Reviewed by Lori McAnnally
LORI MCANNALLY, an avid reader and writer, resides in Roanoke.
I don’t consider myself a huge fan of the rock band Queen, although I can sing along to every word of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and I must admit I enjoy rocking out to “Fat Bottom Girls” occasionally.
I do love rock star biographies, however, so I was excited to receive Lesley-Ann Jones’ book about Freddie Mercury. Fans of Mercury and/or Queen will appreciate the music journalist’s commitment to thoroughness, though I found it a bit long-winded at times. She writes well and with purpose, even though she was short on the promised intimate details in portions of Mercury’s life.
The book gets off to a good start with Mercury’s childhood, but the story becomes patchy and vague as the book progresses. Jones fills the gaps by offering copious detail on the terms of Queen’s record deals and business affairs. This may prove to be boring to all but the most diehard Queen fans.
Celebrity biographers tend to belong to one of two camps: Those intent on digging up any and all smut in order to destroy the image fans hold dear, or those who portray the subject as a demigod, glossing over the less attractive elements of the celebrity’s life while exaggerating the positives.
Jones does an excellent job of staying away from either of these two extremes. She handles the more unsavory details of Mercury’s life with a respect and dignity. While the author clearly considered Mercury a friend, she maintains a professional distance in her writing.
She makes no excuses for his reckless behavior while at the same time offering some insight into the reasons behind his descent into utter hedonism. While she alludes to Mercury’s sexual excesses, she avoids going into graphic detail, which makes this biography a good choice for a fan wanting to know his story without all of the seedy particulars.
While there are many photos, they lack variety, with several shots taken at a single event.
Although I recognize that this is a biography of Freddie Mercury and not Queen, I would have enjoyed more photos of the band, or at least of Freddie withhis bandmates. In the text, I found certain events were repeated numerous times in multiple chapters and that some chapters needed to be whittled down.