Remembering Freddie Mercury's incredible final performance with Queen - video

21 February 2020, 14:46 | Updated: 21 February 2020, 14:55

Freddie Mercury's final concert with Queen was on August 9, 1986
Freddie Mercury's final concert with Queen . Picture: Youtube

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

Freddie Mercury's iconic last concert with Queen saw the star perform classics including Radio Ga Ga and Bohemian Rhapsody at Knebworth Park in the summer of 1986.

Performing in front of an crowd of 120,000, the August 9 concert was the final date of the band's highly successful Magic Tour and the last time the band would ever play with live with Freddie Mercury.

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The band's line-up featured all four original members of Queen - Brian May, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor - six years before Freddie's untimely death from AIDS and eleven years before John Deacon would quit the band.

As none of Queen knew it would be their last time performing together, the Knebworth Park concert would become one of the band's most famous concerts - with Freddie Mercury's military yellow jacket becoming the most iconic lasting image of the singer's career.

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The video begins with the run-up to the big concert, showing the staff preparing the grounds and footage of the audience as they begin to stream into the venue.

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Filmed on a hot August day, the footage shows incredible aerial shots of Queen's helicopter taking off from Battersea helipad, circling the Thames and flying over Battersea Power Station as the band made their way way 30 miles north of London to the Hertfordshire venue.

Freddie Mercury  arrives at the Knebworth Festival by helicopter, 9th August 1986
Freddie Mercury arrives at the Knebworth Festival by helicopter, 9th August 1986. Picture: Getty
The August 9, 1986 concert was the final date of the band's highly successful Magic Tour
Knebworth Park was the final date of the band's highly successful Magic Tour. Picture: Getty

Shown landing and exiting the helicopter - creating what is now a famous shot of Freddie in his Hawaiian shirt and aviator sunglasses - the band make their way to the backstage area as roadies and other members of staff excitedly set up around them.

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Queen's keyboard player Spike Edney recently told Rolling Stone that the helicopter journey was such a highlight for the band that is caused them to miss the backstage after party.

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"The end of tour party was a huge fairground filled with topless models," he recalls, yet: "[Queen] was so pleased and loved the helicopter ride in so much, that as soon as the gig was over, they took the helicopter ride out."

Freddie Mercury performing live on stage at Knebworth on August 9, 1991
Freddie Mercury performing live on stage at Knebworth on August 9, 1991. Picture: Getty
Queen performed their greatest hits in front of a crowd of 120,000
Queen performed their greatest hits in front of a crowd of 120,000. Picture: Getty

The 1986 video then shows incredible footage of Freddie backstage in his dressing room asking someone off camera how long until showtime ("Ten minutes," comes the reply) before the star launches into an acapella performance.

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The singer's high energy is palpable as he sings a range of scales and performs voice exercises, showing off his impressive range of vocals before Roger Taylor enters the shot and joins Freddie in an impromptu duet.

Brian May and Freddie Mercury performing live on stage at Knebworth Park
Brian May and Freddie Mercury performing live on stage at Knebworth Park. Picture: Getty

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The shot then changes to Freddie on stage in front of the 120,000 strong audience and goes on to show the star performing a variety of hits in front of the huge crowd.

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The Knebworth Park concert had a setlist of the band's greatest hits including 'One Vision', 'Radio Ga Ga', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', 'We Will Rock You', 'I Want To Break Free', various guitar solos and a rousing final rendition of 'God Save The Queen'.

Freddie Mercury holding a union jack flag at the end of the August 9 concert
Freddie Mercury holding a union jack flag at the end of the August 9 concert. Picture: Getty

While Queen would continue to record in private right up to Freddie's death, the band's Knebworth Park performance was their last with their star singer at the helm, but not their last public appearance.

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Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May joined a fragile Freddie Mercury on stage at the 1990 Brits Awards for what would be the star's last public outing before his death on November 24, 1991.

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