A Notts band performed at the unveiling of a memorial to legendary rock singer Freddie Mercury.
Queen tribute band, Mercury, who are based in Newark, played to 2,000 people at the ceremony in Feltham, West London. Among those watching their 60 minute set of Queen hits was Freddie’s 87-year-old mother Jer Bulsara, who lives in Mapperley and guitarist Brian May.
“It was a brilliant day,” said Joseph Lee Jackson, who is Mercury’s Freddie.
“The reaction from the crowd was fantastic. The whole square was packed.
“And there were people there from all over the world. I spoke to people from Japan, Europe, Australia and Argentina who had flown in just for the event.”
The Bulsara family moved from Zanzibar, where Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara, to Feltham in 1964. It was there that Freddie, aged 16, enrolled in art college and started his music career, joining a band called The Hectics.
He lived in the northwest London suburb for ten years.
The granite pavement star, the UK’s first memorial to singer, was unveiled 18 years after the singer’s death from an AIDS-related illness aged 45.
“It’s stunning,” said Jackson.
“It was originally going to be the same size as the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but it snowballed and it’s massive. Really impressive.”
At the ceremony Mrs Bulsara, who was joined by Freddie’s sister Kash Cooke, described him as “a man with a big appetite for life and an even bigger talent for music”.
She added: “Feltham was his first home in England after we arrived from Zanzibar. It was a place where he began to explore his musical future.”
Jackson, who has been performing with Mercury for ten years, said: “By the time we met here she was tired out. It was a long day for her. We have met her before. She has been to us play at gigs in Nottingham.”
At one of the gigs she gave him a pendant as a thank you for keeping her son’s memory alive.
Mercury have performed to sell-out audiences across the world, playing to more than a million people from Holland to Hungary and from Majorca to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
They have met Queen drummer Roger Taylor in the past but the memorial event was the first time they’d met Brian May.
Jackson, who spends up to £800 on items of clothing to mater the Freddie look on stage, said: “He thought it was great what we were doing. And he said that Freddie would have been proud of the memorial.”
He added: “It is odd that it’s taken 18 years to pay tribute to him. There is a statue of him in Montreux where Queen had a studio but nothing until now in Britain.”