Seven things you never knew about the rock legends
Legendary rock photographer Mick Rock has worked with everyone from David Bowie to Cee-Lo Green. And as one of the first people to photograph Queen he knows the band a lot better than most.
Ziggy Stardust comparisons were once the way to their heart. When we first met, I didn’t know their music. They played me the acetate for Queen II, and I responded ‘Woah, Ziggy Stardust meets Led Zeppelin!’ The right words had obviously come out of my mouth, so we went on to work together.
Their confidence was as immense as Lady Gaga’s. Even early on, they knew they’d be a big deal. It was like when I first met David Bowie in early ’72, before the release of Ziggy Stardust. He emanated this confidence. And, in more recent times, so did Lady Gaga, who I first shot about six months before she broke out. She told me, ‘In a few months, I’m gonna be huge.’ With those three acts, I always remember the confidence, the belief.
Freddie’s domestic tastes were initially quite restrained. He had a little flat near the Shepherd’s Bush roundabout with Mary [an early girlfriend of his, who would later care for him in his last days]. It was small, but homely and cosy. Mary would bring cups of tea and cakes. It was all very cute.
Freddie was a Joni Mitchell fan. He loved Joni Mitchell. When Court and Spark came out, he insisted on playing it to me several times and extolling the virtues of her vocalisations. Freddie Mercury and Joni Mitchell seems an unlikely thing, but it’s true.
One of The Village People inspired Freddie’s leather flatcap period. He got that look from the guy who ended up in The Village People – the little guy with the cap, shorts and suspenders. There was a club in New York where he used to dance on the bar.
That infamous Queen II covershot nearly didn’t happen. It was inspired by a picture of Marlene Dietrich from the set of Shanghai Express, and Freddie got quite excited about that connection. Some of the band thought that a white image should go on the front, but, in those early days, if Freddie really wanted something with the visuals, they would acquiesce. He had been to art college, after all.
Roger Taylor had a way with the ladies. He was a babe magnet. He was very cute. You’ve only got to look at the pictures of him back then. He was the most obviously classically pretty, rock ’n’ roll of them. They were all cute by any standards, but Roger… yeah, he liked the girls, no doubt about it.