Freddie Mercury read Elton John to absolute filth backstage at Live Aid

Freddie Mercury and Elton John

Freddie Mercury stole the show at Live Aid – and read Elton John to filth while he was at it.

Queen’s Live Aid set – once voted the greatest rock concert ever – cemented Mercury’s reputation as one of the most formidable showmen in the world. But it also served as a showcase for one of his other talents – his startling wit.

In 2019 Elton John shared his favourite memory of his friend in an interview where his other celebrity pals asked him questions for The Guardian.

Reflecting on an exchange they had backstage at Live Aid, which took place on 13 July, 1985, he said: “I had a huge area that I kind of decorated.

“I made sure there were seats for everyone, so that people who were playing could sit down and have a natter.

“Freddie came over after Queen had stolen the show. I said, ‘Freddie, nobody should go on after you – you were magnificent.’ He said: ‘You’re absolutely right, darling, we were – we killed them.’ He was so excited.

Where did you get that absolutely awful hat?

“Then he said, ‘You, on the other hand, dear – you looked like the f**king Queen Mother when you were on stage. Where did you get that absolutely awful hat?’”

John wasn’t offended by the exchange, but said the comment was “very Freddie”.

(Steve Jennings/WireImage)

(Steve Jennings/WireImage)

“He was hilarious. Even when he was dying, he was exactly the same. He was lying in bed, too weak to stand, losing his sight, going: ‘Have you heard Mrs Bowie’s new album, darling? What does she think she’s doing?’ I always had the best time with him.”

Freddie Mercury ‘would have thought Arsenal was something to do with sex’

Elton John also spoke about Freddie Mercury when asked by Billie Jean King if he would ever create a “championship” song that would become a sports anthem.

“Billie Jean has always gone on about ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen being the ultimate sports songs,” John said.

“I couldn’t ask Bernie to sit down and write a lyric like that – he’s not that kind of writer.

“To be honest, ‘We Are The Champions’ can’t be beaten: it’s so good at what it does, any sport can use it. Queen had that market sewn up, which was hysterical, because Freddie Mercury hated sport; he knew nothing about it at all. If you’d mentioned Arsenal to Freddie, he’s have thought it was something to do with gay sex.”