Thursday 8 November 2018


THE Scot who employed Queen star Freddie Mercury for four years in his London market shop says watching new film Bohemian Rhapsody made him well up because it was just like reliving the past.
Glasgow born Alan Mair, who had huge success with sixties boy band The Beatstalkers, owned a leather clothing and boot stall at Kensington Market when he first encountered a long haired Freddie at the end of 1969.
He said: “It was late 69 when I got the clothing stall and Freddie and Roger got a shop unit there a few months after, three doors away from me in the upstairs section. Freddie was selling his art as well as second hand clothes but his shop wasn’t busy.”
Alan, whose leather trousers, skirts, jackets and matching boots became sought after by London’s cool kids including David Bowie, and Noddy Holder offered Freddie a job.
He said: “By 1970 I had my stall in Kensington, another on Kings road and a factory.  I said to Freddie ‘Can you look after the shop in the morning?’ because I was busy at the factory. Freddie’s shop hadn’t taken off, so he could come to my place  and keep an eye on his along the passageway.”
Although no mention was made in the movie of Freddie’s market days, Alan, who was called by researchers for the film early in the process, felt like he was reliving his past when he saw Rami Malek play a young Freddie.
He said: “Mary was in Kensington market with Freddie and although they didn’t mention it and almost glazed over Biba, when I saw Rami with his long hair at the start of the movie it was like a step back in time.
“Freddie’s affection for Mary was spot on. He definitely only had one person in life at that time and that was Mary. If we were hanging out on Saturday night it was him and Mary. In the market they were known as girlfriend and boyfriend and Mary was a very sweet and lovely person. Developments regarding Freddie’s real persuasion came later.”
Smile’s first gig is something Alan recalled fondly.
He said: “I went to the first gigs by Freddie’s Smile band -including Imperial College and they were fantastic. Roger and others were students there so would get gigs there. That is where the film really portrays Freddie. He was perfectly flamboyant if not a bit awkward. Freddie developed over the years and he would change his style so much it was hard to get a sense of what he looked like at the start so it was a real flashback.”
He added: “Freddie wanted me to come to the gigs because I had been a musician. I did say to him once, early on, that he pushed his voice quite hard at gigs, just being excited by it all. He’d go a bit sharp and I’d say it in the nicest way, not after the gig in his dressing room, but later on in the week when we were back over at the shop unit. I just told him: ‘Be a little careful because you are going sharp a bit-hold back a bit’. You could be honest with him.”
Alan employed Freddie for four years and said he was articulate and honest - although, as the film suggested, he was known for being a little late at times.
He said: “Fifteen people were working for me and I never needed to do a stock check with Freddie. I could tell I could trust him. Some people in Kensington market would tell me Freddie opened the stall at eleven amnot ten am, but in the shop the stock was always sold so I didn’t mind whether he was there at ten am or not.”
Freddie and Alan would often have a soft drink on Saturdays after work at the Greyhound pub in Kensington.
He said: “Being married with a son, I didn’t go out much. Freddie and I would get soft drinks and play snooker.”
Freddie worked in the shop until ‘74 even after getting his record deal and Alan, kept in touch with him, occasionally popping into his big house for an ornate cup of tea.
Alan said: “We’d reminisce. I was backstage at the sold out Hyde park Concert and I saw him in LA in 1980 when I played with The Only Ones. In ‘75, I saw him after the Hammersmith Odeon show when it was all going to his head and he was a different Freddie. For want of a better expression he was being an a***hole. When we supported the Who for six nights at the Forum all of Queen came in. I went to say hello but remembered how he was, changed my mind and walked away. I heard some heels clip clipping behind me and it was Freddie who said to me: “I know I’ve been a bit of an a***hole but I’ve put all of that behind me.” We spent the rest of the night having a drink and chat.
“ In the film Freddie eats humble pie and that shows the true heart of the person. He was very kind and thoughtful and I got emotional when I saw the hardships he’d been through. It was like a tapestry of my life - but through Freddie’s eyes.”

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1 comment:

  1. why have I never seen this photo? And this story should be shared with more people and fans, it is much underrated and should not go unheard. This gives me more insight on Freddie Mercury, i'm mentioning this in every conversation I enter from now on, which will probably weird people out in how much info I know but I don't care. THIS IS SOLID GOLD, BABY!