Jim Hutton and Freddie Mercury with Dorothy the cat, Munich 1986.
The first time Jim Hutton met Freddie Mercury, he told him to “fuck off.” They were in the Copacabana, a gay club in the basement of a hotel in South Kensington, one weekend in late 1983. Jim was at the bar with his lover, John Alexander, drinking from a can of lager. When John went to the lavatory, Freddie pushed his way through the crowd and offered to buy Jim a drink. Jim, who had almost a full can in his hand, said, “No, thank you.” When Freddie then asked what he was doing that night, Jim told him to “Fuck off.” Freddie quietly wandered back to join his friends.
When John returned, Jim told him someone had just tried to chat him up. John asked, “Who?” Jim pointed him out—a slight figure with a mustache in jeans and a white t-shirt. He wasn’t Jim’s type—he preferred his men “bigger and butcher.” John was dumbfounded. Didn’t he know who that was? “That’s Freddie Mercury,” he said. “Freddie who?” The name meant nothing to Jim, who carried on sipping his beer.
Eighteen months later, on Saturday, March 23rd, 1985, Jim had been out drinking for most of the day. Instead of going home to his rented rooms in Sutton, he decided to spend his last five quid on a night out in Heaven—the large gay nightclub at Charing Cross. Usually, Jim didn’t go to clubs like Heaven. He thought they were too large, anonymous, and noisy. But that night, he wanted to dance. As he stood at the bar, a slight figure slipped in beside him and offered to buy him a drink. It was that bloke from the Copacabana again, Freddie whatsit? Slightly tipsy, Jim’s defenses were down and he offered to buy Freddie a drink. “A large vodka,” came the reply. There went most of Jim’s five quid.
Freddie then asked, “How big’s your dick?” It was his usual opening gambit. Jim ignored him saying something like, “Well, you’ll have to find out,” before telling the singer to drop the phony American accent. “But I don’t have an American accent.” Freddie protested before inviting Jim to join him and his friends.
What Jim didn’t know was that Freddie had spent part of the previous eighteen months checking up on him. He had found out where Jim drank and would send one of his assistants in to see if he was at the bar. Freddie liked men who looked like burly truck drivers. Though Jim didn’t quite fit that bill—he was a hairdresser—he did have the look that Freddie found utterly desirable.
Freddie invited Jim back to his apartment on Stafford Terrace, where they eventually fell drunkenly into bed, cuddling and talking until they fell asleep. When they awoke, they continued talking where they left off. Freddie made Jim tea, then they exchanged phone numbers. It was the start of their relationship that lasted until Freddie’s untimely death in November 1991.
Long before same-sex marriage ceremonies, Freddie called Jim his husband and they exchanged rings. Freddie wore his until the day he died.
I met Jim a few times when I was producing a documentary on Freddie’s friendship with Kenny Everett in 2002. He was a charming, warm-hearted and genuinely kind man. Straightforward, down-to-earth, and instantly likable. It was easy to see why Freddie fell for him. Jim sadly died in 2010.
The following photographs give some idea of the great love Jim and Freddie had for each other. The pictures come mainly from Jim’s personal collection, many of which were included in his memoir about Freddie, Mercury and Me.
The very first time Freddie Mercury took Jim Hutton to see his home Garden Lodge, 1985.
Freddie and Jim at the start of their relationship.
What Jim described as ‘sparring partners’ with Freddie on Queen’s ‘Magic’ tour 1986.
More photos of Jim and Freddie, after the jump…