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Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury (5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a musician, best known as the front man, pianist, and vocalist for the English rock band Queen. He was noted for his powerful vocal abilities and for his charisma as a live performer. As a songwriter, he composed many international hits such as "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "We Are the Champions." Mercury died from complications of AIDS, greatly increasing awareness of the disease.
 

Freddie Mercury & Queen

Live Aid 1985

Video Movie Film

Early life

Comment "How could you not love Freddie Mercury, the man was magnetic, his talent amazing, he was larger than life but so like the rest of us...."

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on the African island of Zanzibar (at the time a British colony, now part of Tanzania). His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were Indian Parsis, Zoroastrians of Persian descent. The family had emigrated to Zanzibar in order for Bomi to continue his job as a middle-ranking cashier at the British Colonial Office. Mercury had one younger sister, Kashmira.

Mercury was sent back to India to attend St. Peter's boarding school near Bombay (now Mumbai). It was at St. Peter's where he learned to play the piano and joined his first band. He stayed in India for most of his childhood, living with his grandmother and aunt. Mercury completed his education in India at St. Mary's High School in Mazagon before returning to Zanzibar. He was 17 when he and his family finally fled to England, as a result of the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. In England, he earned a Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, following in the footsteps of Pete Townshend. He later used these skills in order to design the famous Queen crest. Mercury remained a British citizen for the rest of his life.

Singer and performer

Widely considered as one of the greatest vocalists in popular music, Freddie Mercury possessed a very distinctive voice. Although his speaking voice naturally fell in the baritone range, he also maintained good tone in the tenor range. His recorded vocal range spanned nearly four octaves (falsetto included), with his lowest recorded note being the F1 (F2 in U.S.) and his highest recorded note being the D5 (D6 in U.S.). In addition to vocal range, Mercury often delivered technically difficult songs in a powerful manner. However, due in part to the fact that he suffered from vocal nodules (for which he declined surgery), he would often lower the highest notes during many concerts.Mercury also claimed that he never had any formal vocal training.

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Queen - Under Review - 1946 - 1991 - The Freddie Mercury Story : DVD

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Mercury was also noted as one of the great performers in rock music. In particular, he was known for his ability to command large stadium audiences in concerts around the world. He was also noted for his performance at Live Aid, which was voted by music journalists in 2005 as the greatest live rock performance of all time. One of Mercury's trademarks throughout the years involved the use of a microphone and stand minus the bottom section. In his early years of singing he made the decision to pick up his microphone, still attached to the stand. At one particular event, the bottom fell off by accident and, from that point on, he decided to use a bottomless microphone stand.

 

Songwriting

As a songwriter, Mercury wrote ten out of the seventeen songs on Queen's Greatest Hits album, including "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Killer Queen," "Somebody to Love," "Don't Stop Me Now," "We Are the Champions," and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." However, by the 1980s, all four members of the band were writing hits. The most notable aspect of his songwriting involved the wide range of different genres that he used, which included, among other styles, rockabilly, heavy metal and disco. Compared to many popular songwriters, many of Freddie Mercury's songs were musically complex. As an example, "Bicycle Race" is set in seven different key signatures and contains continuous meter changes (i.e. the bridge is in 3/4, while verses and choruses are in 4/4). On the other hand, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" is made up of only a few chords. Despite the fact that Mercury often wrote very intricate harmonies, he claimed that he could barely read music.

Although all four members of the band Queen were songwriters, producer Gary Langhan, who worked in the studio with Queen on many of their early albums, notes in the book Freddie Mercury: The Real Life that "Freddie was always intensely supportive of other people's songwriting and would give as much attention to one of the other's as he would to his own. It was so unlike other bands I've worked with where there is an acknowledged songwriter and anyone else who writes one really has to hassle to get it anywhere." Mercury wrote most of his songs on the piano, often choosing keys that were technically difficult for band mate and guitarist Brian May (e.g. E flat major). Although he possessed only rudimentary skills on the guitar, Mercury wrote many lines and riffs (e.g. those for "Ogre Battle," and "Bohemian Rhapsody") for the instrument. He also wrote "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" on the guitar.

Solo Work

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In addition to his work with Queen, Mercury also produced two solo albums, "Mr. Bad Guy" and "Barcelona." The former album, released in 1984, was not considered to have been a commercial success. "Barcelona," recorded with opera singer Montserrat Caballé," was one of the first albums to combine elements of popular music and opera. Caballe said of Mercury, "He was not only a popular singer, he was a musician, that could sit at the piano and compose. He discovered a new way to bring different music styles together. He is the first and only person to have done this." In September of 2006, a new album featuring Mercury's solo work was released in the UK in honour of what would have been his sixtieth birthday.

Over the years, rare Freddie Mercury solo albums have greatly increased in value. For instance, a Japanese single of the song "Guide Me Home" from the Barcelona album is now worth as much as £1,000 ($1,800). Another valuable item is a 1973 cover of the 1969 Beach Boys song, I Can Hear Music recorded under the stage name Larry Lurex. Widely bootlegged, the original record is now a valuable collectible.

With Michael Jackson, Mercury collaborated on some tracks which were never officially released, including There Must Be More To Life Than This and State Of Shock. The latter song, released on the 1984 Victory album, was ultimately performed by Mick Jagger and The Jacksons. Mercury was originally scheduled to appear on the Thriller album as well.

Freddie Mercury rock musician 1978

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Freddie Mercury in 1978

 

Influences

As a child, Freddie Mercury's parents listened to a great deal of Indian music, and one of his early influences was the Bollywood playback singer, Lata Mangeshkar. According to Record Collector magazine, after moving to England, Mercury became a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Mercury said of Hendrix: "Jimi Hendrix is very important. He's my idol. He sort of epitomizes, from his presentation on stage, the whole works of a rock star. There's no way you can compare him. You either have the magic or you don't. There's no way you can work up to it. There's nobody who can take his place." Another of Mercury's favourite performers was singer and actress Liza Minnelli. In a 1975 interview, he says of Minnelli: "Liza, in terms of sheer talent, just oozes with it. She has sheer energy and stamina, which she gets across the stage, and the way she delivers herself to the public is a good influence. There is a lot to learn from her."

Personal life

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Although he had a very close girlfriend named Mary Austin, Freddie Mercury was fairly open about his sexuality. In a March 12, 1974 interview for New Musical Express he told the interviewer: "I am as gay as a daffodil, my dear!" Although his relationship with Mary Austin eventually ended, the two remained very close friends.

He once said of Austin- "All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary (Austin) but it's simply impossible. The only friend I've got is Mary and I don't want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that's enough for me. I couldn't fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary."

His last boyfriend, Jim Hutton, lived with him for the last six years of his life, cared for him when he was ill and was present with him at his bedside when he died. According to Hutton, Mercury referred to him as his husband and died wearing a wedding band that Hutton had given him.

Mercury possessed a notable overbite that had wanted to fix for many years. He commented early in his career that he wished to have work done, but regretted that he did not have time to do it. He also expressed fears that such an operation might damage his voice. While smiling in interviews, Mercury would often cover his mouth with his hand in an attempt to hide the overbite.

 

Death from AIDS

According to the book Mercury and Me by partner Jim Hutton, Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS in the spring of 1987. Despite his claim to have tested negative for HIV in a 1987 interview, the British press nonetheless stalked the singer during the final years of his life. Although rumours about his health were rampant, he continued to deny that he had AIDS. However, from the video for "These Are the Days of Our Lives," which represents Mercury's last appearance on film, it was clear from his gaunt appearance that he was seriously ill. On November 22, 1991 Mercury called Queen's manager Jim Beach over to his Kensington home to discuss a public statement. The following day, November 23, the following announcement was made to the press:

"Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue."

A little over 24 hours after issuing the statement, Freddie Mercury died at home in the presence of close friends at the age of 45. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Although he had not attended religious services in years, Mercury's funeral was conducted by a Zoroastrian priest. He was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery, and the whereabouts of his ashes are unknown, although some believe them to have been dispersed into Lake Geneva. The remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust and organized The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. He left £500 000 to his chef, £500 000 to his personal assistant, £100 000 to his driver and £500 000 to his partner, Jim Hutton. Mary Austin, his life-long friend, inherited the estate and now lives there with her family.

 

Legacy

Recent polls

  • Several recent polls show Freddie Mercury to remain popular in Britain. For instance, in the 1999 Millennium Poll, in which 600,000 Britons participated, he was voted into the number 14, and 15 spots, respectively, as a popular musician and songwriter.
  • Freddie Mercury appears at the No. 58 spot in the 2002 List of "100 Greatest Britons", sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public.
  • Two of Mercury's songs, "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Are the Champions" have each been claimed, in separate polls, as the world's favourite song. Most recently, an Ericsson poll of 600,000 people in 66 different countries found "We Are the Champions" to be the world's most popular tune. This contradicts another major poll by Guinness World, which had previously found "Bohemian Rhapsody" to be the world's most popular song from the past 50 years.
  • The online music community at DigitalDreamDoor has consistently placed Freddie Mercury at the number one position on a list of the 100 greatest rock vocalists.
  • In a list of the greatest English language singers of the 20th century compiled by BBC Radio, Mercury was the highest ranked hard rock vocalist, having been voted at the tenth spot. He also came in second in MTV's list of the 22 greatest singers of the past 25 years.

The world's first Asian rock star

Because Freddie Mercury was of Parsi descent, grew up in India, and did not move to the UK until he was 17, he was arguably the world's first Indian rock star. Due to his Parsi roots he was also, arguably, the world's first Persian rock star.

 

Millennium Stamp

A Royal Mail stamp called The Millennium Stamp commemorated the life of Freddie Mercury. The stamp caused controversy because Queen drummer Roger Taylor could be seen in the background. Members of the British Royal family are the only living people allowed to appear on stamps in the UK.

 

Sixtieth Birthday controversy

On August 25, 2006, an organization calling itself the Islamic Mobilization and Propogation, or UAMSHO, petitioned the Zanzibar government's culture ministry, demanding that a large-scale celebration of what would have been Freddie Mercury's sixtieth birthday be cancelled. UAMSHO has several complaints about the planned celebrations, including that Freddie was not a Muslim, did not live his life in accordance to the laws of Islam, was not a true Zanzibari, and that "associating Mercury with Zanzibar degrades our island as a place of Islam."  The government has yet to respond to the petition.

 

Quotes about Freddie Mercury

  • Freddie Mercury was the one rock star mentioned in singer Kurt Cobain's suicide note :
"I havent [sic] felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things. For example, when we're backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begins, it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddy [sic] Mercury who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd, which is something I totally admire and envy."
  • Although he has long been criticized by gay activists, singer Axl Rose was apparently a devoted Freddie Mercury fan. He has been quoted as saying, "If I didn't have Freddie Mercury's lyrics to hold on to as a kid, I don't know where I would be. It taught me about all forms of music. It would open my mind. I never really had a bigger teacher in my whole life." Rose also performed "Bohemian Rhapsody" along with Elton John at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
  • “The difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was he was selling the voice” Montserrat Caballé."
  • “Freddie, if you’re out there and you want to choose any artist to channel your work, please give me an album, or at least a middle eight” Robbie Williams."

Discography

 

Solo: albums

  • Mr. Bad Guy (1985)
  • Barcelona (1988, with Montserrat Caballé)

Posthumous releases:

  • The Freddie Mercury Album / The Great Pretender [US version] (1992)
  • The Solo Collection (10 CDs and 2 DVDs) (2000)
  • Lover of Life, Singer of Songs - The Very Best of Freddie Mercury Solo (2006)
 

Solo: selected singles

  • Love Kills (1984)
  • I Was Born to Love You (1985)
  • Made in Heaven (1985)
  • Living on My Own (1985)
  • Time (1986)
  • The Great Pretender (1987, re-released 1993)
  • Barcelona (with Montserrat Caballé, 1987, re-released 1992)
  • In My Defence (1992)
  • Living on My Own (No More Brothers remix, 1993)
  • Love Kills (Sunshine People Remixes, 2006)

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Comments

How could you not love Freddie Mercury, the man was magnetic, his talent amazing, he was larger than life but so like the rest of us, I feel so sad that he felt pain and sorrow in the end - hope he had some comfort in knowing what he left us, rest in peace dear Freddie.
In the culture and lack of morals media mudhole the 20th and 21st centuries have been, for FM to keep his privacy (basically) shows how he was loved. It makes think of what the Tinman said in the Wizard of OZ. "Remember a heart is not judged by how much it loves, but how much it is loved by others." RIP brave vulnerable buck-toothed Freddie...no one did it better. No one ever will.
FREDDIE - The most amazing performer ever to grace the Earth! EVER!!!! The GOD OF MUSIC!!!!
King of voice, God & the angels is who you sing for now too, love you forever, thank you for everything, bless you, Starr*
Freddie will continue to live on in our hearts and minds thru his music. I just can't get enough of listening to his wonderful voice. An exciting, talented, sexy, creative  and beautiful man. forever
FREDDIE IS / WAS THE BEST EVER!!!!! The greatest performer on the planet - ever!!!! Freddie didn't just sing a song, he Became the song, putting his whole heart and soul and every ounce of passion into every word.  His voice, with a four octave range, was  the voice of God!. Even though Freddie is gone, his spirit is not! It remains very much alive through all his adoring fans who will pass him and his phenomenal music to the next generation and beyond.Freddie, you will always be in our hearts and our very souls! We love you more than you will ever know!!!!!
FREDDIE - THE GOD OF ROCK - !!!!!!!!
He was a very good singer and his band was like a family
FREDDIE was the most amazing, most stunning, most electrifying stage presence.....ever!!! Not only was he incredibly mesmerizing and dynamic, but he was sheer magic, genius, and phenomenal talent! Freddie was and forever will be THE GOD OF ROCK!!!!!
"Mercury would often cover his mouth with his hand in an attempt to hide the overbite"
this is so sad. :( he was perfect just the way he was. miss you freddie
Great Inspiration!

You are the" Man" I truly Admire you Freddie, and your memories will lived FOREVER!

We will miss you forever Freddy! There is no one like you!

great man, great singer, there will be no one like him again. he will be missed

will always remember him !

What can you say about Freddie? He did it all, great voice. a great man. Love him.

hello. I'm jeffery (I'm a girl) Freddy is a rock legend and he died from aids! OWNED!


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