Freddie Mercury vs Crowd: When the Queen frontman challenged his fans to a spine-tingling sing-off
14 January 2021, 13:27 | Updated: 14 January 2021, 13:37
Freddie Mercury was performing with Queen in Milton Keynes in 1982 when he sat down on the edge of the stage and gave an incredible 'call and repeat' session with the delighted crowd.
What does it take to be the best live performer of all time? If you ask fans and music critics, the answer is usually the star's ability to connect with a crowd and when it came to Freddie Mercury, he was an entertainer like no other.
Famous for his mid-concert 'call and repeat' sessions, Freddie delighted his fans at almost every live show by singing acapella to the audience and pausing for them to mimic him and sing back.
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The Queen frontman was prolific in his interaction with fans and in one particular moment in 1982 sticks out above the rest.
Queen were playing a concert at Milton Keynes Bowl in Buckinghamshire on June 5 when he proclaimed to the crowd that he felt "positively knackered" and proceeded to sit on the edge of the stage, dangling his feet down into the darkness of the audience.
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Dressed in his trademark white jeans, tank top and white nike trainers, Freddie Mercury spoke into his famous bottomless microphone stand, saying to the crowd: "Ok everybody, let's play a game!"
Freddie then began to show off his full four-octave vocal range as he sang snippets of notes to the crowd and gestured for them to sing back.
See more: Hear Freddie Mercury’s incredible acapella voice in backstage video from last Queen concert
The camera then pans to an image of a tiny Freddie Mercury, feet dangling over the edge of the stage and surrounded by darkness, with only the sounds of an invisible roaring crowd singing every note back to him for company.
The star continues the sine-tingling 'call and repeat' session with the audience, with the camera panning between close-ups of a delighted Freddie and shots of the screaming crowd, before the Queen frontman gets on his feet for his acapella finale and starts preparing for the next song.
See more: Freddie Mercury sings to 'soulmate' Mary Austin in touching footage from 1986 - video
Queen were famous for including the crowd in their performances and wrote specific rock anthems with the sole purpose of connecting with fans.
See more: Backstage pass: Snapshots of Freddie Mercury's weird and wonderful life on tour
1977's 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions' are song famous for their crowd-pleasing interactivity – the former a clapping and stomping masterpiece and the latter a heart-warming anthem of inclusion.
Brian May has since spoken about the magic of Freddie's performances plus the music that connected so heavily with fans, was the perfect recipe for success.
See more: Freddie Mercury and Brian May's private hotel jam session from 1986 is magnificent
"Freddie made the last person at the back of the furthest stand in a stadium feel that he was connected," he said in 2011 on what would have been Mercury's 65th birthday.
"He gave people proof that a man could achieve his dreams - made them feel that through him they were overcoming their own shyness, and becoming the powerful figure of their ambitions. And he lived life to the full. He devoured life."
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The moment in Milton Keynes is the perfect example of why other famous musicians say they look to Freddie's extraordinary abilities as a performer for inspiration.
After the star's death from AIDS in 1991, numerous stars spoke publicly about Freddie Mercury's greatness and the influence he has had on their lives.
See more: This footage of Queen's first ever recorded performance is sensational - video
The Who lead singer Roger Daltrey said: "When we lost Freddie, we not only lost a great personality, a man with a great sense of humour, a true showman, but we lost probably the best.
"The best virtuoso rock 'n' roll singer of all time. He could sing anything in any style.
See more: When Queen, George Michael, Seal and Liza Minelli sang a heartfelt tribute to Freddie Mercury
"He could change his style from line to line and, god, that's an art. And he was brilliant at it."
"Freddie was one of the élite few who could really set a stadium straight," said Francis Rossi from Status Quo. "Along with millions of fans throughout the world, I will miss his exceptional performance and brilliant voice."
See more: Freddie Mercury's death: Longtime assistant shares beautiful untold stories of the star's final days
Elton John sung the star's praises, saying: "Freddie is a real one off and at that time nobody looked like him, sang like him with the harmonies and everything."
David Bowie added: "Of all the more theatrical performers, Freddie took it further than the rest. He took it over the edge. And of course I always admire a man who wears tights!
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"I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand."
And Lady Gaga – who named herself after Queen's famous song 'Radio Gaga' – has summed up Freddie's influence in the years since his death.
"Freddie was unique, one of the biggest personalities in pop music.
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"He was not only a singer but also a fantastic performer, a man of theatre and someone who constantly transformed himself. In short, a genius."