Singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury was born on the 5th September 1946, in Zanzibar, Tanzania. ‘Freddie Mercury’ was only used as his stage name, as his real name was Farrokh Bulsara. He became popular in his singing career when he formed the band Queen in the 1970s, as a lead singer along with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.
In his late teens, Freddie Mercury together with his family fled the Zanzibar Revolution and moved to Middlesex, England. In London, Mercury attended the Ealing Technical College and School of Art, where he studied graphic arts and design, obtaining his degree in 1969.
After graduating, Mercury began singing with various bands in London. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, were the first part of a Band called ‘Smile’. The lead singer of ‘Smile’ quit when Freddie Mercury joined the group as a frontman. He soon changed the group’s name to ‘Queen’. A year later Queen became a group of four when bassist John Deacon joined. Deacon incorporated elements of heavy metal and glam rock.
All four pursued different career paths before joining the band, and in fact had obtained degrees in different areas of study. Brian May, received a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy, John Deacon had a doctorate in electrical engineering and Roger Taylor trained as a dentist.
In 1973, the band released their first self-titled album with the name Queen, followed by Queen II the year after. Both albums did not attract much attention beyond the United Kingdom. Albums Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera (1975) both dominated in international charts. Mercury wrote numerous hits for Queen, including ‘Killer Queen’, ‘We will Rock you’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Somebody to Love’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘We are the Champions’. In the song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Mercury showcased his impressive four-octave vocal range. This song hit the Top 10 in the United States and topped the charts in Britain.
Mercury was at the time considered one of the best talented and innovative singers of the rock era. He was a skilled showman and knew how to entertain audiences. In the live shows, he used to wear various costumes, often featuring skintight spandex and dazzling catsuits.
Freddie Mercury was not very open about his personal life. In the early 1970s, Mercury had a long-term relationship with Mary Austin, whom he had asked to marry. Six years after their engagement and living together, they grew apart and Mercury confided in her that he was bisexual. He later had a relationship with Jim Hutton. The couple lived together until Freddie’s death at age 45.
Mercury was diagnosed with AIDs in late April 1987. He kept his illness secret from the public until the day before he died when he released a statement claiming that he has been tested HIV-positive. “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.” On the 24th
November 1991, Freddie Mercury died at his London mansion. The band members were devastated when they got to know about the news of his illness, nonetheless, Mercury did everything he could to continue writing and singing until his final breath.
To honour his memory, the Freddie Mercury tribute concert for AIDS Awareness was held in April 1992 at Wembley Stadium. In 2018, a movie with the name ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was released depicting the rise of the Queen group leading to their legendary Live Aid Performance in 1985.
Have you watched the Bohemian Rhapsody movie?