Freddie Mercury's heartbreaking AIDS statement the day before he died

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Freddie Mercury performing with Queen at Wembley Stadium in 1986. (Getty)
Freddie Mercury performing with Queen at Wembley Stadium in 1986. (Getty)

This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series

It was just 24 hours before his death that Queen frontman Freddie Mercury finally admitted to the world that he had been diagnosed with AIDS. 

The singer of the rock band Queen - one of the biggest-selling groups of all time - released his statement on this day in 1991.

In the heartbreaking message, he said, "Following enormous conjecture in the press, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS.

"I felt it correct to keep this information private in order to protect the privacy of those around me.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 01:  MADISON SQUARE GARDEN  Photo of Freddie MERCURY and QUEEN, Freddie Mercury performing in stage  (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
Freddie Mercury performing on stage (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

"However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease."

Speculation had abounded about Mercury’s health: he looked frail and thin in a video for These Are the Days of Our Lives, and had stopped touring for several years. 

He had only told his bandmates that he was ill two years previously, although confidants said he had been aware he had contracted the virus as early as 1987. 

Freddie Mercury, Queen, Live Aid, 13 July 1985 Wembley Stadium, London. (Photo by Solomon N’Jie/Getty Images)
Freddie Mercury on stage at Live Aid (Photo by Solomon N’Jie/Getty Images)
Floral tribute from Elton John at Freddie Mercury's funeral at West London Crematorium, 27th November 1991. (Photo by Ken Lennox/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Floral tribute from Elton John at Freddie Mercury's funeral at West London Crematorium (Photo by Ken Lennox/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

But when he recorded Queen’s last single, The Show Must Go On, he was in extreme physical pain, his bandmates revealed in a new documentary..

Queen guitarist Brian May told a new BBC documentary, Freddie Mercury: The Final Act, ‘"When he came in he wasn't in a great state. He was finding it hard to walk, even finding it hard to sit. 

“He said, 'Bring the vodka,' he pours himself a shot, knocks it down and then he props himself up, knocks another vodka back and then he went for it. Those notes came out of him and I don't know where they came from."

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Freddie Mercury’s long-standing personal assistant, Peter ‘Phoebe’ Freestone said that the announcement had been planned for a while, but the timing was only decided after Mercury had come home to his Kensington house to die. 

Freestone said, "There was a plan to make the announcement before Freddie died, but that was as far as it went.

"After Freddie came back from Switzerland on the 10th November 1991 and made his decision to stop his medication, it obviously passed through his mind to make the statement.

"He made all his arrangements...I think he just felt and knew it was his time.”

NEW YORK, NY - [July 1982]: MANDATORY CREDIT Bill Tompkins/Getty Images Freddy Mercury of Queen performs at Madison Square Garden July 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)
Freddy Mercury of Queen performs at Madison Square Garden July 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

In the wake of Mercury’s death, the remaining members of Queen performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness at Twickenham stadium to a worldwide TV audience of up to a billion people. 

The proceeds of the concert (which featured an unlikely duet from Elton John and Axl Rose) were used to launch HIV organisation the Mercury Phoenix Trust. 

Watch: Freddie Mercury 'slowly let go of life'

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