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Freddie Mercury‘s bold, bright, and often bedazzled stage looks were the ultimate complement to his band’s powerful music. They were outfits that accessorized Queen’s pulsating songs in a way only he and his commanding stage presence could. Out-there costumes were a match for Mercury’s over-the-top performances, the former never overshadowing the latter.
Over the course of Queen’s run with Mercury at the helm — until his untimely death in 1991 due to complications from HIV/AIDS at just 45-years-old — the band’s concerts were part musical extravaganzas and part visual spectacles. They drew crowds in the tens of thousands for decades.
As the new biofilm Bohemian Rhapsody opens today in multiplexes, take a journey through time with Mercury’s best stage looks.
New York City, 1977
The 1997 Day at the Races Tour was the first time Queen hopped across the Pond to New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Some of Mercury’s plunging neckline leotards were said to have been inspired by the legendary Polish male ballet dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky.
Freddie Mercury’s signature style often showed a proclivity for skin. While performing in Oakland’s Coliseum during the Hot Space Tour of 1982, the Queen frontman donned a rainbow bolero covered in feathery strips of colorful fabric.
Queen played two nights at London’s Wembley Stadium as part of the Magic Tour, on July 11th and 12th 0f 1986. An iconic photo from one show that captured Mercury in a bright yellow, military-style jacket was immortalized on the cover of Greatest Hits III. The tour would be Mercury’s last ever with the band.
Multiple cities, 1978
While criss-crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the breakneck, 46-show News of the World Tour, Mercury donned red and shite striped short shorts with matching suspenders — and not much more. The look proved so popular, it made return appearances at several locations.
Rio de Janeiro, 1985
Queen played the Rock in Rio festival in Brazil in 1985. Over the course of two back-to-back 2 a.m. stage times, the band performed for nearly 750,000 people. While in South America, Freddie brought back his signature skin-tight leotards of the 1970s. He refrained from dressing in drag for the band’s performances of I Want to Break Free because of mixed reactions from the fans.
Mercury elected to wear a traditional kimono while the band toured in Japan in 1976. They played the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo for a crowd of just under 15,000 people. Tickets went for about $26 a pop.
Mercury often incorporated leather into his looks, despite the climate. Toward the end of 1978 in Northern California during the Jazz tour, the Somebody to Love singer opted for a more covered-up look. He might have been warmed by the 320-light “pizza oven” display that followed the band across the world between 1978 and 1979.
New York City, 1980
The Game Tour of 1980 was Killer Queen at their most popular, traversing the globe with some of their biggest classic rock hits — and Freddie’s new mustache — in tow. The band incorporated songs like Another One Bites the Dust into every show. It was also a period in which Mercury began wearing a lot of pants and small accents like this matching red tie, sans shirt.
Queen wrapped its 1977 tour of the U.K. with two performances at London’s Earls Court on back-to-back June evenings. All proceeds from these shows went to the the Queen’s Silver Jubilee appeal, a charitable celebration of the Queen of England’s 25th year on the throne. Mercury matched the grandeur of the show’s honoree with a crystal-covered onesie.