Forgotten loves of George Michael, Freddie Mercury and Elton John: The secret women they loved
14 January 2022, 10:49 | Updated: 17 March 2023, 12:11
George Michael's ex-girlfriend, Elton John's ex-wife and Freddie Mercury's ex-fiancée were all important women in their lives and while much is known about their high profile gay relationships, less is known about the women the stars' loved.
From Freddie Mercury leaving the majority of his estate to his best friend and first love, Mary Austin, to George Michael's long term relationship with "gorgeous looking" Kathy Jeung, we explore the love stories that shaped the singers' future relationships.
Freddie Mercury's ex-fiancé Mary Austin
Freddie and Mary were so close, that at one stage Freddie asked her to marry him, and he also left her half of his £75million estate, including his £25 million Georgian mansion in Kensington.
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Although they split up as romantic partners, they remained very close friends.
Mary still lives in the West London mansion that Freddie left her, Garden Lodge, the same home where Freddie died from an AIDS-related illness in 1991 and it was only last year that she finally took down tributes to the late singer left by fans on the perimeter of the property.
Freddie first met Mary in 1969 when he was 24, five years after moving to England.
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Mary was 19-years-old and working in a West London fashion boutique - love quickly blossomed.
He dedicated the song 'Love Of My Life' to her, and proposed in 1973.
Speaking of the engagement, Mary later said: “I was speechless. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on’. It wasn’t what I’d expected at all.”
However, Freddie could not ignore his attraction to men and started having affairs.
He is said to have told her that he was bisexual in 1976. Mary later said: “I’ll never forget that moment. I remember saying to him, ‘No Freddie, I don’t think you are bisexual. I think you are gay’.”
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They soon broke up and she soon moved into a nearby flat, and Freddie started hosting wild parties. However, Mary remained close, and even worked for his management company.
She later carried out his wish to secretly scatter his ashes. While there have been various rumours about where she took the ashes, such as Kensal Green Cemetery or the cherry tree in his garden, she has never revealed the whereabouts.
George Michael's ex-girlfriend Kathy Jeung
George regularly spoke about his great love and respect for Kathy during their time together - which took place ten years before the star came out in a live television interview.
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"She’s [Kathy's] gorgeous looking but it’s really not very important because it’s always there, always available," he told Women's Own in 1987.
"In this job there’s no end of beautiful women if you want them, but in the end you learn that sex is just sex and it can never be anything more. Making love is very different," he said.
"My relationship with Kathy has changed me a lot. I’ve developed. I’ve become more directed and positive. l can concentrate more on my career and the things that are important to me without having the distraction of looking for something."
In his interview on CNN in 1998, George made a point of stressing that he had never lied in his music about his sexuality and that it wasn't until he was 27-years-old - three years after his relationship with Kathy ended - that he had first explored being in a gay relationship.
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Despite Elton John's recent claims that the 'Faith' singer was "uncomfortable" with his sexuality, George Michael was clear in interviews that he had been in love with both men and women and there was "no bullsh**" with his fans.
"I do want people to know the songs I wrote when I was with women were really about women and the songs that I've written since have been fairly obviously about men," he told CNN.
Kathy wrote about her love for George after his death on December 25, 2016 through a statement on her Instagram page.
"Like my childhood with my dad and family, I spent some of the best times of my life with George," she said.
"I can barely encompass in words what George means to me, I treasured our #specialfriendship - to just scratch the surface with no exaggeration, he was the most generous, hilarious, brilliant, talented, #truefriend," she said.
"For now I’ll just say #iloveyouyog #iloveyougeorge #alwaysinmyheart #bestfriend #ripgeaorge #yog #loveyoualways #heartbroken #lastchristmas - All my love to George’s family, dad, sisters Melanie and Yioda, his friends, especially #DavidAustin #AndrewRidegely @shirliekemp @kenny_goss - George can now be with his beautiful mom in #heaven."
Elton John's ex-wife Renate Blauel
Renate Blauel, who Elton met in 1983 when he was recording his Too Low for Zero album, soon joined the singer on his 1984 tour to Australia.
On February 10 1983, while having dinner at an Indian restaurant, Elton proposed. Renate accepted and the engagement was announced the following day, with the wedding taking place just three days later.
The ceremony was held on Valentine’s Day, when Elton was 36 and Renate was 28. Both wore white, with Elton's suit reportedly costing £1,000.
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Before this, Elton had publicly said he was bisexual in 1976, and many of his close friends were said to have been convinced he was gay.
“A drug addict thinks like this: ‘I’ve had enough boyfriends, and that’s not made me happy, so I’ll have a wife — that will change everything.’ And I loved Renate. She’s a great girl. I really, really loved her. But, you know… it is one of the things I regret most in my life, hurting her.”
His close friend and lyricist Bernie Taupin later said that he saw the wedding as Elton simply wanting to have a family. Elton's mother Sheila announced she would give the newlyweds a baby stroller as a wedding gift, according to Elton's former publicist, Caroline Boucher.
Four years later in November 1988, they couple divorced and went their separate ways.
Renate virtually disappeared from the public eye, and has never spoken publicly of the marriage since.
When the split was announced, Renate claimed that she and Elton were parting amicably, “and genuinely intend to remain best of friends.”
Elton had also been struggling with drug and alcohol addictions since before the wedding, and later compared his decision to get married to his situation in a 2008 interview with The Australian.
However it would later transpire that Renate wasn't Elton John's first brush with marriage.
Last year the singer's supposed ex-fiancée Linda Hannon opened up about her rocky relationship with the 'Rocketman' star and how he 'drunkenly' dumped her weeks before their wedding in 1970.
Linda, who still has her engagement ring said: “John Baldry and Bernie [Taupin] took Reg out for drinks at the Bag O’ Nails club in Soho and got him roaring drunk.
“They told him to call off the wedding, insisting he was going to ruin two lives, his own and mine.”
Five years after their split Elton released the song 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight', said to be about his relationship with Linda.