Freddie Mercury 75th: Incredible pictures of Queen star smiling at final birthday party
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It’s hard to think of many stars more full of life and extraordinary spirit than Freddie. Even though his strength was starting to fail in 1990, he was determined to have a lavish and typically OTT birthday party. His annual celebrations had become legendary, such as the black and white drag ball in Munich, Germany, in 1985 or similarly hedonistic ones at Pikes Hotel in Ibiza. In 1986 he had a ‘hat party’ for his 40th. One annual tradition was an extravagant show-stopping cake, even in 1991, just two months before he died.
By the time of his final, 45th birthday in 1991, the star was bedbound and only had two months to live, but his friends still organised an incredible multi-layered cake, made by actress turned celebrity baker Jane Asher.
It was a lifelike recreation of his apartment building in Montreux. The Swiss city became a sanctuary where he spent many of his final months and laid down his last ever vocals for the posthumous Made In Heaven album.
In 1990, Freddie was determined celebrate his birthday in style one last time, surrounded by his dearest loved ones, including Mary Austin and Jim Hutton. In the picture below, Mary can be seen at Freddie’s right hand. The other blonde lady on his left is Austrian actress Barbara Valentin who became close to the star when he was living in Germany in the mid-1980s.
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As well as Austin and Valentin, the guests included Freddie’s live-in PA and friend Peter Freestone, his live-in chef and ex-boyfriend Joe Fanelli, his partner Jim Hutton and West End musicals star Peter Straker.
Everyone was dressed in formal wear with the men mainly in black tie. Freddie of course had to be a little different and wore a vibrant blue tuxedo.
The two closest women in his life were both dressed in white. According to their personalities, Mary was elegant and understated in a smart buttoned top with huge shoulder pads. Barbara showed off her voluptuous figure in a long dress with a plunging neckline and giant flowers embroidered rounder décolletage.
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Freddie’s friend and fellow rock star Dave Clarke, from the Dave Clarke Five, was the man at the star’s bedside when he died in November 1991. He spoke to The Express about their friendship and revealed how special that final birthday party was for everybody.
He said: “He was very artistic. He was quite shy, Freddie was. On stage, the bigger the better: he’d play to 100,000 people and he was amazing. In private, he was a lovely person, great class, great style. I mean — he had a Picasso in his bathroom. It was amazing.
“He had great, great style. And he cared about people, which was nice. You see his videos and you think he’s just totally off-the-wall but he’s not. He’s just a person.”
“I miss Freddie, like a lot of his friends do, because he made you laugh, made you smile. He was larger than life.
“We all come from the same background. But he had class and style, Freddie, no question.
“On his last birthday, he just invited 30 of his closest friends and there were 30 different courses, done by his personal chef, Joe Fanelli, and 30 different types of wine to go with each course.
Clarke perfectly summed up the night and his friend in two simple words: “Never boring.”
Over the next twelve months, Freddie’s health continued to decline. But many of those who were at the 1990 birthday party formed the core group who would care for the star and make sure he was never alone, especially in the final weeks.
Freestone told The Express: “Of course, there was a quiet atmosphere in the house during those last days, but Freddie remained the Freddie we knew until the end.”
Freddie died on November 24, 1991, but Freestone comments said: “I believe he was at peace with himself.”
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