Fiona Finch discovers how Preston born postman Ian Beattie became a tribute star - and kept his day job. Here he talks about the demands and joys of his new career.
Don’t stop him now, for Ian Beattie is living a right royal dream.
His whirlwind success story has more than a touch of Bohemian Rhapsody.
For while by day Ian earns his living as a local postman, by night he has another persona altogether.
The happily married father of two’s alter ego is none other than that of Queen star Freddie Mercury.
The former Preston schoolboy, who attended English Martyrs Primary and Corpus Christi High School, strides out under stage name Ian Adams and rekindles those 1980s’ years when Queen frontman Freddie Mercury commanded international stardom.
The strutting and singing contrast with his previous show business experiences.
Ian used to perform his own compositions and play guitar but noted that the occasional “Queen” number went down very well.
It was the cue to go back home and practise and practise to perfect his impressions of Freddie, spending hours studying recordings of the legendary star to ensure he could copy his mannerisms and moves perfectly and recreate the high energy performances which were essentially Mercury.
Ian, who says “Musically I’m blessed with quite a high range” then began to perform his Freddie tribute solo act.
Ian, formerly of Fulwood, now lives in Euxton with wife Michelle and children (pictured), says: “I just kind of fell into it. I’d noticed the Queen songs seemed to be the ones the audience appreciated the most. I went behind closed doors and just worked on it for months and months – that was two years ago and it’s just kind of expanded.”
He continues: “I had to work so much on every aspect, particularly mannerisms.”
Freddie’s charisma was another characteristic to cultivate. As for the Freddie moustache – people think Ian’s is real, but in fact it is a fake , although real hair , ‘tash imported from Germany and stuck on for every performance.
His talent was soon spotted and he was invited to join top tribute band ‘QEII the very best of Queen’ some eight months ago and the bookings are rock ’n’ rolling in for both solo and group appearances.
He says: “I’m currently performing all over the country, including outdoor festivals and I’m proud to say I’ve performed in front of 11,000 people in the last three weeks alone.”
Recently he and QEII were at Blackburn’s Thwaites Empire Theatre, where the show was filmed.
His new found show business success means he has had to cut his hours at work to meet his performance commitments and he says his employers have been very supportive in allowing him to change his work schedule.
He has also been offered overseas gigs, but says he declined because of his family commitments – his children are aged eight and five.
His show appeals to all age groups and he recounts: “In January in the space of two weeks I did a 70th birthday party and then I did a ninth birthday party – that says it all. The music just appeals to every age and it always has and I believe personally it always will. It’s so strong.”
Asked to name his favourite song he declines: “There are so many songs, and so many claims – it’s just impossible. But ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is certainly one of them. I tend to get the crowd very much involved in that one.”
Preparation for the shows is not just about vocal dexterity, good acting and perfect replica costumes – he explains the concerts are taxing on energy levels too: “I try to keep the energy level very high when performing. It’s very physical. I’m full on.”
To prepare for this he ensures he works out every day when he is not performing: “I do press ups and planks every day and I do a lot of walking. I’m a postman so I walk 10 to 12 miles a day.”
Although it’s a serious business getting Freddie right ultimately the emphasis is on fun: “The more fun we have the more fun the audience have with it. I always do a posh accent on stage – I try to make it as authentic as possible.”
His show business career is not completely surprising when his family history is taken into account. He has followed in his father’s footsteps as dad Trevor used to be pub, club and cabaret singer: “My father was a singer so I know it as in the blood and I just kind of followed in his footsteps. I remember as a child watching him performing a lot. He was a big ‘Queen’ fan. I was brought up watching Queen with my dad.”
Nor is Ian going to be bowled away by the fame. He says the best bit and the joy of his new role is just how much people enjoy the show – and it doesn’t matter if his audience is small or large.
He recalls:”It’s just the joy it brings to people. I can’t believe how much they love the show. They throw themselves into it – it’s a bit like a magician. You know it’s a trick you know it’s not real, but for those moments you believe it’s real and it’s magic.”
His most poignant and one of his most rewarding performances was for a terminally ill lady from East Lancashire whose carers asked could he go and perform at her house: “It was the last wish on her bucket list.
“She had always wanted to see Freddie Mercury. It was a mercy mission, I always do a few charities a year to give back.
“It was probably the best gig I have ever done. I put a few lights up and we had a whale of a time. They were so made up. It was just such a beautiful thing. It was heart warming.”