Fatty: When did you begin to suspect that Freddie might be seriously ill?
John: I think it must have been some time around 1994.
John: Maybe even as late as 1995.
Fatty: But by 1994 Freddie had already been dead for three years.
John: Yeah, that came as quite a shock to me.
Fatty: Were you even aware that he had AIDS.
John: I do remember thinking that he had lost a lot of weight and I mentioned that to the other guys on a number of occasions. In fact, I remember during a break from recording in the studio Freddie gathered Roger, Brian and myself in the mixing room and said something along the lines of "Look. You guys know what I'm dealing with. I don't want to speak about it after this day. I just want to get on with recording material." or something like that.
Fatty: And you knew he meant that he had AIDS?
John: Oh God, no. I thought he was on the Atkins diet and he didn't want us mentioning his terrible bad breath.
Fatty: So when Freddie died the following November, didn't anyone get in touch with you to break the bad news.
John: I was on holiday when he died and when I got back I think I must have wiped the message from my answering machine by mistake.
Fatty: But you went to his funeral. I've seen footage of you at his funeral.
John: Yes, but at the time I had no idea it was Freddie's funeral. What happened was this. Jim Beach telephoned me one day to say he was sending a car to pick me up for the funeral. I suppose I could have asked who's funeral I was supposed to be attending but it just didn't seem right at the time. Besides, I'd figure it out eventually, wouldn't I?
Fatty: I would have thought so.
John: But then it turned out that the entire ceremony was conducted in some foreign language. I had no idea who or what they were talking about and by the time the service was over I couldn't exactly walk up to someone and say "So who was the stiff in the box anyway?" I'd look a right tit.
Fatty: But then in April of 92 you performed at Freddie's tribute concert. You must have realised that Freddie had died by then.
John: I had no idea. I thought we were performing a special one-off gig to promote the Greatest Hits 2 album.
Fatty: Without Freddie?
John: Look. What you have to realise is that during a gig, I'm stood at the back with my head down, concentrating on what I'm supposed to be doing. Every so often I would look up to see what Freddie was up to and to be fair, on that particular occasion. I do remember thinking he had changed his outfit more often than normal.
Fatty: So what you're saying is that you were under the impression that all those artists performing were in fact Freddie wearing a number of different outfits.
John: Exactly. In fact it wasn't until he blacked up to sing 'Who Wants to Live Forever' that I thought he was taking things a bit too far.
Fatty: And what about the Bejart ballet where you performed with Elton John? Did you think that was Freddie too.
John: I did, yes. In fact I can even remember thinking that Freddie was off the Atkins diet because he had piled the weight back on again.
Fatty: So who was it who eventually broke the news to you that Freddie had died?
John: It was Mary.
Fatty: Mary Austin?
John: Yes. Freddie had borrowed my lawnmower a few years earlier and my garden was in a bit of a state so I drove round to Freddie's to ask for it back. Mary invited me in and we sat down with a cuppa and chatted for a while but it was getting late so I asked if Freddie was around as I need to get my lawnmower back. Next thing I know Mary's in floods of tears. I remember thinking "Jesus Christ, it's only a lawnmower".
Fatty: Then she told you that Freddie had died.
John: Not exactly. She said that Freddie had gone.
Fatty: Oh Jesus. You asked when he'd be back, didn't you?
John: Well how the fuck was I supposed to know? Anyway. There were more tears and after another hour and a half of completely innocent misunderstandings, Mary held me gently by the throat and said "WHY CAN'T YOU GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK FUCKING SKULL! HE'S DEAD."
Fatty: That must have come as a great shock.
John: You better believe it.
Fatty: So now that you were aware that Freddie was no longer around what were your immediate thoughts.
John: Well I knew that Peter Frampton lived near by and he had a garden strimmer that belonged to me so at east I'd be able to make a start on the borders.
Fatty: No, I mean with regards to the future of the band.
John: Oh yes, of course. Well I'm in the process of putting together a tribute concert of my own. So far I've been in touch with Marc Bolan, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin and John Lennon but I'm still waiting to hear back from them.
Fatty: What about Michael Jackson?
John: Ooh! That's a good idea. Do you have his number?
Fatty: I'll text it to you.
Fatty: Well that's all I have time for tonight. Until next time, thank you John.
John: A pleasure as always fatty.