Jim Hutton: The Truth About Freddie Mercury's Partner

In one of roughly two dozen of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody's emotional climaxes, Queen icon Freddie Mercury finally manages to track down the wise but elusive member of his personal waitstaff with whom he'd previously become enamored. "Do you have any idea how many Jim Huttons there are in London?" he asks. "I didn't want to make it too easy for you," Jim replies. It's all very saccharine. It's also, as the young folks say, utter codswallop. The movie lied to you.

Hutton's role in Mercury's life is portrayed in Bohemian Rhapsody as a simple one: A romantic Yoda who, in many ways, fixes the troubled rock star. The unfortunate fact is that it's a fantasy. Hutton didn't work for Freddie, and he didn't disappear in a puff of smoke, inspiring sudden self-reflection on the part of an otherwise irredeemable totem of pop culture vanity. The reality of Jim and Freddie's time together was a lot less cinematic, but at least equally dramatic.

The real life vs. just fantasy

According to Vanity Fair, Freddy and Jim met at a gay bar called Heaven in London. Freddy offered to buy Jim a drink, and Jim, not recognizing Mercury, turned him down. He course corrected a year and a half later when they ran into each other again, and Hutton soon moved in with Queen's lead singer at his Garden Lodge residence. By Hutton's recollection, it wasn't a perfect relationship. He caught Mercury with other men a couple of times, and experienced what sounds a lot like gaslighting: At one point, confronting Mercury after spotting him with another guy at the club where they'd first met years earlier, he was told by the singer that he was just doing it to make him jealous.

In any case, the two stuck together, even after Mercury's 1987 AIDS diagnosis. After Mercury died in 1991, his estranged wife Mary Austin took over the house. Hutton was left half a million dollars by his partner, and moved back home to Ireland, where he died of lung cancer in 2010.