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  • Writer's pictureVani Bhemarasetty

Book Review: Somebody to Love, by Mark Langthorne and Matt Richard

I have recently watched the movie Bohemain Rhapsody featuring "Rami Malek" movie focuses on the life of Freddie Mercury, the front man of the one of the largest boy band on the planet "Queen"

Every since I watched the movie, I wanted to know more about Freddie Mercury, I started watching more and more of his videos, his interviews, etc. That is when I came across this book "Somebody to Love By Matt Richard & Mark Langthorne"

This book is fantastic collection of rare and unknown facts of the greatest show man of 1980s, his raise to fame, his experimentation with his sexuality, his promiscuous lifestyle, and at the same time it also focus a lot on the widespread of AIDs pandemic, how the disease effected the lives of gay man across western Europe and US

In detailed Review:

The author started off with, how an unknown virus from Chimp got transferred to a hunter who in turn spread it to small group of people in Congo which later on became the largest Pandemic of the 1900s and later took the life of the greatest Star

I liked the intricate details of how the AIDs came to life from chimp to a human and what happened in each between 1921- 1959 and how it spread from one continent to another and the author also focuses a lot on the recklessness and ignorance people led to this wide spread disease.

Cover Page of 'Somebody to love' book

Then talks a lot initially Freddie mercury's childhood and his brief time in India where he studied in a boarding school. It was in India when he first discovered his interest in music and one of his aunt who made him take piano lessons. The author also talks briefly why the family had to migrate to UK for living, followed the brief history of the Queen's band members before meeting each other

It is through this book I came to know that it was not actually Freddie Mercury who was the lead singer, but it was Tim Stafell and band was know initially by the name "Smile", started by Brain May. There are lot of details of the initials days of the band, that shows all the band’s struggles before their first big hit, they played gig after gig in small clubs across England and Freddie used have a small clothing store which he started with Mary Austin to get move to support his music career

The Mercury-written lead single "Seven Seas of Rhye" has officially reached number 10 in the UK, and was the first hit for the band. Since then, there was no stop for the band so for Freddie. While he rose to popularity and doing concerts across UK, US, and parts of the world he grew distant from his long term girlfriend and started exploring Gay clubs in US and soon identified himself as "bisexual".

The book talks a lot on how the band worked really hard in getting better at each of their individual skills Freddie at Vocals, Roger at drums, Brain at guitar, John at Bass . They used to take offs for months in Munich to write songs, record their albums, and then come back to UK. The authors gave a lot details in making of Bohemian Rhasphody, how the band brought this song to life

Freddie Mercury with other Queen band memebers

The authors talked a lot on the mercury promiscuous lifestyle, late night parties, drugs, alcohol, his one night stands with random guys in different countries which makes the reader to feel, it is likely the reason for his contraction to the disease.

There was a lot on emphasis on how being a "Gay Man" is a stigma and men are too afraid to come out, people where put in jail if two men where seen holding hands. So is Freddie. It talks a lot on how he struggled to keep up with the image that he is straight.

As I read the book I started to empathize with the mercury's emotional state post his discovery with the disease. He did not share that he has got AIDs with his band mates till the last moment. However, in the movie we see that he confessed to this band before doing the "Live Aid" concert in 1985.

The singer has feared that telling other people would push him away, and would lead to the downfall of this band, he feared that if he came out either as "GAY" or has declared that he has AIDs, the paparazzi , the press would make his career a circus. He is too self conscious about his image in public.

AIDS memorial quilt in San Francisco

While reading his last days of life, I felt that life is vulnerable, even the biggest of the rockstars are insecure, unhappy, in the face of death everyone is the same.

Overall, this is an amazing book and a must have for all the fans who wants to know about Freddie Mercury, his bold personality, his lifestyle, and Queen altogether and a woven story of how HIV virus came to hold the world in its grip, was cruelly labelled 'The Gay Plague' and the unwitting few who indirectly infected thousands of men, women and children - Freddie Mercury himself being one of the most famous personality who succumbed to it

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