Freddie Mercury: First girlfriend Rose describes Queen star’s ‘inner torture’

Freddie Mercury was a ’tortured man’ says Rose Pearson

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A new documentary Freddie Mercury: A Life In Ten Pictures delves into the private life of the man behind the myth. His art school girlfriend Rose talked about how they met, how they bonded over nude art and how the Queen star’s struggles with his burgeoning sexuality eventually drove them apart.

Rose said: “He was very charismatic without having to say anything. He was very shy because of his teeth so he didn’t smile alot. He was a bit of a fish out of water who couldn’t easily fit. I was intrigued by the people who didn’t fit in rather than the people who did. 

“He wasn’t very confident on stage but he was very loud.  He just went for it completely and I thought that was amazingly impressive. He wanted to manifest himself in his own way and he went for it.”

She took him to the V&A for a college art projects.

Rose said: “We went to see a ballet exhibition. He was fascinated by that. That was the start of us becoming a couple.

“We discovered the photographer Edward Muybridge and the images were men wresting in the nude and the images were something that meant a great deal to him. 

“The images became something we talked about.”

But it all changed on a fateful trip to the cinema.

Rose said: “Until we went to see the Ken Russell film and the part that intrigued him was Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling…”

The 1969 naked scene between stars Oliver Reed and Alan Bates is one of the most notoriously homoerotic moments in cinema history.

It’s understandable that the ensuing scene of two naked and very sweaty men, grappling on a Persian rug in front of roaring fire might strike a chord with a young man in the audience wrestling with his sexuality. 

Rose said: “I could see he was dumbfounded by this. After that he was rather gloomy, he was a bit quiet. It became something that he didn’t want to talk about. He wasn’t with other men at that time. But it was for him it was something he wanted to know about but also wanted to hide.”

Freddie Mercury: Rose Pearson opens up on ‘becoming a couple’

It was the end of the relationship, although it wasn’t what Freddie wanted at the time.

Rose said: “I thought, ‘what is going on? I don’t love this guy. I’m infatuated with him because he is such an interesting person but I don’t love him because I don’t identify with him.’

“But he was devastated, He hadn’t seen it coming at all. I think he was an exceedingly tortured man keeping that quiet as it were. The only thing he had was his voice. Him and his voice were best friends.”

Despite Freddie’s inner struggles, Rose previously confirmed they had a physical relationship.

In 2019 she said: “I think I was Freddie’s first girlfriend. We had a physical relationship and he was a very ardent lover.

“He was charismatic, dressed outrageously – sometimes in shorts, no top and a fur coat – and was determined to make it as a singer. He was a clown, so much fun to be around.

“Freddie was also the only truly fearless person I ever met.”

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