Queen rocked Knebworth 30 years ago today in Freddie Mercury’s last show
PUBLISHED: 20:50 09 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:26 10 August 2016
Today – August 9 – marks 30 years since Queen rocked Knebworth House in what proved to be Freddie Mercury’s final concert with the band.
Queen’s performance at Knebworth on August 9, 1986, was the final date of the band’s hugely successful Magic Tour.
Having already sold out gigs at Wembley Stadium, singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon added a massive outdoor show at the iconic Hertfordshire venue.
A picture of the band’s arrival by helicopter was later used as part of the gatefold sleeve for a live album of the 1986 tour.
However, Mercury was later diagnosed with AIDS, and subsequently died in 1991.
“They had a whole fairground backstage. I remember they had scantily clad ladies mud wrestling backstage.”
Knebworth House’s Henry Lytton Cobbold
The rock band stopped touring as a group until 2005, making the Knebworth concert the last time the four members of Queen performed live on stage together.
Knebworth House’s Henry Lytton Cobbold remembers the gig well, both as Freddie Mercury’s last concert and for the fact that they didn’t push record on the video footage.
He said: “That’s the big horror of the Queen concert.
“There were big screens all around the arena, including one massive one on top of the stage, and they filmed the whole thing but didn’t press record.
“So although they had the sound desk mix from that show, the only visual images are tiny little bits of news clips.
“Can you believe that on Freddie Mercury’s last concert, the great showman, no one actually pressed record?
“There’s a Dutch bootleg of somebody filming a screen at the back of the audience for the whole show, so there’s a record of it, but no proper film.
“So the concert becomes a bit mythological because of that.”
Of the band’s performance, Henry added: “It was fantastic. They were at the top of their game.
“Having done Live Aid the year before, this was taking that and really conquering the world with that particular tour.
“We didn’t know at the time, but sadly it was Freddie Mercury’s last show.
“But boy, to arrive in style with that helicopter shot and to give that performance.”