When Freddie received his HIV diagnosis, he reacted in the most incredible way. Peter Freestone was the Queen legend’s PA for the last 12 years of his life. He lived with Freddie at One Garden Lodge and was there in his final hours. In an exclusive interview with Express Online, he described some of the extraordinary moments in the final few years and how Freddie was determined to live fully until the end doing what he loved most.
Peter describes Freddie’s reaction to his diagnosis: “He said, ‘Never regret anything. You’re wasting time when you can’t change it. Get on with what you want to do.
“He thought he was sick in 1986 and it was confirmed in 1987. He didn’t get depressed. He wasn’t afraid. It was a fact he was going to die. In those days there was absolutely nothing could change that.
“So he got on with his music. He did so much in those last four years.”
And one thing, in particular, brought Freddie incredible joy and pride.
Freddie’s love of opera was well known. It was even shown in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.
He would attend the opera whenever he could but also play arias at home, either alone or when friends came around.
His collaboration with one of opera’s greatest legends, Montserrat Caballe, on the track Barcelona and subsequent album was an iconic musical moment but also extremely special to Freddie.
Peter remembers: “After he got Montserrat Caballe to sing with him, what more could he want? That was the nearest I’ve seen him to tears, after her first take on the first track. He was so happy. He said to me, ‘The greatest voice in the world is singing my music.’”
The extraordinary thing was Freddie was far more famous than Caballe, but he never regarded himself that highly.
Peter says: “He knew he was good and he had written some good stuff. But he never put himself in the same category as his idols like Elvis and John Lennon.
“He put them on a pedestal but never himself.”
In fact, Peter remembers Freddie used to joke about his own songs: “He used to say, ‘It’s like a tissue, you pick it, you use it, you throw it away.’ I think he was being a bit flippant but he never thought or wanted people to live their lives by his music.”
Peter is promoting the new box set Never Boring, which collects all of Freddie’s solo works, as well as rare and unseen photos, sketches, notes and thoughts. Out now.