Brian May unveils plaque at childhood home of Queen bandmate Freddie Mercury
Published 01/09/2016 | 15:26
Queen guitarist Brian May admitted it was an occasion tinged with sadness as he unveiled a blue plaque at the childhood home of his bandmate Freddie Mercury.
The frontman died in 1991, but May said he could feel his presence as he revealed the memorial at the terraced house in Feltham, west London.
Mercury was living in the house with his parents when he met his future bandmates May and Roger Taylor.
Before unveiling the English Heritage plaque, May, who also grew up in Feltham, said: "The last thing we would have thought is that I would be here at this point, commemorating him with a blue plaque. It's a happy occasion with a tinge of sadness because he should be here, he should still be here creating."
He added: "As boys we conquered the world in a way that was beyond our wildest dreams, which is why we are here today.
"What I remember of Freddie is hard to sum up. He was a shy boy and embarrassed of still living with his mum, so he often slept on people's floors to feel like he had broken away.
"He had an extraordinary capacity to energise people and make them feel excited. We knew he was something very special, he made people feel like they could do it too."
Mercury's parents bought the house in Feltham after they left Zanzibar for the UK when he was a teenager.
He now joins his idol Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as musicians to have been honoured with the plaque.
Mercury was just 45 when he died of bronchial pneumonia resulting from Aids, but May said he could feel his presence at the ceremony.
He told the Press Association: "I can see his little wicked smile. He always had this feeling he was a legend, we would joke about it, but it happened. He was thinking of leaving something great to the world."
He added: "Freddie is so much a part of our lives now, both privately and publicly, he's very much part of the Queen show, Freddie is there every night always, he's a part of what we built."
Mercury's sister Kashmira Cooke and culture secretary Karen Bradley joined May for the ceremony and afterwards Cooke said: "It's emotional, but I'm so happy. Our parents would never have imagined this would be a blue plaque house when they bought it.
"I miss him but I have thi s feeling he's watching over me, just when I'm not aware something happens, he speaks through the radio, through music, at the most uncanny times."
Ms Bradley said she had fond memories of Mercury's music playing on the jukebox in her family's pub when she was growing up and watching the band perform was her earliest recollection of Top of the Pops.
She told the crowd: "To suggest that Freddie and Queen are not timeless and not worthy of this sort of honour is utterly bizarre. He is one of the most worthwhile recipients I can think of."