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Freddie Mercury wrote heartbreaking final note to Elton John just days before he died

Freddie Mercury was just 45 when he died from AIDS on November 24, 1991, 30 years ago today – he had told his fans just 24 hours earlier about his illness

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Thirty years ago today, on November 24, 1991, the world lost one of the greatest frontmen there had ever been – Freddie Mercury.

After revealing to his millions of fans around the world that he was battling AIDS, Freddie passed away at home just 24 hours later aged just 45.

The Queen legend had kept his illness secret from everyone apart from those he was closest to in his inner circle.

His bandmates were aware of his condition, along with the “love of his life”, former girlfriend Mary Austin.

Fellow singer Elton John had also been told of Freddie’s diagnosis and was one of the few people able to visit the iconic frontman in his final days and weeks.

Freddie Mercury and Elton John were close friends and he was one of the few people who knew about the Queen frontman’s AIDS diagnosis

The Tiny Dancer singer has described the agony of watching his friend deteriorate before his eyes as the cruel illness ravaged his body.

Despite keeping his illness a secret, Freddie still wanted to spend time with his friend during his last days.

But Elton could only spend limited time at the Queen frontman’s bedside because he found what was happening to him so upsetting.

In his memoir, Elton wrote: “He was too frail to get out of bed, he was losing his sight, his body was covered in Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions, and yet he was still definitely Freddie, gossiping away, completely outrageous.

“I couldn’t work out whether he didn’t realise how close to death he was or if he knew perfectly well but was determined not to let what was happening to him stop him being himself.”

Freddie Mercury made sure he sent his close friend Elton John a touching Christmas present in his final days

But Elton was determined the Bohemian Rhapsody star would feel loved as his health declined against the disease.

Freddie had been one of the superstars who Elton credits with saving his life at the height of his drug problems.

Freddie begged him to go into rehab as his cocaine addiction spiralled out of control as he struggled to cope with his global fame.

And Freddie was also determined to protect his loved ones and fans from his devastating diagnosis until shortly before his death.

The extent of his illness was known only to those closest to him and back in 2017 bandmate Brian May revealed it had actually cost Freddie his foot.

Mary Austin, who Freddie Mercury described as the “love of my life” was also with him in his final days


Alan Davidson/REX/Shutterstock)

In an interview with The Sunday Times, May said: “The problem was actually his foot, and tragically there was very little left of it.

“Once, he showed it to us at dinner. And he said, ‘Oh Brian, I’m sorry I’ve upset you by showing you that’.

“And I said, ‘I’m not upset, Freddie, except to realise you have to put up with all this terrible pain’.”

And for the final two years of his life, Freddie lived in almost total seclusion.

In his final appearance in a Queen video in the same year he died, the rock powerhouse looked visibly thin and frail.

Freddie Mercury looked frail in his final public appearance with his Queen bandmates



He did finally tell his bandmates about his diagnosis but one person he refused to tell was his best friend and fellow singer, Peter Straker, and even cut him out of his list during his final years so he wouldn’t find out.

But even in his final days, Freddie was determined to think of others and spent his last days recording Queen’s final album, Made In Heaven, which was released following his death.

Freddie also bought thoughtful Christmas presents, which were delivered after he passed away.

One of them was for his close friend, Elton. It was a painting by Henry Scott Tuke, one of the Candle In The Wind singer’s favourite artists.

The piece of art was wrapped in a pillow case and was accompanied with a heartbreaking note.

Freddie Mercury with his Queen bandmates in 1985


Getty Images)

It read: “Dear Sharon, I thought you’d like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas.”

This was an adorable nod to the pair’s nicknames for one another as they had given each other drag queen names.

Elton said: “By all rights, Freddie should have spent those final days concerned only with his own comfort. But that wasn’t who he was. He truly lived for others

“Freddie had passed on November 24, 1991, and weeks after the funeral, I was still grieving. On Christmas Day, I learnt that Freddie had left me one final testament to his selflessness.

“I was moping about when a friend showed up at my door and handed me something wrapped in a pillowcase. I opened it up, and inside was a painting by one of my favourite artists, the British painter Henry Scott Tuke. And there was a note on the front from Freddie.

“Years before, Freddie and I had developed pet names for each other, our drag-queen alter egos. I was Sharon and he was Melina. Freddie’s note read, ‘Dear Sharon, I thought you’d like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas.’

“I was overcome, 44 years old at the time, crying like a child. Here was this beautiful man, dying from AIDS, and in his final days, he had somehow managed to find me a lovely Christmas present.

“As sad as that moment was, it’s often the one I think about when I remember Freddie, because it captures the character of the man. In death, he reminded me of what made him so special in life.”

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