Fangirl Fridays – Freddie Mercury



It happened one evening in late 1975. I was sitting with friends in a small apartment, my BF just came back from a few days in London, England. He always brought with him new vinyl records and music albums. (For you young readers: A vinyl record is a disk made from vinyl plastic. The sound is recorded on a very fine line or groove that goes around and around in a spiral from the outside edge of the disk to the center...)

Ancient artifact: vinyl record!

In that era, before the Internet brought the world together as a global village, I was living in a small provincial country far away from the “centers” of the world. New music, bands, and singers (together with many other things) came to us very late; sometimes it took months or a whole year.

So, if you remember, I was sitting... BF placed the new record on the record player, with a mysterious smile on his lips, the record started playing, and my (music) world changed forever.

This new record was A Night at the Opera, by a British rock group I didn’t know of called Queen. Track number 9, Love of My Life, did me in. Lead singer Freddie Mercury’s voice filled the room and I was a goner! And still am.

In my opinion, to this day there has never been a greater singer than Freddie Mercury, one of the best performers ever! The range and complexity of his voice are amazing, truly unique. But don’t trust my description to do him justice; let your ears be the judge! Biographer David Bret described his voice as escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline in the upper reaches. I agree wholeheartedly!

After the jump, I’ll share some trivia I gathered about the best musician and live performer I’ve ever heard!



A   Freddie Mercury died in November 1991 from AIDS, at a time when it was feared and misunderstood. Freddie and his manager issued a statement confirming that he had AIDS just the day before he died. It had been widely speculated for a couple of years, due to his gaunt appearance and Queen’s sudden lack of touring.

B  Mercury wrote the song “Bicycle Race” in France, watching the Tour de France from his hotel window.

Mercury with a feline friend.
C  Freddie loved Cats. At one point, he had as many as 10 cats. He dedicated an album and a song (“Mr. Bad Guy”) to his cats, and he even wrote a song about his favorite cat, Delilah.

D   One of the possibly greatest rumors about Freddie Mercury involves Princess Diana: One evening in the late 1980s, Freddie Mercury disguised Diana as a man and escorted her into a gay bar in South London. Mercury and Diana were accompanied by comedians Cleo Rocos and Kenny Everett, who helped divert attention from the disguised Diana. Rocos recounted the night in a book serialized in the Sunday Times.

E   Freddie’s family fled to England in 1964 while Zanzibar was undergoing a revolution. Freddie studied art at Isleworth Polytechnic (now West Thames College) in West London; later he took graphic design courses at Ealing College of Art.

F   Farrokh Bulsara is Freddie’s real name. He already called himself Freddie while living in India. He added “Mercury” in 1970, together with the new name for his band, Queen.

G  A Freddie Mercury statue stands in Monteux, Switzerland overlooking Lake Genève as a tribute to Mercury. It was unveiled on 25 November 1996, by Freddie’s father and Montserrat Caballé (his partner in the song “Barcelona”), with band mates Brian May and Roger Taylor also in attendance.

H  Jim Hutton, the Irishman who worked as a hairdresser for Mercury, was his lover from 1985. They lived together for six years, until Mercury’s death in 1991.

I  I’m Going Slightly Mad” was written by Freddie Mercury. The lyrics are funny and it is a light-hearted song. I love the quirky, humorous video that was shot in black and white.


J  Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury recorded a few songs together in the early 1980s, but they were never released. Rumor has it that things hit a snag when Jackson insisted on bringing his llama to the studio, and Mercury didn’t like working with a llama peeking over his shoulder.


K  At the beginning of his career, Mercury worked for a while in Kensington Market selling secondhand clothes.

L  The infamous Queen Logo was created by Mercury. The lions represent the Leos in the band (Roger Taylor and John Deacon), the Crab is for Brian May’s Cancer sign, and the Fairies are for Freddie’s Virgo.

M  1. Mary Austin was his long-term girlfriend.He described her as the love of his life and the only true friend he had. Mercury even proposed marriage, but when he realized his sexual preferences lay elsewhere, he changed his mind, causing her heartache. Overcoming this, they stayed very close until his end.
Mary nursed him through his final days. He left the bulk of his fortune to her, a thing that caused bitter resentment from the other Queen members. He also left her his ashes, requesting that their burial location remain secret. The song “Love of My Life” was written about her.
2. In 1980, he appeared for the first time with his famous Moustache, which was in the video “Play the Game.” Upset fans sent him disposable razors and black nail varnish.

N  Mercury, on his clothes and Nail polish: I have fun with my clothes onstage; it’s not a concert you’re seeing, it’s a fashion show. I dress to kill, but tastefully. My nail polish? I used to use Biba, now I use Miners. One coat goes on really smooth. The Circus Magazine Tapes, March 1977.


O  “These are the Days of Our Life” is the last music video he was in. It features a painfully thin Freddie.

P  A magician of a Performer, his flamboyant stage persona and charisma with the audience were awe inspiring. Freddie really knew how to move on stage and how to work his audience. His personal flair for costume styling was epic. He was charming, funny, engaging, hypnotic, and mesmerizing all at the same time. I can watch his videos forever and ever, like this one.

Q  Freddie was the lead singer and pianist for one of the most highly acclaimed rock bands in history, Queen, which started back in the late 1960s and has become an enduring favorite of classic rock lovers. Brian May (guitar) and Roger Taylor (drums) were members of a music group called Smile, Freddie was a friend, and in 1970 he joined the group. They changed their name to Queen, John Deacon (bass) joined them, and the result was instrumental (pun intended) to the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

R  On 7 October 1979, Freddie performed with the Royal Ballet. He had never done any ballet before, but it was something he had always wanted to try. The chose to perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” which the orchestra played while he sang live vocals. His first dance was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He performed with skill in front of a packed house with an enthusiastic audience, who loved him and gave him a standing ovation.



S   He wrote most of Queen’s Songs,which were awesome hits!!! Wonderful words, highly emotive and sensitive to a wide range of feelings. Poignant love songs, honeyed ballads, grand rock ‘n’ roll spectacles... Just to mention a few: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Bicycle Race,” “Killer Queen,” “We Are the Champions,” “Barcelona,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and countless others. These songs truly rocked at their core, with a passion not often found in modern formula-driven, commercialized offerings—and they still do, even if today many of them are used for commercials and cell phone ringtones.

T  In 1987, he performed a remake to the Platters’ song, “The Great Pretender.” I am not ashamed to say I am crazy about his version.

U  Freddie is a pretty regUlar guy, he uses regular Biba black nail varnish, regular eye liner, and straightens his hair with regular electric tongs... He wears that star-apparent attitude like a well-fitted pair of trousers. Freddie’s not bent, just camp. Ask him if he’s queer and he’ll turn round and say: I’m gay as a daffodil, dear. He has a habit of saying ‘dear’ at the end of every sentence. NME Magazine, 1974.

V  Freddie had one of the greatest Voices in the music world. His vocal range was astounding; he could warble the sweetest, most lovely melody as perfectly as he belted out a roaring anthem, bringing stadium audiences to their feet en masse. His voice can inspire me to grand actions and melt me into a puddle.

W  We Are the Champions has become an anthem for sporting victories. The song was inducted into the Grammy hall of Fame in 2011. A scientific research concluded that the song was the catchiest in the history of pop music. 

X  Mercury was an acknowledged biseXual, though he didn’t elaborate much to the media (remember the era). Rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones, author of Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury, wrote: This is after all the man who said: “Darling, my attitude is ‘f**k it’; I’m doing everything with everyone.” 

Y  Yes, I am a bit crazy here, I know. Too much trivia? I can watch him and the band on that old “Live at Wembly 1986” video over and over.

Z  Freddie Mercury was born in 1946 on the island of Zanzibar. He attended a boarding school in India, where he had piano lessons from age 7–9. When he was 12, he formed a school band that covered rock ‘n’ roll songs made popular by bands from England. I’m sure his schoolmates were not a bit surprised to find him at the top of the music charts a few years later.

Sadly, the brilliant Freddie Mercury no longer graces our world with his physical presence, but his legacy is immense, and his contributions to music will live in my heart forever.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Merit, for such an entertaining and informative tribute!! He was an extraordinary talent, and I'll never grow tired of watching his amazing performances. I enjoyed learning some new things about him here...and reliving some wonderful memories. :-)

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  2. I'm listening to Bohemian Rhapsody as we speak. Best singer ever, they don't make them like that anymore, sadly.

    Great post Merit :)

    Freyja

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Kathi and Freyja. This mold was destroyed after his voice was created.😊

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  4. Fantastic post Merit, I loved it. The format and trivia was really captivating. From one Queen fan to another, I remember where I was when he died. At boarding school and the news came on the radio in our dorm. I confess I shed a few tears that day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you Angela, I don't remember where I was, but I did shed some tears, what a waste.

      Delete

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