Few people knew the two of the biggest and most extraordinary pop stars of the last century had an intense friendship that almost resulted in the Queen star being on the Thriller album. Originally it was MJ who pursued Freddie. Rolling Stone reported that when Jackson was spotted backstage at a Queen show in Los Angeles and asked if he was a fan of the band, he replied: “I’m a Freddie Mercury fan.”
In a powerful interview in 1983 with Lisa Robinson, Freddie opened up about their friendship, recording music together and why he could never live like Michael.
He said: “In the early days, three, four years ago, he used to come and see our shows at the Forum in LA. I guess he likes us. So I got to meet him and he kept coming to see us. We started talking.”
“I remember going to dinner with him.”
The interview took place the year after the Thriller album was released and made Jackson the biggest star in the world. Incredibly, Freddie had worked on three tracks with Jackson and he smiles in the interview at the realisation that he might have featured on what was already becoming the biggest album of all time.
Freddie said: “I think one of the tracks would have been on the Thriller album if I finished it but I missed out.”
Another time he bluntly said: “I was initially gonna be on Thriller. Can you imagine that? I blew it!”
In an interview with Radio One, he explained what happened and how he was replaced by Mick Jagger on another recording with the Jacksons.
Freddie told Radio One the reason they were drawn together was that were so different in personality and musical style: “I guess maybe that is the attraction.
“We still have unfinished works of art in the vault. They haven’t come to fruition. In the early days, he used to like Queen and come and see all our concerts and we became friends and he said ‘Why don’t we do something together.’ This was just before the Thriller days. I went over to his house and did three or four demos to see how they’d work out.”
One track, State of Shock, was intended for Thriller as a duet with Freddie but the Queen star had to pull out.
Freddie said: “State of Shock I couldn’t complete, so Mick Jagger did it. I actually did the vocals. Timing is everything.
“At the time when he wanted me to finish it, I just said, ‘I can’t, I really haven’t got time.’ I was working with Queen. I was in Munich, he was in Los Angeles. He said, ‘Is it OK if Mick does it?’ I said, ‘Fine.’
“So all that remains is the only track that we wrote together called Victory, which he then used as the title for the Jacksons album. It’s the only track we wrote together. We have a demo. It sounds great.”
In the 1983 interview, Freddie also opened up about how different their lifestyles were, and how “frightened” he was by one realisation.
Freddie said: “I think now he just stays at home. He doesn’t like coming out. He says whatever he wants he can get it home…anything he wants he just buys it.
“That’s not me. But I mean, you know, that’s his bag. I wouldn’t do that, I’d be bored to death. I have to go out every night. I hate staying in one room for too long anyway. I like to keep moving… I don’t know, I guess, it’s just because he started when he was very young… When you think about it, when I’m talking to him I think ‘My God, he’s 25 and I’m 37, yet he’s been in the business almost longer than I have.’”
“For me, it’s sort of frightening…you think., ‘Somebody who’s 22 or 25 or just starting out or whatever and I could teach him a few tricks.’ But not Michael.”