Elton John, who celebrates his 75th birthday today, was close friends with Freddie Mercury and was one of the few people to see the legendary Queen frontman in his final days
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Elton John was one of the few people Freddie Mercury saw in his final days.
The legendary Queen frontman had a close circle of friends before tragically losing his battle with AIDS in 1991, including the Rocketman singer.
Elton, who turns 75 today, described the agony of watching his friend decay before his eyes as the cruel disease ravaged his body.
“I had seen what the disease had done to so many of my other friends,” Elton explained in his 2013 book. “I knew exactly what it was going to do to Freddie. Just like him. He knew death, agonizing death, was coming.”
The couple were incredibly close and Elton credits Freddie with saving his life at the height of his drug problems – with the Queen singer imploring him to go to rehab when his cocaine addiction got out of hand.
Freddie was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987 but kept it a secret for as long as possible because he wanted to protect his fans and loved ones – and made it public just a day before his death aged just 45.
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The devastated Elton was only able to spend limited time at the Queen frontman’s bedside because he was so harrowing at what was happening to him.
In his memoir, Elton wrote: “He was too frail to get out of bed, he was losing his sight, his body was covered with Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions, and yet he was definitely Freddie, gossiping, utterly outrageous.
“I couldn’t figure out if he didn’t know how close he was to death, or if he knew full well but was determined not to let what was happening to him stop him from being himself.”
But Elton was determined that the Bohemian Rhapsody star would feel loved as his health deteriorated with the illness.
The extent of his illness was known only to those closest to him, and in 2017 bandmate Brian May revealed it had actually cost Freddie his foot.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, May said: “The problem was actually his foot and tragically there was very little left of it.
“Once he showed us at dinner. And he said, ‘Oh Brian, I’m sorry I upset you by showing you this’.
“And I said, ‘I’m not upset, Freddie, except to realize you’re going through all this terrible pain’.”
For the last two years of his life, Freddie lived in almost complete seclusion, looking visibly thin and frail when he last appeared in a Queen video.
He eventually told his bandmates about his diagnosis, but one person he refused was his best friend and fellow singer Peter Straker, even crossing him off his list in his final years so he wouldn’t find out.
Even in his final days, Freddie was determined to think of others and spent his final days recording Queen’s final album, Made In Heaven, which was released after his death.
Freddie also bought thoughtful Christmas gifts to be delivered after his death, including one for his close friend Elton.
Elton opened his front door and saw that a friend was carrying a gift from Freddie in a pillowcase.
It was a painting by Henry Scott Tuke, one of the Candle In The Wind singer’s favorite artists, and was accompanied by a heartbreaking note.
It read: “Dear Sharon, I thought you would like this. Love, Melina. Merry Christmas.”
This was an adorable nod to the couple’s nicknames, as they had given each other drag queen names.
Elton admitted he was overcome with emotion and started “crying like a child”.
He said: “Freddie really should have just spent these last few days with his own well-being. But that wasn’t who he was. He really lived for others
“Freddie had died on November 24, 1991 and weeks after the funeral I was still grieving. On Christmas Day I learned that Freddie had left me a final testimony of his selflessness.
“I was sad when a friend showed up at my door and gave me something in a pillowcase. I opened it and inside was a painting by one of my favorite artists, British painter Henry Scott Tuke. And there was a note on the front of Freddie.
“Years ago, Freddie and I 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 would like this. With love, Melina. Merry Christmas.’
“I was overwhelmed, then 44 years old, and I cried like a child. Here was this beautiful man who was dying of AIDS and in his final days he somehow managed to find me a nice Christmas present.
“As sad as that moment was, it’s often the one I think of 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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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/elton-john-heartbreaking-final-note-26553181 Elton John received a heartbreaking closing note from Freddie Mercury and a gift after his death