Michael Jackson idolised Freddie Mercury but he fled recording session
Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985
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It should have been one of the dream collaborations of all time, and almost resulted in the Queen star being on the Thriller album. Originally it was MJ who pursued Freddie. Rolling Stone reported that when Jackson was spotted backstage at a Queen show in Los Angeles and asked if he was a fan of the band, he replied: “I’m a Freddie Mercury fan.”
In a powerful interview in 1983 with Lisa Robinson, Freddie opened up about their friendship, their hopes of recording music together and why he could never live like Michael.
He said: “In the early days, three, four years ago, he used to come and see our shows at the Forum in LA. I guess he likes us. So I got to meet him and he kept coming to see us. We started talking. I remember going to dinner with him.”
A Rolling Stone article at the time described a scene backstage at one of Queen’s Los Angeles shows, at which MJ was a frequent guest.
The article said: “The band is merry. Michael is shy, standing quietly at the door until Freddie spots him and leaps up to gather him in a hug. Freddie invited Michael. He has been calling all week, mainly about the possibility of their working together.
“The two have been friendly since Michael listened to the material Queen had recorded for The Game and insisted that the single had to be Another One Bites the Dust.”
Apparently, Jackson told the crowd, “Now, he listens to me. Right, Freddie?” Mercury replied, “Righto, little brother.”
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Freddie later told Radio One the reason they were drawn together was that were so different in personality and musical style: “I guess maybe that is the attraction.
“We still have unfinished works of art in the vault. They haven’t come to fruition. In the early days, he used to like Queen and come and see all our concerts and we became friends and he said ‘Why don’t we do something together?’
“This was just before the Thriller days. I went over to his house and did three or four demos to see how they’d work out.”
Freddie was always the first to admit he could sometimes be a diva, but he soon discovered some aspects of Jackson’s life were too much for him to handle.
One track was intended for Thriller as a duet with Freddie but the Queen star had to pull out. He later said: “State of Shock I couldn’t complete, so Mick Jagger did it. I actually did the vocals. Timing is everything.”
In the official explanation he said: “At the time when he wanted me to finish it, I just said, ‘I can’t, I really haven’t got time.’ I was working with Queen. I was in Munich, he was in Los Angeles. He said, ‘Is it OK if Mick does it?’ I said, ‘Fine.'”
However, Queen’s manager Jim Beach described a rather different scenario.
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Beach recalled: “Mercury rang me and said, ‘Miami, dear, can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.'”
Miami, of course, was Freddie’s nickname for the manager, a riff on his surname.
He doubled down on the anecdote on the documentary The Great Pretender: “Freddie said, ‘You have to get me out of the studio…”
Asked why, Freddie hilariously said: “Because I’m recording with a llama. Michael’s bringing his pet llama into the studio every day and I’m really not used to it, and I’ve had enough and I want to get out.”
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