1946-09-05 to 1991-11-24
Tanzania, London, England, United KingdomFreddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the greatest lead singers in the history of rock music, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range.
In 1964, Mercury and his family fled from Zanzibar to escape the violence of the revolution against the Sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government, in which thousands of ethnic Arabs and Indians were killed. They moved into a small house at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, Middlesex, England. After first studying art at Isleworth Polytechnic in West London.
Following graduation, Mercury joined a series of bands and sold second-hand clothes in Kensington Market in London with Roger Taylor. He also held a job as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. Friends from the time remember him as a quiet and shy young man with a great interest in music.
As Zanzibar was a British protectorate until 1963, Mercury was born a British subject, and on 2 June 1969 was registered a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies after the family had emigrated to England.
In the early 1970s, Mercury had a long-term relationship with Mary Austin, whom he met through guitarist Brian May. He lived with Austin for several years in West Kensington, London. By the mid-1970s, he had begun an affair with a male American record executive at Elektra Records.
His first solo effort goes back to 1972 under the pseudonym Larry Lurex, when Trident Studios' house engineer Robin Geoffrey Cable was working in a musical project, at the time when Queen were recording their debut album; Cable enlisted Mercury to perform lead vocals on the songs "I Can Hear Music" and "Goin' Back", both were released together as a single in 1973.
Mercury also wrote six songs from Queen II which deal with multiple key changes and complex material. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", on the other hand, contains only a few chords. Although Mercury often wrote very intricate harmonies, he claimed that he could barely read music.
Mercury wrote 10 of the 17 songs on Queen's Greatest Hits album: "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Seven Seas of Rhye", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy", "We Are the Champions", "Bicycle Race", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", and "Play the Game".
Throughout the early- to mid-1980s, Mercury and Everett continued to explore their homosexuality and experiment with drugs. Although they were never lovers, they did experience London nightlife together.
Mercury contributed to the Richard "Wolfie" Wolf remix of the song "Love Kills", used as the end title theme for National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1. The song was originally recorded in 1984, when it was included on the soundtrack for the restoration of the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis. First written by Giorgio Moroder in collaboration with Mercury, and produced by Moroder and Mack, "Love Kills" debuted at the number 10 position in the UK Singles Chart.
In October 1986, the British press reported that Mercury had his blood tested for HIV/AIDS at a Harley Street clinic. A reporter for The Sun, Hugh Whittow, questioned Mercury about the story at Heathrow Airport as he was returning from Japan. Mercury denied he had the disease. According to his partner Jim Hutton, Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS in late April 1987. Around that time, Mercury claimed in an interview to have tested negative for HIV.
On 22 November 1991, Mercury called Queen's manager Jim Beach to his Kensington home to prepare a public statement, which was released the following day: 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 me, 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.
On the evening of 24 November 1991, about 24 hours after issuing the statement, Mercury died at the age of 45 at his home in Kensington. The cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Mercury's close friend Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five was at the bedside vigil when he died. Austin phoned Mercury's parents and sister to break the news, which reached newspaper and television crews in the early hours of 25 November.
A statue in Montreux, Switzerland, by sculptor Irena Sedlecká, was erected as a tribute to Mercury. It stands almost 10 feet (3 metres) high overlooking Lake Geneva and was unveiled on 25 November 1996 by Mercury's father and Montserrat Caballé, with bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor also in attendance.