By Maria Vultaggio
Nineteen years ago today day, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury, died of bronchopneumonia resulting from AIDS. The singer was only 45 years old.
For the last two or three remaining years of his life, Mercury had appeared to be terribly ill and thus rumors about his health spread. The day before his death, however, Freddie released this statement:
“Following enormous conjecture in the press, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private in order to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope everyone will join me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.”
According to one of Mercury’s long time friends and confidantes, Mary Austin announced that Mercury had decided to end his own life by discontinuing his medication.
Austin told OK magazine in 2000, “It was Freddie’s decision to finally end it all. He chose the time to die. He knew it was coming. The quality of his life had changed so dramatically and he was in more pain every day. He was losing his sight. His body became weaker as he suffered mild fits. It was so distressing to see him deteriorating in this way. One day he decided enough was enough and stopped all the medical supplements that were keeping him going. The overwhelming thing for me was that he was just so incredibly brave. He looked death in the face and said, ‘Fine, I’ll accept it now – I’ll go.’ But it was peaceful and he died with a smile on his face.”
May one of the greatest musicians of all time rest in peace.