Mercury

  • by Lesley-Ann Jones
  • Narrated by Jane Collingwood
  • 12 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A revealing, intimate look at the man who would be Queen
As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury's unmatched skills as a songwriter and his flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar and Queen a household name. But despite his worldwide fame, few people ever really glimpsed the man behind the glittering facade.
Now, more than 20 years after his death, those closest to Mercury are finally opening up about this pivotal figure in rock 'n' roll. Based on more than a hundred interviews with key figures in his life, Mercury offers the definitive account of one man's legendary life in the spotlight and behind the scenes. Rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones gained unprecedented access to Mercury's tribe, and she details Queen's slow but steady rise to fame and Mercury's descent into dangerous, pleasure-seeking excesses - this was, after all, a man who once declared, "Darling, I'm doing everything with everyone."
In her journey to understand Mercury, Jones traveled to London, Zanzibar, and India - talking with everyone from Mercury's closest friends to the sound engineer at Band Aid (who was responsible for making Queen even louder than the other bands) to second cousins halfway around the world. In the process, an intimate and complicated portrait emerges. Meticulously researched, sympathetic yet not sensational, Mercury offers an unvarnished look at the extreme highs and lows of life in the fast lane. At the heart of this story is a man...and the music he loved.

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What the Critics Say

"Mercury goes beyond the glittering facade to get an unvarnished look at Queen's rise to fame, the loves of Mercury's life, and his fraught relationship with his conservative past, creating a complete portrait of this magnetic musician." (MetroSource)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A tattler, not well-written, yet a guilty pleasure

Let's just bite the big bad truth at the outset: This is a gossipy tattle sheet about Freddy Mercury & by extension, Queen. I was initially quite irked by the author's voice, which is that of a self-loathing hack journalist whose greatest ambition is to gawk at famous people. She boasts of having "worked as a columnist on The Sun, The Daily Mail, The News Of The World and The Sunday Express." I was about to bail on this, when I suddenly realized that I was getting direct access to a personality I've never myself encountered, and although I can't say she's at all attractive, she does channel the British underclass obsessions and anxieties. Armed with this realization, I kicked back into enjoying this guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, the book doesn't give a great deal of insight into Freddy Mercury, who remains rather enigmatic. But there's lots of quotes (the audiobook's additional quirk is that multiple actors voice the different persons quoted). There's some interesting info about Queen, e.g., that they're the only band to ever have more than one #1 single written by each of the 4 members (so, there, they're better than the Beatles, and indeed, Ms Jones states that Queen has sold more albums than the Fab 4). I was fascinated to learn that Freddy developed a close relationship with Barbara Valentin, an actress in Germany who'd been in several Fassbinder films. I ended up enjoying this romp, although it's not at all a well written book.
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- Paul Sas

Gushing to the point of being difficult to listen

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There is always the risk with celebrity bios that the author bias will veer too strongly into that of a raving fan, unfortunately, the first chapter was far too much this way for me to continue.


What could Lesley-Ann Jones have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

A more conservative and humble representation of Mercury would have been more enticing. The first chapter was so difficult to listen to that I gave up on the book mid way through the second chapter. To me, I felt the author was trying to convince readers that the pop star charitable efforts of the 80s equated them to some of the greatest leaders of that time, it was a little too much.


Would you be willing to try another one of Jane Collingwood’s performances?

Probably not


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I do think the author put a great deal of work into this. I also think die-hard fans may still enjoy this because they may share the deep love of Freddie that the author clearly has. I am a music fan and agree that Queen produced some brilliant work, I just can't get passed the gushing over all things celebrity put forward in the first chapter.


Any additional comments?

Perhaps the book changes tone, for me, I couldn't get passed the first two chapters and struggled to get through the first.

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- J. D. Nunes

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-03-2012
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio