Freddie Mercury sings Love of My Life at Wembley in 1986
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Freddie released his debut album Mr Bad Guy on April 29, 1985 and instantly made his cats world famous. The front cover showed the Queen star looking moodily magnificent in mirrored sunglasses. He had famously been living and recording in Munich, throwing himself into the hardcore gay leather and party scene. And yet, in typical Freddie fashion, the back cover credits name his beloved cats.
On the album sleevenotes Freddie first mentions his Queen bandmates Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. He thanks Mary Austin and his then boyfriend Winnie Kirchberger, as well as German actress and friend Barbara Valentin.
But the final lines have gone down in rock history: “This album is dedicated to my cat Jerry – also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe – screw everybody else!”
Just as famous is one of Freddie’snotoriously outrageous commenst about who he would leave his vast fortune to – said at a time when he coudln’t know that he would die tragically young.
He said: “There have only been two individuals who have given back as much love to me as I gave to them: Mary, with whom I had a long affair, and our cat, Jerry. My bond with Mary seems to grow and grow.”
“If I go first, I’m going to leave everything to her. Nobody else gets a penny, except my cats.”
Jerry along with (naturally) Tom were the first two cats that Freddie and Mary shared when they were together from 1970 to 1976.
During that time Freddie started the lifelong habit of calling home when he was on tour just to speak to his cats. Whoever was hiome had to hold the cats up to the speakere and would often squeeze them so they made sound the Queen star could hear.
After they split up, Mary gave Freddie Tiffany, a beautiful blue thoroughbred, the only pedifgree cat he would own.
Freddie himself preferred to rescue cats and kittens from animal shelters like the Blue Cross.
Freddie eventually owned ten cats and six of them were with him at home at One Garden Lodge in his final days – Delilah, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar and Romeo.
The cats lived a pampered life, fed freshly prepared fish and chicken every days, and each had their own Christmas stocking every year filled with treats and toys.
The last-ever pictures of Freddie in his garden, taken by his partner Jim Huttton three months before his death, shows ginger tom Oscar by his side. It was a beautiful August day and Jim was photographing flowers when Freddie surprised him. The star’s health had been fading but he had dressed himself in a smart outfit and tidied his hair.
Jim later said: “He posed while I took four pictures, and he managed a smile for each. He was so pale and drawn that he knew he didn’t look his best, but it didn’t matter a bit; of all the pictures I have of Freddie, those are the ones I love most.”
The final picture of the star, taken by friend and PA Peter Freestone just weeks before the end, show him in bed with Miko and Delilah.
Peter said: Delilah was the one, you actually see him looking at her. She was his favourite, She was the queen. It’s sad because where you see him sitting, that’s where he died. So it was the beginning of the end.”
Peter revealed Delilah was the notorious diva of the house: “She was a..hmmm.. I think the word is spoiled. She got everything she wanted. It wasn’t in fact a Chippendale suite she peed on. In the dining room, one wall was windows, floor to ceiling, and he had these amazing racing green satin curtains that wood cover the whole wall and a series of golden arches along the bottom where Delilah had been. She was allowed.. He would do anything for all of his cats.”
Freddie also wrote the song Delilah for her, althought it was those curtains and not the Chippendale furniture mentioned in the lyrics that she had peed on.
Peter Freestone said of Delilah: “He wouldn’t do anything without her.”
The star spent hours painting her and, in his final days when he couldn’t leave his bed and drifted in and out of consciousness, “one of his final actions was stroking her fur.”
Freddie died on Novermber 24, 1991. There were some major surprises in his will, with Jim in particular, unhappy and writing later in his autobiography Mercury and Me that he had been promised the house.
In the end, Freddie did not leave any of his fortune directly to his cats.
Mary received One Garden Lodge and the adjoining property, plus his current fortune and half of his future earnings. The other half was split between Freddie’sparemts and sister. Jim, Peter and Joe Fanelli (the star’ sformer boyfriend and live-in chef) each received £500,000 (£1.1million in today’s money).
Since Freddie entrusted his most personal wishes to Mary, including the secret burial of his ashes, it is safe to assue he asked he to look after the six cats whe she moved into One Garden Lodge. Although, in the end, there were only five.
Peter later said of Oscar: “He ruled the roost. Until when Fred died, he just left. He left the house. He didn’t want to stay there anymore.”
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