Elton John was one of the few people that Freddie Mercury saw during his final days.
The legendary Queen frontman kept a tightknit circle of friends before he tragically lost his battle against AIDS in 1991, including the Rocketman singer.
Elton, who has embarked on his final ever tour, described the agony of watching his friend deteriorate before his eyes as the cruel illness ravaged his body.
“I’d seen what the disease had done to so many of my other friends,” Elton explained in his 2013 book. “I knew exactly what it was going to do to Freddie. As did he. He knew death, agonising death, was coming.”
The pair were incredibly close pals and Elton credits Freddie with saving his life at the height of his drug problems – with the Queen singer begging him to go into rehab as his cocaine addiction spiralled out of control.
Freddie had been diagnosed with AIDS in 1987 but kept it secret for as long as possible because he wanted to protect his fans and loved ones – only announcing it publicly just one day before he died aged just 45.
Devastated Elton could only spend limited time at the Queen frontman’s bedside because he found what was happening to him so upsetting.
In his memoir, Elton wrote: “He was too frail to get out of bed, he was losing his sight, his body was covered in Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions, and yet he was still definitely Freddie, gossiping away, completely outrageous.
“I couldn’t work out whether he didn’t realise how close to death he was or if he knew perfectly well but was determined not to let what was happening to him stop him being himself.”
But Elton was determined the Bohemian Rhapsody star would feel loved as his health declined against the disease.
The extent of his illness was known only to those closest to him and back in 2017 bandmate Brian May revealed it had actually cost Freddie his foot.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, May said: “The problem was actually his foot, and tragically there was very little left of it.
“Once, he showed it to us at dinner. And he said, ‘Oh Brian, I’m sorry I’ve upset you by showing you that’.
“And I said, ‘I’m not upset, Freddie, except to realise you have to put up with all this terrible pain’.”
For the final two years of his life, Freddie lived in almost total seclusion and looked visibly thin and frail in his final appearance in a Queen video.
He did finally tell his bandmates about his diagnosis but one person he refused to tell was his best friend and fellow singer, Peter Straker, and even cut him out of his list during his final years so he wouldn’t find out.
Even in his final days, Freddie was determined to think of others and spent his last days recording Queen’s final album, Made In Heaven, which was released following his death.
Freddie also bought thoughtful Christmas presents, which were delivered after he passed away, including one for his close pal Elton.
Elton opened his front door to find a friend carry a gift from Freddie wrapped in a pillowcase.
It was a painting by Henry Scott Tuke, one of the Candle In The Wind singer’s favourite artists, and was accompanied with a heartbreaking note.
It read: “Dear Sharon, I thought you’d like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas.”
This was an adorable nod to the pair’s nicknames for one another as they had given each other drag queen names.