The 11th Brit Awards took place back on February 18, 1990. The highlight of the night was when the legendary band Queen was honored with a prestigious award, for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Sadly, many of us couldn’t realize, it was the final official public appearance from Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
Most of the people present there didn’t know about the grave situation of Mercury. Privately the other members were aware of the situation, but it was not public knowledge at the time. Freddie appeared on the stage with heavy makeup to conceal the traces of his AIDS condition at the time.
“We didn’t know actually what was wrong for a very long time. We never talked about it and it was a sort of unwritten law that we didn’t, because Freddie didn’t want to. He just told us that he wasn’t up to doing tours, and that’s as far as it went. Gradually, I suppose in the last year and a bit, it became obvious what the problem was, or at least fairly obvious. We didn’t know for sure.”
During the acceptance of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Music’ prize, Freddie Mercury was just present there and stood quietly. Brain May spoke on Queen’s behalf that night. It would be Freddie’s final public appearance and he leaned into the microphone and said, “Thank you … goodnight.”
His diagnosis was kept a secret until November 22, 1991. When he issued an official statement, just a day later he passed away. A friend of Freddie’s revealed why he kept his diagnosis a secret for a long time. David Wigg while speaking on the BBC documentary, Freddie Mercury: A Life in Ten Pictures said.
“I noticed he had lost weight and he had a mark on his cheek that was apparently one of those marks (Kaposi’s sarcoma) you can get when you get HIV.” That’s when Freddie said,
“I have almost become a nun. I thought sex was very important to me and I lived for sex and now I’ve completely gone the other way It’s frightened me to death. I’ve stopped having sex. David this is very difficult I will tell you as a friend but you have to promise you will not put this in our article.”
David asked, ” ‘Right, you are saying to me you have had a test?’ (And Freddie said) ‘Yes. And I am HIV.’ The secret had to be kept because he was still hoping that there could still be some kind of a cure or the drugs he was taking for this illness would help him get through it.”
While his circumstances were not public, there were rumors about Freddie’s health as early as 1986. Even magazines and tabloids such as The Sun claimed that he had tested positive for HIV/AIDS. But, he kept this a secret until November 22, 1991, after a day, he passed away.