There are places you just don’t imagine finding yourself and the home of Freddie Mercury’s Mum is definitely one of them. Often, when I’m driving, I flick through radio stations in search of something great among all the mediocre chart tunes – it’s when I land on a Queen song that I stop and the power of Freddie’s lyrics and voice never fails to transforms a dull journey into something magical. I’m about to meet the mother of the legendary showman who 21 years after his death still has the power to rock our world. She must be something spectacular.
Next month Goodman will release a new illustrated biography, Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, and I am delivering the book to his Mum, Jer Bulsara, to take her through it before a journalist from the Telegraph arrives to interview her. Jer is almost 90 and her beloved son died 21 years ago, but the world still mourns him, his songs never stop being played and his mum never wants him to fade from our minds. Jer will only do one interview for the book and I have awarded it to the Telegraph for their excellent coverage of 40 Years of Queen in Weekend last year.
I arrive at a charming bungalow, Freddie’s sister, Kashmira, opens the door, and a small lady stands behind her – I am immediately struck by the resemblance to brother and son in both their faces and I wonder if they notice him every time they look in the mirror or at one another. Slightly in awe, I politely shake Jer’s hand, but later learn from Roger, Kashmira’s husband, that he has witnessed Freddie fans greet the rock star’s mum by falling to her feet, crying and praying.
Freddie’s three relatives are incredibly warm and welcoming – we huddle around the book and as we move from one captivating image of him to another they recall where he was at that time, which of his concerts they attended…. I was worried this could be dull for Jer, that she must have told stories of Freddie for the last 21 years but her face lights up as she regales us with wonderful tales of the son she idolized. She smiles fondly at the early photos, which she provided for the book, and speaks softly of the memories evoked. There is a beautiful image of Jer with her baby boy (shot in the garden of their family home in Zanzibar) who she never could have known would become a global icon. I ask Kashmira and Jer if they had any idea from the outset of Freddie’s career how huge their brother or son would become and they both firmly say no. Jer went on to say how proud he made her – she says this many times throughout the afternoon and if any mum has reason to be proud of their child it’s Freddie Mercury’s!
Jer has a “Freddie room” of memorabilia filled with all his shining awards. There’s a singing Freddie We Will Rock You doll and as it sings out the iconic lyrics, Jer give a little wiggle to the tune – it’s simply heartwarming. We ask her to do it again and with a cheeky grin on her face she performs the same rock move – this is where Freddie got his moves from! There are photos of Freddie in every room – some of him as the rock star we all came to know and others as just a boy. It’s easy to forget that a legend like Freddie was once just ordinary until you go into the home of the mother.
The Telegraph journalist arrives so we leave them to the main interview. Jer’s tales of her son drift into the next room….I want to tell you more because it’s truly fascinating spending the afternoon with the mother of the world’s greatest performer, but I must leave it to the Telegraph to reveal all in Weekend on 8th September.
A beautifully presented book –Blessed by Jer Bulsara, Freddie Mercury’s mum.
Roger gives me a lift back to the train station – he says of his mother-in-law, “if anyone wants to know where Freddie got his star quality they need not look far.”