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Rock Singer With AIDS Not Likely To Take Public Role

November 24, 1991

LONDON (AP) _ Freddie Mercury’s confirmation he has AIDS was splashed across Britain’s tabloids Sunday, but the reclusive rock singer is not expected to seek a public role in bringing awareness for the disease.

American basketball star Earvin ″Magic″ Johnson also has received a lot of media attention in Britian in the two weeks since he announced he tested positive for the AIDS virus. Johnson, who has not developed the disease, has become a spokesman for AIDS projects.

But rock critic David Sinclair noted Mercury always has disliked the limelight and said the singer probably is too ill anyway.

″It’s sad in a way that he’s been subject to such persistent and really deplorable attention from the media over this story. They’ve been chasing him on this for years,″ Sinclair told Sky Television News.

In a statement Saturday confirming he has AIDS, the 45-year-old Mercury said: ″My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue.″

Mercury has secluded himself at his west London home in recent months. Photos published Sunday showed him looking frail and gaunt.

His spokeswoman, Roxy Meade, said on Saturday, ″He just wanted to let people know that he has the disease, and that’s as far as it goes.″

An AIDS charity director said Mercury’s disclosure would help others, however.

″Freddie’s announcement is a tremendously brave step which will bring new strength and comfort to those with AIDS and will also help to save lives,″ said Dr. Patrick Dixon, founder of AIDS Care Education and Training.

″I expect there will be many more such announcements in the future as more and more well-known public figures become ill,″ he said.

After speculating for weeks that Mercurcy might have AIDS, British tabloids gave his confirmation big play. ″Freddie: I’ve Got AIDS,″ News of the World screamed in 2-inch type.

But the broadsheets were subdued. The Independent on Sunday devoted one paragraph to the story. The Observer gave Mercury’s announcement seven paragraphs, while filling the front page of a feature section with Johnson’s story and a color picture of the basketball player in his Los Angeles Lakers uniform.

British news reports focused on the flamboyant lifestyle of Mercury, who was born Frederick Bulsara in Zanzibar, the son of a government accountant.

″Queen’s Greatest Hits,″ which includes the songs ″We Are Champions″ and ″Crazy Little Thing Called Love,″ remains one of the top-selling albums. Mercury’s solo efforts such as ″The Great Pretender″ also were hits.

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