That televised concert tribute to late Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS last November, may have been all flash, no cash. The press widely reported that profits from the concert, held April 20 at England’s Wembley Stadium (#116) were estimated immediately after the event to reach $35 million, destined for ”AIDS projects worldwide.” Now music industry buzz is that the $35 million figure is grossly inflated. Some ; insiders say that when expenses are deducted, the show actually may have gone into the red. One source even speculates that the concert — which featured such top-name artists as Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, David Bowie, and Metallica — raised only $8 million and that the heavy bills for performers’ deluxe hotel accommodations, among other things, total nearly $12 million.
Key organizers of the event, promoter Harvey Goldsmith and Queen Productions’ publicist Roxy Meade, deny that the show lost money. And both stress that the show was originally intended more as a tribute to Mercury than an actual money raiser.
”The emphasis was always made that this was not a fund-raising exercise,” Meade says. ”The accent was on awareness.” Did the show lose money? ”Certainly not to my knowledge have we ever run at a loss on this show,” she says, ”and there’s still money coming in from different sources.” Goldsmith also says the show made money — though he disputes the initial estimates of $35 million and says he’d be surprised if it raised even $8 million.
So how much did it make? At the Queen office in London, Meade says officials are ”loath to announce any figures at this point because it’s not the final total yet.” Still to be figured in, she says, are profits from various products stemming from the concert which have yet to be released. Such as? ”I can’t be precise,” says Meade, ”because it hasn’t been confirmed at this point.”