Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury was the epitome of eccentricity, sex, love and rock and roll in the 1970s and 1980s. His band was one of the most renowned in the world — up until 1991, when the star’s sudden death shocked the nation, and his bandmates.
Just in time for the new Bohemian Rhapsody film, REELZ’s docuseries, Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender, is giving viewers a look back at Mercury’s fast-paced life, secret struggles and declining health.
“We blanked out his illness. It was like, ‘Well, clearly he’s ill, but he’ll be alright because it’s Fred,'” recalls Peter Hince, Mercury’s roadie.
As OK!Magazine.com readers know, Mercury was diagnosed with HIV about seven years before his death. Though the singer — who was in a relationship with Jim Hutton from 1985 until his tragic end — never openly spoke of his condition, most people who knew him suspected something was very wrong.
On one of his last shows, Mercury started off strong, but couldn’t make it to the end with his usual vocal strength and liveliness.
“I knew he was ill, but I didn’t know specifically with what. But you obviously thought you knew,” Hince added, suggesting that those close to Mercury suspected it was AIDS.
In November of 1991, Mercury released a shocking statement admitting his condition. Less than 24 hours later, he died.
Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender airs Monday 11/5 at 10 ET / PT.