The history of the illness which will lead Freddie Mercury to death has been exposed by media even too much, already in the last years of his life. Queen’s leader did his best to keep that part of his life private, but the tabloids were merciless in describing the physical conditions deteriorating at every new, sporadic image.
HIV was diagnosed in 1987 and it will take four years, until November 24th, 1991, to bring him to death by a AIDS-related bronchopneumonia. But during all this time, Freddie Mercury kept the utmost secrecy about his health, refusing to issue any official statement. Until he felt death very close: the press release in which he confirmed that he had AIDS was spread just a little more than 24 hours before his death, on November 22nd, 1991.
The truth is that Freddie Mercury never gave up. Obviously he stopped the tours and also the public appearances. The last one was at the 1990 BRIT Awards, the ones below.
Freddie Mercury was weak and emaciated. He remained in the background, while Brian May, Queen’s other leader, was giving their speech. After May’s speech, Mercury approached the microphone with a serious face, just to say “Thank you, goodnight.”
The weakness of Mercury in last months of his life was impressive. There was not yet effective treatment for AIDS in those years (the real change in the medical field will be a few months after his death), and the virus was “eating” month after month the parts of his body, until (according to an interview released by Brian May) he had even to amputate his foot. Yet Mercury wanted to resist. He continued, when he could, to attend the recording studios, offering his voice for an hour or two and then giving up, exhausted. All the band members supported him as they could, of course. And they helped him to appear in the last official video of the band, These Are the Days of Our Lives, which contains the latest official images of Freddie Mercury.
Months later, Brian May recalled the filming of that video. He said that Freddie Mercury went through hours and hours of makeup, before he could give the impression of being sufficiently ok. He was extremely weak, and he took a glass of vodka from time to time to get some energy. But he wanted to be there.
In the last frames of that video you see a skinny Freddie Mercury, with sunken cheeks, raising his face to the sky, being invested by the spotlight. Then he looks down for a moment, he watches the camera with benevolent eyes and whispers his last words to his audience: “I Still Love You”.
It was May 1991. Six months later, Freddie Mercury dies in his bed in Kensington, London. Some time later, Brian May explained that “he actually says a kind of goodbye in the video.”