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Remembering Freddie Mercury’s Final Public Appearance

The 11th Brit Awards took place on February 18, 1990. One of the most memorable moments was the legendary band Queen receiving the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Unfortunately, many did not realize that it would be the last public appearance of Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury.

At the event, the severity of Mercury’s condition was unknown to the public. Only close members of the band were aware. On stage, Freddie used heavy makeup to cover signs of his illness due to AIDS.

Brian May revealed that they were not fully aware of how sick Freddie was for many years. He expressed,

We didn’t know actually what was wrong for a very long time. We never talked about it and it was a sort of unwritten law that we didn’t, because Freddie didn’t want to. He just told us that he wasn’t up to doing tours, and that’s as far as it went. Gradually, I suppose in the last year and a bit, it became obvious what the problem was, or at least fairly obvious. We didn’t know for sure.”

During the ceremony, Freddie Mercury made a brief appearance to accept the ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Music’ award. Brian May spoke on behalf of Queen that evening. It was during this event that Freddie approached the microphone, quietly thanking everyone with the words, “Thank you … goodnight.”

His illness was kept private until November 22, 1991, when he publicly disclosed his diagnosis. He passed away the following day. A friend of Freddie, David Wigg, discussed why Freddie kept his condition a secret for so long during a BBC documentary, Freddie Mercury: A Life in Ten Pictures. David recalled,

“I noticed he had lost weight and he had a mark on his cheek that was apparently one of those marks (Kaposi’s sarcoma) you can get when you get HIV.” Freddie then confided,

“I have almost become a nun. I thought sex was very important to me and I lived for sex and now I’ve completely gone the other way It’s frightened me to death. I’ve stopped having sex. David this is very difficult I will tell you as a friend but you have to promise you will not put this in our article.”

David responded, ”Right, you are saying to me you have had a test?’ (And Freddie said) ‘Yes. And I am HIV.’ Freddie continued to hope for a possible cure and that his medication would provide some relief.

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