Freddie at Knebworth

Freddie Mercury’s Incredible Final Performance With Queen

Sujan Tamang 

Freddie Mercury performed hits like Radio Ga Ga and Bohemian Rhapsody at Knebworth Park in the summer of 1986 during his legendary final performance with Queen.

The band’s tremendously successful Magic Tour came to an end on August 9, when they played live for the last time with Freddie Mercury in front of an audience of 120,000 people.

It was six years before Freddie Mercury’s tragic death from AIDS and eleven years before John Deacon departed from the band that the band’s original four members Brian May, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, and Roger Taylor were in the lineup.

The Knebworth Park concert turned into one of the band’s most well-known performances, with Freddie Mercury’s military yellow jacket emerging as the most enduring image of the singer’s career. None of the Queen realized it would be their final performance together.

The film starts with images of the audience streaming into the venue and the personnel setting up the grounds in the lead-up to the major concert. Captured on a hot August day, the film features amazing overhead views of Queen’s helicopter taking off from Battersea helipad, passing over Battersea Power Station, and circling the Thames as the band traveled 30 miles north of London to the Hertfordshire location.

Spike Edney, the keyboardist for Queen, recently revealed to Rolling Stone that the band missed the backstage after-party since the helicopter ride was such a thrill. He said, “The end of tour party was a huge fairground filled with topless models, [Queen] was so pleased and loved the helicopter ride in so much, that as soon as the gig was over, they took the helicopter ride out.”

The 1986 film then features amazing backstage footage of Freddie in his dressing room, asking an off-camera person how long it would be till showtime (“Ten minutes,” is the response), right before the celebrity breaks into an acapella performance.

Before Roger Taylor enters the frame and joins Freddie in an unexpected duet, the singer’s tremendous enthusiasm is evident as he sings a variety of scales and exercises his voice, showcasing his impressive range of vocals.

Following this, the camera pans to Freddie playing live in front of the boisterous 120,000 spectators, showcasing his wide range of hits.

The band’s biggest singles, such as “One Vision,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Will Rock You,” and “I Want To Break Free,” were included in the Knebworth Park setlist. There were also several guitar solos and a thunderous performance of “God Save The Queen” at the end.

Even though Queen would keep recording in secret until Freddie passed away, their performance at Knebworth Park was their final one with their lead singer, however, it wasn’t their last time performing in front of an audience.

At the 1990 Brit Awards, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, and Brian May joined a frail Freddie Mercury on stage for what would be his final public appearance before his death on November 24, 1991.

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