Queen before Queen
Record Collector #199, March 1996

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No one in Ibex, Wreckage nor Sour Milk Sea had suspected that Freddie was gay. Indeed, as Mike Bersin has pointed out, Freddie had a girlfriend, Mary Austin, at the time. "Ambiguous sexuality was par for the course then," recalls Chris Chesney. "You didn't question it. Anybody who did was totally unhip." Chris and Freddie's friendship was platonic, but close: "He wanted to style me, give me some clothes to wear, and the relationship between us got quite strong. 'Rubber' soon realised there was nothing in it for him."

Ultimately, Freddie's creativity and drive for control within the band had a catastrophic effect on Sour Milk Sea. Gallop and Chesney had been friends since school, and had worked together for more than two years. But within weeks of Freddie's arrival, they were at each other's throats.
Chris Chesney: "When Freddie joined, the band lost its focus. The cohesion between the four of us was significantly weakened. Musically, we were more pastoral than what Freddie was into, he was coming from a different place. He was heavily into Led Zeppelin. I thought the musical frictions were very exciting. We became so un-blues based, whereas before we were stuck on that R&B template."
"Freddie very quickly wanted to change us," adds Jeremy Gallop. "I can remember him trying to make us learn 'Lover'. I can still recall how it went. We were all thinking - me especially - 'Fucking hell, this isn't the way we want to go!' If only we couid relive life again! But Freddie was a very sweet man. He was a very good arbitrator. Chris and I used to argue like hell. I used to have fights with the bass player - and get beaten up - and Fred was always the one who'd cool down the situation with diplomacy.
"Onstage," Jeremy continues, "Freddie became a different personality - he was as electric as he was later in his life. Otherwise he was quite calm. I'll always remember him being strangely quiet and very well-mannered. Extremely well-mannered, in fact. My mum liked him."
Jeremy continues: "Rather shamefully, I ended the band. I could see that Chris was sidling up to Freddie's way of thinking, so I aft. It was more pop, and at that time, pop was rather uncool. Sour Milk Sea was always a bit of a fiery band. Temperamental. And it was drawing to a close anyway, actually. There was quite a lot of hostility there at dial time - not between Freddie and myself- but between Chris and me. We'd really had enough of each other. Fortunately, we're great mates again now, 25 years on."

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