Queen was a band in a class of their own. Their mixture of progressive rock and pop music, the guitar mastery of Brian May, and the undeniable energy and talent of frontman Freddie Mercury, allowed them to become arguably the best touring rock band on the planet by the early ’80s. Queen were a juggernaut, playing to massive crowds around the world. There was no band bigger at that time. As we know now, things quickly took a turn for the worse for Mercury. In 1986, British papers reported that Mercury had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and the band was forced to stop touring. Mercury ended up dying from the disease just five years later, and fans around the world continue to mourn the loss of one of rock and roll’s truest icons to this day.
But just months before the widespread reporting of Mercury’s diagnosis, the band mounted what would become their final tour with their fearless frontman: the summer ’86 “Magic Tour” in support of their most recent album, A Kind of Magic. The tour was the biggest that the band had ever mounted, drawing in record-breaking attendance numbers across Europe. Their Irish show at Slane Castle drew in 95,000 people. Their performance in Budapest–behind the Iron Curtain during the thick of the Cold War–brought 80,000 people, and remains one of the biggest concerts ever held in Eastern Europe. Their final performance with Mercury, at the U.K.’s Knebworth Park, sold out in just 2 hours and attracted a whopping 120,000 revelers.
The focal point of the tour came when the band made their way through their native stomping grounds for a two-night stand at the iconic Wembley Stadium. The sold-out stand was immortalized with a concert film, Queen at Wembley, originally released as a VHS in 1990 and, later, as a DVD in 2003. The DVD has since ton 5x Platinum, and remains a treasured relic of Queen history.
In particular, the famous rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Live at Wembley stands as a testament to Mercury’s unparalleled brilliance as a musician, singer and performer. Freddie shines throughout the performance, guiding the enormous crowd through the classic song’s sorrowful, sweeping lows and defiantly powerful highs with equal parts grace, flash, and endless charisma. We’ve never had one like him, and chances are we never will again.
Watch Freddie Mercury lead Queen in a captivating rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” during his final tour at Wembley Stadium below via FB page Bohemian Rhapsody – CLUB: