How Liza Minnelli inspired Freddie Mercury

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was a beacon of musical brilliance, an artist who left behind a legacy that continues to inspire and resonate with millions of hearts worldwide.

Undeniable musical talents aside, though, Mercury also transcended his legendary status as an iconic singer and songwriter to reveal another passion — his profound love for cinema.

His love of the silver screen was kindled during his time at St. Peter’s public school in India, where film nights became an experience that ignited his fascination for the greats, exposing him to the talents of big names like Laurence Olivier.

Among his distinguished movie selections, Mercury had impeccable taste, embracing cinematic masterpieces like Billy Wilder’s timeless comedy Some Like It Hot and Prince’s iconic 1984 film Purple Rain. However, one film held an extraordinarily special place in his heart: Cabaret, starring Liza Minnelli as the young Sally Bowles who famously sang at the Kit Kat Club.

“I like the cabaret-ish sort of thing,” Mercury once said. “In fact, one of my early inspirations came from Cabaret”. In actuality, he fell as much in love with the film as he did with Liza Minnelli, who became a major source of inspiration: “I absolutely adore Liza Minnelli, she’s a total wow,” he said. “The way she delivers her songs – the sheer energy. The way the lights enhance every movement of the show. I think you can see similarities in the excitement and energy of a Queen show”.

He added: “[Queen] have more in common with Liza Minnelli than Led Zeppelin. We’re more in the showbiz tradition than the rock ‘n’ roll tradition”.

Detailing further, the singer continued: “On stage you either have the magic, or you don’t, and there’s no way you can work up to it. Liza Minnelli just oozes sheer talent. She has energy and stamina, which she gets across the stage, and the way she delivers herself to the public is a good influence. There is a lot to learn from her”.

The admiration between them was mutual and profound. In 1992, Minnelli took the stage at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, captivating an audience of 72,000. Joining the remaining members of Queen, she poured her heart and soul into an emotional rendition of ‘We Are The Champions’.

This powerful performance was graced by a constellation of stars, with the likes of Elton John, Tony Iommi, David Bowie, James Hetfield, Annie Lennox, George Michael, and more who came together to pay tribute and provide their unwavering support. The performance became an unforgettable testament to Mercury and Minnelli’s enduring friendship, and the united fight against AIDS, leaving an unmatched impression on the hearts of all who witnessed it.

Minnelli later said: “I performed at Wembley Stadium at the concert to honour Freddie. He was a huge fan of mine, which I am still tickled to know. He was one of the best of all time”.

The performance has been long deemed one of the most emotional parts of the entire show – as Minnelli unleashed the heartfelt lyrics with her powerful voice, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause, undeniably moved by the sheer passion of her performance.

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