“Mercury and Me” by Jim Hutton and Tim Wapshott— Freddie and Jim— A Love Story

Hutton, Jim and Tim Wapshott. “Mercury and Me”, Independently Published , 2019.

Freddie and Jim— A Love Story

Amos Lassen

“Mercury and Me” is the story of rock’s oddest couple—  the relationship between Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton that evolved over several months in 1984 and 1985. Even when they first slept together Hutton had no idea who Mercury was, and when the star told him his name it meant nothing to him. Hutton was a simple man who worked as a barber at the Savoy Hotel and retained his job and his lodgings in Sutton, Surrey, for two years after moving in with Mercury, and then worked as his gardener. He was never fully part of Mercury’s jet-setting lifestyle, nor did he want to be, but from 1985 until Mercury’s death in 1991 he was closer to him than anyone and knew all Mercury’s closest friends: the other members of Queen, Elton John, David Bowie and Phil Collins to name a few. Jim was always present at the countless Sunday lunch gatherings and fancy parties, Hutton has many stories and a deep understanding of, Mercury’s life. He nursed Mercury through his terminal illness and often held him throughout the night in his final weeks and was with him as he died. This is the accurate story of the last few years of Mercury’s private life from one of the two people who experienced it.

As we read, we surely sense the love between Jim and Freddie, but we can only wonder if there had not been AIDS, would their relationship have been different? This fascinating memoir of Jim Hutton’s years as Freddie Mercury’s boyfriend or “husband,” as Freddie called him, shares intimate moments in a rocky relationship. We get Hutton’s take on some events that are documented on film, and others that weren’t. He struggled with Freddie’s fame and he shares Freddie’s bravery in dealing with AIDS, as well as his fears and need for discretion. The British tabloid treatment was horrible and saddening. Hutton died in 2010 and this adds to the bittersweet memoir’s tone. Hutton’s mostly hidden role in supporting one of the greatest rock musicians of all time is revealed here.

This is a portrait of a man that is told in a beautiful, honest and compelling way. Hutton gives us a picture of a man who was tortured and inspired and always a decent guy. By the end, my eyes were filled with tears and I became angry. Freddie had final wishes bit they were not legally recorded. It is very sad to read about the final treatment of Hutton and the other housemates of Freddie’s, his closest friends who had been with him for years and sat with him to the end are treated shamefully.

I read this after seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and it helped me with some of the inaccuracies from the film. I went into the film not knowing much about Queen or Freddie Mercury, but I was curious to learn more. Freddie and Jim were already in a relationship before Live Aid and Jim visited  Freddie while he was in Munich. It made me feel very disappointed that the film acted as though Freddie still was fixated on Mary at this point, when instead he seemed to be falling in love with Jim. It must have been so hard for Jim to be treated as invisible in so many situations because gay couples were so much less accepted at that time. I was amazed time and again by his patience with Freddie’s mood swings yet in spite of Freddie’s moodiness, they both seemed to have a deep love for each other. The end of the book is heart-breaking, particularly with Jim having to be forced so quickly from the home he and Freddie shared. This is a story about what true love is.

There is insight into Freddie Mercury as a person and some insight into his music as well, particularly into what he was working on in his later years and observations about his work ethic, and musicians who inspired him.

Freddie Mercury had a heart as big as his voice and I believe he fell for Jim and genuinely loved him. Even though I knew the ending, I had tears in my eyes during the final chapters. Jim Hutton was just a hairdresser making 60 pounds a week when he met Freddie Mercury at a bar/club. After one night together Freddie told Jim, “I’m a singer.” Jim had never heard of Freddie Mercury. An unlikely love story begins. So many times during this book I recognized the love between Freddie and Tim.

There were no salacious stories or intimate moments mentioned in detail but rather we learned  about the relationship between two people who obviously cared deeply for each other.

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