Before I begin going into detail, I want to tell you all how difficult it is for me to write about this particular song. This song, in my opinion, has the most impact behind it in that, instead of having an underlying societal issue, it was written by Brian Mays, the lead guitarist, about his best friend and band-mate, Freddie Mercury. This was the last song on the 1991 album “Innuendo”, Freddie’s last album, released six weeks before the curtain came down and Freddie Mercury was no more.
At 45, Freddie confessed to his band that all the years of one-night stands had finally caught up with him and that he was HIV positive. Ironically enough, the 45-year-old millionaire had claimed for years that he was one of the loneliest men in the world. And when the curtain finally came down, sadly he was alone. Freddie, the outrageous showman, had three real loves in his life – sex, music and ONE special woman, his personal assistant Mary Austin. Not long after release, Freddie Mercury succumbed to AIDS, putting to rest a two year battle.
Towards the end of his battle, Freddie refused to stop performing, needing to be out and making his mark on the world. While AIDS was taking its physical toll on Freddie, his makeup artists continued to plaster more and more on him until he looked barely human. Although managing to keep his disease out of the papers, the increasing amounts of stage makeup are what first tipped off fans. By the time some people began to speculate, it was too late.
The Show Must Go On is the story of how Freddie continued to perform despite approaching the end of his life. The title is derived from the stage phrase “The show must go on!” which is used to motivate actors and performers when they have many obstacles preventing them from continuing. It has been speculated that Brian wrote this song in response to the many speculations regarding Freddie’s declining health.
This powerful and emotive song is about maintaining Freddie Mercury’s infamy and how, no matter what, his show will always go on.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t99KH0TR-J4