Freddie Mercury, like countless other musicians, held an unwavering admiration for the legendary members of The Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. The 1960s witnessed The Beatles revolutionizing the music industry, leaving an enduring impact that extended to artists like Freddie Mercury. In conversations about the band, Mercury made it clear that Lennon’s songwriting resonated with him more than that of the other members.
Freddie Mercury openly confessed that John Lennon held the position of his favorite artist within The Beatles
Mercury openly proclaimed John Lennon as his favored artist within The Beatles. After Lennon’s untimely passing, Mercury paid homage to his musical hero by composing a heartfelt song titled “Life is Real,” aiming to capture the essence of Lennon’s unique style.
In his own words, as documented in the book “Freddie Mercury: A Life in His Own Words,” Mercury shared his insights: “Immersed in the melodies of John Lennon’s songs, I felt compelled to create an atmosphere reminiscent of his brilliance. I strived to infuse that distinctive oriental violin sound, evoking a sense of melancholy that I wholeheartedly embraced. My intention was to convey the surreal lyrics that, to me, defined John Lennon.”
Mercury’s aspiration to emulate Lennon stemmed from his deep admiration for the iconic artist. Among The Beatles, Lennon stood out as Mercury’s preferred musician. Throughout the Beatles’ early days, Mercury regarded Lennon as a larger-than-life figure and an absolute genius. Despite being unable to pinpoint the exact reason, Mercury was captivated by Lennon’s work, acknowledging an enchanting quality that struck a chord within him.
Freddie Mercury stated that he had no intention of becoming a mere replica of John Lennon
However, while Mercury endeavored to incorporate Lennon’s style into “Life is Real,” he did not seek to mimic Lennon’s musical and public persona. In his own words, Mercury expressed his perspective: “I do not intend to change the world through our music. Our songs do not carry concealed messages, with the exception of a few penned by Brian. My songs can be likened to disposable pop—like Bic razors—crafted for the enjoyment of contemporary listeners. They can discard them as easily as used tissues and move on to the next. Unlike John Lennon or Stevie Wonder, I am not inclined to compose politically motivated songs.”
This does not imply that Mercury viewed such qualities negatively in musicians. Instead, he believed that he lacked the ability to create politically charged music. Although politics influenced his thoughts to some extent, he chose to set it aside in his role as a musician. He elaborated, saying, “I do not possess a natural inclination for politics, nor do I believe I possess the talent to craft profound messages. Music is freeing, and its essence is subjective to the individual. John Lennon excels in that realm, but it remains beyond my grasp. My songs are akin to commercially appealing love songs, and I find joy in infusing my emotional talent into that domain. I harbor no desire to change the world or advocate for peace, as I lack the necessary motivation. Politics is simply not my realm. Given the opportunity, I would likely bungle an entire nation. Can you imagine it? I would sing all my speeches!”
In this aspect, he resembled Paul McCartney more
In this context, Mercury discovered common ground with Paul McCartney. Despite his preference for Lennon’s music, there were parallels between Mercury and McCartney. Both gravitated towards songs with lighter messages, preferring not to compose overtly political music. McCartney even composed the song “Too Many People” as a critique of Lennon’s newfound identity as an activist.
Perhaps Mercury held such a profound admiration for Lennon precisely because his writing style diverged from his own.