During the height of his music career, Freddie Mercury lived in a South Kensington home that was the site of many extravagant parties through the 1980s.
After reporting this story we found that some of our West London readers not only lived in that area but also attended the musician’s late night soirées.
Leigh Mason, 57, grew up in Ladbroke Grove and partied in Freddie’s home – known as Garden Lodge – three times between 1986-87.
READ MORE:What Freddie Mercury’s final message was before he died
Leigh said: “There was a club in Earls Court called Copacabana. In that time in the 70s through the 80s that area was infamous for having lots of gay people, the gay scene in London wasn’t that big at that time.
“I used to hang out there with some friends on Saturdays and I got invited to a party there [Garden Lodge] through a mutual friend.”
Freddie’s former home in South Kensington, now inhabited by his former partner Mary Austin, is known for its towering walls making it difficult to see much of the festivities from the road. Residents who lived on his road in the 1980s, though, described seeing drag queens going into the star’s home.
Leigh added: ” I remember being in awe of him when I first saw him. He was the perfect host, making sure everyone was getting what they wanted, asking people what kind of music they wanted on.
“He encouraged people to be as outrageous as they wanted to be. It was like a festival.”
Leigh described attending these parties as a “wide eyed” 24-year-old from Ladbroke Grove and being taken aback by the gravity of where he’d found himself.
“It was a real mix of people and full of laughter. There were drag queens, guys head to toe in leather, people doing coke. Looking back on it I think it was his loneliness and wanting people to spend the evening.
“It didn’t seem to be full of celebs. It just seemed to be more creative types and mixed with some locals from down the road which was interesting,” Leigh said.
Although Leigh described that there were few celebrities at the Mercury residence, he did spot Rod Stewart’s former girlfriend Britt Eckland, and also recalled Mary Austin being like a “body guard” with Freddie.
On the house’s interior, Leigh said: “The house was interesting. It was very antique and sumptuous with lovely sofas everywhere. It had lots of art inside as well.”
Philip Mullet, also a member of the Kensington community worked for a firm that did work on the inside of Freddie’s Kensington home.
He said the Queen frontman gave them all tickets to his Wembley Arena show. Another member of the Kensington community, Mark Leigh, worked as a delivery driver for a deli and frequently delivered to Garden Lodge.
Leigh shared that the parties unfortunately only lasted six months before Freddie moved to Berlin.
Do you have a story you think we should be covering? If so, email [email protected]