September 5 marks what would have been the 73rd birthday of the late Freddie Mercury, who had revealed having AIDS just days before he died of its complications in 1991. Sir Elton John, who was not only a colleague, but also a close friend of the Queen frontman, spoke out about Mercury’s final days – and a poignant last gesture from the Queen singer – in his book Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS, which was released six years ago. Sir Elton noted that when Mercury told him about having AIDS, it left him devastated because this terrible disease had already killed many good people he used to know before. He knew that Freddie was dying and Freddie himself knew it too, though he still performed on stage like nothing happened. The lyrics of the song “Show Must Go On” are not just a set of powerful figures of speech – this is what he really felt every single day since being diagnosed in 1987 up until he died 4 years later. John explained how on the first Christmas after Mercury’s death in 1991, he opened his front door to find a friend with a present from Mercury wrapped in a pillow case. Inside the pillow case, he explained, was a painting by Henry Scott Tuke – one of Sir Elton’s favorite artists – alongside a note addressed to “Sharon” from “Melina”, these were the drag-styled pet nicknames the two legendary musicians have given each other. “I was overcome, 44-years-old at the time, crying like a child,” Sir Elton recalled.