They are some of the biggest names in music history but legends like Freddie Mercury and Axl Rose not only drew the admiration of their peers, they also worshipped their heroes. The Guns ‘n Roses frontman turns 58 today and spoke powerfully about the enormous influence Freddie had on his childhood. He calls the Queen icon “the greatest teacher” in his life. Before he was famous, Freddie also found inspiration in another star who died too young.
Axl said: “For me, it’s easy – Queen is greatest band and Freddie is the greatest frontman of all time. The band are the greatest because they embraced so many different styles…
“If I hadn’t had Freddie Mercury’s lyrics to hold on to as a kid I don’t know where I would be.
“It taught me about all forms of music… it would open my mind. I never really had a bigger teacher in my whole life.”
Axl, of course, was one of the many superstar performers who came together in 1992 to pay tribute to Freddie at a special concert.
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Axl Rose and Elton John at the 1992 Freddie Mercury tribute concert
Freddie Mercury: Axl Rose tribute
At the Concert For Life on April 20, 1992, Axl Rose sang We Will Rock You.
He also joined the surviving three Queen members Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor, along with Elton John for an emotional rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Freddie himself, hero-worshipped one of the greatest icons of all time, following the star across the country to see him perform whenever he could.
Freddie Mercury wanted to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix
When Mercury was still Farrokh Bulsara, an art and design student (and aspiring musician) at Ealing Art College in the late 1960s, he kept a photograph of the flamboyant Jimi Hendrix on his bedroom mirror for inspiration.
He even wanted to be a guitarist like his idol but realised he would never be good enough and concentrated on the piano.
Years later, Freddie said: “Jimi Hendrix was just a beautiful man, a master showman and a dedicated musician. I would scour the country to see him, whenever he played, because he really had everything any rock’n’roll star should have; all the style and presence”
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Freddie added: “He (Hendrix) didn’t have to force anything. He’d just make an entrance and the whole place would be on fire.
“He was living out everything I wanted to be. Hendrix is very important. He’s my idol. He sort of epitomises, with his presentation on stage, the whole works of a rock star.
“There’s no way you can compare him to anyone and there’s nobody who can take his place.”
Hendrix died tragically young in London on 18 September 1970. The extraordinary singer, guitarist and performer was just 27.
Ironically, one of his greatest fans was just starting his own journey towards legend and immortality.
In April 1970, Mercury joined Smile, the band of Brian May and Roger Taylor, as lead singer. The following year they enlisted John Deacon and Queen was born.
Just imagine what might have happened if Freddie and Jimi had ever been able to meet at the height of their powers…