For all his talent (I am a fan) I think everyone would probably agree that Freddie much like Elton John was very single minded and an perhaps an impatient individual. “I want it all” probably describes best his thirst for stardom and control. Freddie was never going to be a team player and shedding his manager and eventually his band mates was always going to be the natural path for a character like him.
What is probably hard to take for Norman and his family is when unfounded rumour is twisted, no doubt mainly by the press who needed a bad guy to portray for a story to build the legend of Queen. I was a school friend of one of Norman’s sons (Russell) and it always stuck in mind how busy Norman was and later after visiting the studios which he had built from nothing I realised why. He and the people who worked for him built a magical place. Norman was not just a very hard working businessman he was a musician and therefore had that perspective and creative understanding….the perfect manager for the band in fact.
I have not read the book yet but a good example of the kind of man Norman is was shown at a small charity fundraiser a couple of years ago organised by his son Russell who I had just got back in contact with after a school reunion. A small stage had been built for the bands playing, the usual maze of leads and amps guitars littered the stage along with a very very nice drum kit.
My son who is a drummer was desperate to have a go…so towards the end of the night when the bands had finished and some recorded music was playing which just happened to be Queen….I told him to go for it. Callum started playing and within 5 minutes I saw Norman walk over to Callum. I watched thinking he was going to get a roasting as they were stuck in deep conversation. Eventually I went over and introduced myself to Norman and went to explain it was all my fault….Norman who didn’t have a clue who I was, was telling Callum that the drum kit had been Paul McCartney’s and Norman had bought the kit off of him many years ago for a considerable sum. It was a treasured possession which he passed down to his son Russell also a talented drummer. Norman had not shouted at him to get off the drum kit but was basically giving him advice on how he should play the drums…at the time he was suffering from throat cancer which made it very hard for him to talk but he spent the next 30 minutes giving Callum the benefit of his experience….eventually I had to drag Callum away as our taxi was waiting.
The measure of Norman is that despite all that pressure he had building his dream he managed to have a beautiful family supported by his equally amazing wife Chris.
I look forward to reading the book Norman as I know it will be an honest/true and measured reflection of that period in music history.