If you saw the Bohemian Rhapsody movie than you’re familiar with the “villainy” of Paul Prenter, Freddie Mercury’s boyfriend and manager from 1977 to 1986.
We’re not certain how accurate the film was in portraying Prenter, played by British actor Allen Leech, in terms of his manipulative and opportunistic ways as explained in this blurb from The Metro (spoilers):
Not only does he trick Mercury into firing band manager John Reid (Aidan Gillen), but he then tries to interfere with Queen’s musical direction, before taking Mercury to Berlin, keeping him away from the rest of the band and Mercury’s best friend Mary
One thing is certain, Prenter sold stories on Mercury and this Daily Mirror article does a really great job of summarizing some of the facts on how Prenter did betray Mercury by selling stories of the flamboyant star to the tabloids.
Paul Prenter Exposes Mercury; Sells Stories and His Soul
What the film did get right was that after Mercury and Prenter broke up after Mercury decided to give up drinking, drugs and partying. After that, the vindictive former DJ ran to sell his Freddie Mercury stories to the media.
Prenter held nothing back sharing details about Mercury’s personal life, his lovers and vices. He claimed Mercury had slept with hundreds of men and that two of his former lovers had died of AIDs.
‘Freddie was so scared he would catch it. “It was more likely that I would see him walk on water than go with a woman,” Prenter said. “Once his friends started dying, Freddie knew his wild life had to stop…. Freddie told me his first homosexual relationship happened when he was at boarding school in India when he was 14,” he said. “While we were touring there would be a different man every night, He would probably go to bed by 6am or 7am – but rarely alone. He has a fear of sleeping alone, or even being alone for long stretches.’
When that interview came out, Prenter was still Mercruy’s manager. Needless to say, Mercury fired Prenter as his manger immediately after the story broke.
However, that didn’t stop the horrible Prenter from continuing to get back at Mercury and sell their most-personal stories to the tabloids. According to Mercury’s partner Jim Hutton, Queen’s lead singer felt what Prenter did was was the ultimate betrayal. Hutton recounts another Mercury tabloid story in his book Mercury and Me
“On May 4, Freddie was devastated by another story about him in the Sun. And so was I. His old friend, Paul Prenter had stitched him up. “Aids Kills Freddie’s Two Lovers, it declared, and the story was run across three pages. Tony Bastin, from Brighton, and John Murphy, an airline steward, had died from the disease in 1986. And Prenter claimed that Freddie had called him late one night and poured out his fears about Aids.”
Keep in mind that this was in the 1980s when AIDS was at it’s worst — not only was it a death sentence, but the hysteria and stigma of the autoimmune disease would have ruined Mercury’s reputation for years to come. All this, as the Hutton mentioned, so Prenter could get paid.
“We later learned that Prenter had been paid about £32,000 by the paper for his story,” Hutton wrote. “Freddie never spoke to him again. For the next few days there was more in the Sun, and at each episode of Prenter’s story Freddie became angrier. Prenter sold the paper several photographs of Freddie with various lovers and these were thrown over two pages under the heading All The Queen’s Men.”
“…what I found out was he was never more than an arm’s length away from Freddie, he was always whispering in his ear, on his shoulder. That was very telling.” Leech told The Metro when speaking about how he researched the Prenter role. “Once I saw that and saw how he acted and the control he tried to have over Freddie, even in the party or clubbing situation, that was very telling for me.”
What Happened to Paul Prenter?
As far as we know, the two never reconciled. That’s completely understandable for Mercury whom felt completely betrayed by someone that he considered a confidant and family. In August 1991, four years after selling his stories to the British tabloids, Prenter died from AIDS-related complications.
Freddie Mercury would pass away three months later on November 23, 1991. Mercury confirmed that he had AIDS a day before he died.