I was still a teenager (just) when Freddie Mercury died.
I was working in my local Our Price music store and it's a day I'll never forget. Not long after we opened the shutters a steady stream of truly distraught and inconsolable Queen fans gathered in the shop.
We played Queen all day and looked on as tearful Freddie fans sat on the shop floor sharing memories and hugs with each other - and us.
It was a surreal sight and, I must admit, I couldn't fully understand at the time why so many people were grieving so hard for a man they never knew.
Twenty five years after his death at the age of just 45, and on what would have been Freddie's 70th birthday, I now can.
I grew up on Queen. My dad was a huge fan. A self-proclaimed "man's man", my pops served 25 years in the RAF in an age when visible gay performers were few and far between.
Not that Freddie was officially 'out', despite the fact that he was the very definition of flamboyant and named his band Queen.
That was somehow lost on my pops. He loved Freddie. Really, REALLY loved him.
Every family barbeque was accompanied by a soundtrack of Queen's greatest hits (well, once I'd had my ABBA quota fulfilled). And as afternoon turned to evening, the music got louder. So did my dad's singing.
He was no match for Freddie's unmistakable voice. Instantly recognisable and unlike anyone else before - or since.
He and his band had the songs too - from rock to disco - and most importantly, he had that can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it something that Simon Cowell tries - and fails - to discover every year on primetime ITV.
Just watch how he has 75,000 people in the palm of his hand at Live Aid in 1985 for evidence.
He also managed to transcend any particular core fan base. My dad was a fan. So was my mum, and my brothers. Kids loved him. Grannies adored him.
His music appealed to leather jacket-wearing rockers - and ABBA fans like me.
He was cool and uncool, which made him even cooler.
He was one of a kind. He was magic.
I often wonder what he would have been like, had he still been alive today.
What would such a truly talented man make of our anything-to-be-famous-but-famous-for-nothing celebrity culture?
What musical gems would he have bestowed upon us?
And most importantly, what would he think about the remaining members of Queen giving the green light to 'A Kind Of Magic' being used in the Furniture Village TV ads?
We'll never know of course, because Freddie wasn't lucky enough to live in an era when the disease that took his life in such an untimely manner could be treated and controlled.
And what a tragedy that was, for him, for us and for music.
But we'll always have the music.
Happy birthday, Freddie.
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