mourners included Freddie's long-time lover Mary Austin and his father Bomi, mother Jer and sister Kashmira.
NO CHAMPERS, JUST A SIMPLE GOODBYE
Freddie Mercury's long-time minder who summed it up best.
Burly Jim Callaghan stood quietly by the chapel door and told me: "Freddie would have said 'sod it - grab a glass of champagne and let's have a party."'
But there was no champagne. For a man who sang to millions and threw parties for thousands during a wonderfully over-the-top life, it was a quiet farewell.
Less than a dozen curious passersby stood by the crematorium entrance as the vintage black Rolls carrying Freddie's coffin drove in.
The small, select band of mourners filed quietly into the chapel.
Jim Callaghan, who had been on the door at Freddie's most lavish parties, gently led the star's parents inside.
Last to go in, as he would have liked, was Freddie.
His painfully thin body, ravaged by AIDS, was carried by four bearers inside a simple light tan coffin.
A single red rose rested on top.
The contrast with his flamboyant stage appearances could not have been greater - but that was how he wanted it.
It was Freddie Mercury the pop superstar who stole the show at Live Aid in front of one billion TV viewers worldwide.
It was Frederick Bulsara the intensely private man who was laid to rest yesterday.
I Can't tell my Ricky his Uncle Freddie is Dead
Mercury's heartbroken ex-lover Mary Austin cannot bring herself to tell her
young son Ricky the star he idolised is dead.
Toddler Ricky loved to visit "Uncle Freddie" and would run from room to room of the Queen singers mansion to find him.
Mary, 38 who is expecting another baby said: "Ricky doesn't know what has happened. I haven't broken the news because he's only 20 months old.
"But I'm sure the next time Ricky goes to the house he will be looking for him, and that is going to be a very hard thing."
Freddie - who became Ricky's godfather when he was born - doted on the youngster and often played with him at his £4million home in Kensington, West London.
Mary went on: "They always got on very well together. But I realise that my next port of call will be to introduce Ricky to an empty house.
"I don't know when that will be. It will be whenever the moment feels right.
"I worry about the affect Freddie's death will have on Ricky, but I'd like for him to look back on this with a smile and not with sadness."
Mary had a seven year live-in relationship with Freddie before they broke up in 1980.
lives nearby with her husband Piers Cameron, an interior designer.
But Mary remained the only woman Freddie ever loved and was at his bedside until 10 minutes before he died from AIDS on Sunday.
Yesterday she spent an hour in the empty house and left in tears after re-living her memories.
She went there with Dave Clark after attending Freddie's cremation service.
Dave said: "It was a very lovely service and a very emotional one. I thing Freddie would have appreciated it."
Tearful fans continued to deliver bunches of flowers and elaborate wreaths to the singer's home.
In contrast to the flamboyance which was Freddie's stage trademark, his farewell was a low-key affair.
Only his family and close friends attended.
The 20-minute funeral was conducted by two Indian Parsee priests in the Zoroastrian faith of the star's parents Bomi and Jer Bulsara.
It was performed in the ancient tongue of Avasta which dates back to 1,500 years before Christ.
Traditionally dead Parsees are left to be picked clean by vultures, but in Britain they are buried or cremated.
family members gathered earlier at a chapel of rest in Kensington for a 60
minute service of their own.
Mourners wept as the chapel echoed to the records Precious Lord Take My Hand, and You've Got A Friend by soul singer Aretha Franklin.
An Aria by opera star Montserrat Caballe, with whom Freddie recorded the hit single Barcelona, was also played.
As the stars stood with their heads bowed, the family approached the casket to pay their last respects.
When the doors finally opened, Elton John and lead guitarist Brian May were seen sobbing in each others arms.
Lead guitarist Brian May and his live-in lover, former Eastenders star Anita Dobson, sent a wreath and message saying: "To Dearest Freddie, with love for ever."
Most poignant of all the tributes and messages was a wreath of yellow roses from Mary Austin with a declaration which said: "For my dearest with my deepest love. Your old faithful."
She brought another for her son saying "To Uncle Freddie with love from your Ricky."
One of the most touching, from Queen drummer Roger Taylor, said simply: "Goodbye old friend, peace at last."
Boy George's tribute said: "Dear Freddie, I love you."
David Bowie sent a wreath of yellow roses with a message: "Will be missed."
Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara sent a message which read: "To Freddie with love."
And veteran rocker Gary Glitter said: "Sadly missed, never forgotten."
Only two fans found out where the service was and traveled from Leeds to pay their respects.
Jan Hall and Liz Carster, both in their thirties, sobbed uncontrollably as they said: "He was Freddie - and there is only one Freddie.
"He can never be replaced. We never met him but his music brought us so much happiness for so many years."