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The Info List - Freddie Mercury


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Frederick "Freddie" Mercury
Mercury
(born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. He was known for his flamboyant stage persona and three-octave vocal range.[2][3][4] Mercury
Mercury
wrote numerous hits for Queen, including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", and "We Are the Champions". He led a solo career while performing with Queen, and occasionally served as a producer and guest musician for other artists. Mercury
Mercury
was born of Parsi
Parsi
descent in the Sultanate of Zanzibar, and grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England, in his teens. He formed Queen
Queen
in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Mercury
Mercury
died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS, having confirmed the day before his death that he had contracted the disease. In 1992, Mercury
Mercury
was posthumously awarded the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and a tribute concert was held at Wembley Stadium, London. As a member of Queen, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2002, he was placed number 58 in the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He is consistently voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.[5][6][4][7]

Contents

1 Early life 2 Career

2.1 Singer 2.2 Songwriter 2.3 Live performer 2.4 Instrumentalist 2.5 Solo career

3 Personal life

3.1 Relationships 3.2 Friendship with Kenny Everett 3.3 Sexual orientation 3.4 Personality

4 Illness and death 5 Legacy

5.1 Continued popularity 5.2 Posthumous Queen
Queen
album 5.3 Tributes 5.4 Importance in AIDS
AIDS
history 5.5 Appearances in lists of influential individuals 5.6 Portrayal on stage 5.7 Portrayals in film and television

5.7.1 Biopic film 5.7.2 Other portrayals

6 Discography 7 Notes 8 References 9 Bibliography 10 External links

Early life

The house in Zanzibar
Zanzibar
where Mercury
Mercury
lived in his early years

Mercury
Mercury
was born Farrokh Bulsara (Gujarati: ફારોખ બલસારા, Pharōkh Balsārā‌) in Stone Town
Stone Town
in the British protectorate of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, East Africa (now part of Tanzania) on 5 September 1946.[8][9] His parents, Bomi (1908–2003) and Jer Bulsara (1922–2016),[a][10] were Parsis from the Gujarat
Gujarat
region of the then-province of Bombay Presidency
Bombay Presidency
in British India.[b][11] As Parsis, Mercury
Mercury
and his family practised the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
religion.[12] The Bulsara family had moved to Zanzibar
Zanzibar
so that his father could continue his job as a cashier at the British Colonial Office. He had a younger sister, Kashmira.[13] Mercury
Mercury
spent most of his childhood in India and began taking piano lessons at the age of seven.[14] In 1954, at the age of eight, Mercury was sent to study at St. Peter's School, a British-style boarding school for boys, in Panchgani
Panchgani
near Bombay (now Mumbai).[15] At the age of 12, he formed a school band, The Hectics, and covered rock and roll artists such as Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard
and Little Richard.[16][17] It has been said that one of his formative musical influences at the time was Bollywood
Bollywood
singer Lata Mangeshkar,[18] but one of Mercury's former bandmates from the Hectics has said that "that is a lot of rubbish. The only music he listened to, and played, was Western pop music."[19] A friend from the time recalls that he had "an uncanny ability to listen to the radio and replay what he heard on piano".[20] It was also at St. Peter's where he began to call himself "Freddie", and in February 1963 he moved back to Zanzibar
Zanzibar
where he joined his parents at their flat.[21]

English Heritage
English Heritage
blue plaque at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, London

At the age of 17, Mercury
Mercury
and his family fled from Zanzibar
Zanzibar
for safety reasons due to the 1964 Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Revolution,[22] in which thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed.[23] The family moved into a small house at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, Middlesex, England. Mercury
Mercury
enrolled at Isleworth
Isleworth
Polytechnic (now West Thames College) in West London where he studied art. He ultimately earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College
Ealing Art College
(now the Ealing campus of University of West London), later using these skills to design the Queen
Queen
heraldic arms. A British citizen at birth, Mercury
Mercury
remained so for the rest of his life.[15] Following graduation, Mercury
Mercury
joined a series of bands and sold second-hand clothes in the Kensington
Kensington
Market in London
London
with girlfriend Mary Austin. He also held a job at Heathrow Airport. Friends from the time remember him as a quiet and shy young man who showed a great deal of interest in music.[24] In 1969 he joined the Liverpool-based band Ibex, later renamed Wreckage. He lived briefly in a flat above the Liverpool
Liverpool
pub, The Dovedale Towers.[25][26] When this band failed to take off, he joined a second band called Sour Milk Sea. However, by early 1970 this group had broken up as well.[27] In April 1970 Mercury
Mercury
joined guitarist Brian May
Brian May
and drummer Roger Taylor who had previously been in a band called Smile. In 1971 they were joined by bassist John Deacon. Despite reservations of the other members and Trident Studios, the band's initial management, Mercury chose the name "Queen" for the new band. He later said, "It's very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It's a strong name, very universal and immediate. I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it."[28] At about the same time, he changed his surname, Bulsara, to Mercury.[29] Mercury designed Queen's logo, called the Queen
Queen
crest, shortly before the release of the band's first album.[30] The logo combines the zodiac signs of all four members: two lions for Leo (Deacon and Taylor), a crab for Cancer (May), and two fairies for Virgo (Mercury).[30] The lions embrace a stylised letter Q, the crab rests atop the letter with flames rising directly above it, and the fairies are each sheltering below a lion.[30] There is also a crown inside the Q and the whole logo is over-shadowed by an enormous phoenix. The whole symbol bears a passing resemblance to the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, particularly with the lion supporters.[30] Career Singer

Freddie Mercury
Mercury
in 1977

Mercury's known vocal range

Although Mercury's speaking voice naturally fell in the baritone range, he delivered most songs in the tenor range.[31] His known vocal range extended from bass low F (F2) to soprano high F (F6).[32] He could belt up to tenor high F (F5).[32] 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."[33] Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, with whom Mercury recorded an album, expressed her opinion that "the difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was that he was selling the voice".[34] She adds,

His technique was astonishing. No problem of tempo, he sang with an incisive sense of rhythm, his vocal placement was very good and he was able to glide effortlessly from a register to another. He also had a great musicality. His phrasing was subtle, delicate and sweet or energetic and slamming. He was able to find the right colouring or expressive nuance for each word.[32]

The Who
The Who
lead singer Roger Daltrey
Roger Daltrey
called Mercury
Mercury
"the best virtuoso rock 'n' roll singer of all time. He could sing anything in any style. He could change his style from line to line and, God, that's an art. And he was brilliant at it."[35] A research team undertook a study in 2016 to understand the appeal behind Mercury's voice.[36] Led by Professor Christian Herbst, the team identified his notably faster vibrato and use of subharmonics as unique characteristics of Mercury's voice, particularly in comparison to opera singers, and confirmed a vocal range from F#2 to G5 (just over 3 octaves) but were unable to confirm claims of a 4-octave range.[37] The research team studied vocal samples from 23 commercially available Queen
Queen
recordings, his solo work, and a series of interviews of the late artist. They also used an endoscopic video camera to study a rock singer brought in to imitate Mercury's singing voice.[38][37] Songwriter Mercury
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".[39] In 2003 Mercury
Mercury
was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2005 he was posthumously awarded an Ivor Novello Award
Ivor Novello Award
for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.[40][41] The most notable aspect of his songwriting involved the wide range of genres that he used, which included, among other styles, rockabilly, progressive rock, heavy metal, gospel and disco. As he explained in a 1986 interview, "I hate doing the same thing again and again and again. I like to see what's happening now in music, film and theatre and incorporate all of those things."[42] Compared to many popular songwriters, Mercury
Mercury
also tended to write musically complex material. For example, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is acyclic in structure and comprises dozens of chords.[43][44] He also wrote six songs from Queen II
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. Despite the fact that Mercury
Mercury
often wrote very intricate harmonies, he also claimed that he could barely read music.[45] He wrote most of his songs on the piano and used a wide variety of different key signatures.[43] Live performer

Mercury
Mercury
performing live in September 1984

Mercury
Mercury
was noted for his live performances, which were often delivered to stadium audiences around the world. He displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd. A writer for The Spectator
The Spectator
described him as "a performer out to tease, shock and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself."[46] David Bowie, who performed at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
and recorded the song "Under Pressure" with Queen, praised Mercury's performance style, saying: "Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest... he took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights. I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand."[47] Queen
Queen
guitarist Brian May
Brian May
wrote that Mercury
Mercury
could make "the last person at the back of the furthest stand in a stadium feel that he was connected".[48] Mercury's main prop on stage was a broken microphone stand, which after accidentally snapping off the heavy base during an early performance, he realised could be used in endless ways.[49] One of Mercury's most notable performances with Queen
Queen
took place at Live Aid
Live Aid
in 1985. Queen's performance at the event has since been voted by a group of music executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock music. The results were aired on a television program called "The World's Greatest Gigs".[50][51] Mercury's powerful, sustained note during the a cappella section came to be known as "The Note Heard Round the World".[52] In reviewing Live Aid in 2005, one critic wrote, "Those who compile lists of Great Rock Frontmen and award the top spots to Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, etc all are guilty of a terrible oversight. Freddie, as evidenced by his Dionysian
Dionysian
Live Aid
Live Aid
performance, was easily the most godlike of them all."[53] Over the course of his career, Mercury
Mercury
performed an estimated 700 concerts in countries around the world with Queen. A notable aspect of Queen
Queen
concerts was the large scale involved.[42] He once explained, "We're the Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
of rock and roll, always wanting to do things bigger and better."[42] The band was the first ever to play in South American stadiums, breaking worldwide records for concert attendance in the Morumbi Stadium
Morumbi Stadium
in São Paulo in 1981.[54] In 1986, Queen
Queen
also played behind the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
when they performed to a crowd of 80,000 in Budapest, in what was one of the biggest rock concerts ever held in Eastern Europe.[55] Mercury's final live performance with Queen
Queen
took place on 9 August 1986 at Knebworth Park in England and drew an attendance estimated as high as 160,000.[56] With the British national anthem "God Save the Queen" playing at the end of the concert, Mercury's final act on stage saw him draped in a robe, holding a golden crown aloft, bidding farewell to the crowd.[57] Instrumentalist

Mercury
Mercury
playing rhythm guitar during a live concert with Queen
Queen
in Frankfurt, Germany, 1984.

As a young boy in India, Mercury
Mercury
received formal piano training up to the age of nine. Later on, while living in London, he learned guitar. Much of the music he liked was guitar-oriented: his favourite artists at the time were The Who, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin. He was often self-deprecating about his skills on both instruments and from the early 1980s began extensively using guest keyboardists. Most notably, he enlisted Fred Mandel (a Canadian musician who also worked for Pink Floyd, Elton John
Elton John
and Supertramp) for his first solo project, from 1982 Mercury
Mercury
collaborated with Morgan Fisher (performed with Queen
Queen
in concert during the Hot Space
Hot Space
leg),[58] and from 1985 onward Mercury
Mercury
collaborated with Mike Moran (in the studio) and Spike Edney
Spike Edney
(in concert).[59] Mercury
Mercury
played the piano in many of Queen's most popular songs, including "Killer Queen", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy", "We Are the Champions", "Somebody To Love" and "Don't Stop Me Now". He used concert grand pianos and, occasionally, other keyboard instruments such as the harpsichord. From 1980 onward, he also made frequent use of synthesisers in the studio. Queen
Queen
guitarist Brian May
Brian May
claims that Mercury
Mercury
was unimpressed with his own abilities at the piano and used the instrument less over time because he wanted to walk around onstage and entertain the audience.[60] Although he wrote many lines for the guitar, Mercury
Mercury
possessed only rudimentary skills on the instrument. Songs like "Ogre Battle" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" were composed on the guitar; the latter featured Mercury
Mercury
playing rhythm guitar on stage and in the studio.[61] Solo career See also: The Solo Collection In addition to his work with Queen, Mercury
Mercury
put out two solo albums and several singles. Although his solo work was not as commercially successful as most Queen
Queen
albums, the two off- Queen
Queen
albums and several of the singles debuted in the top 10 of the UK Music Charts. 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
Queen
were recording their debut album; Cable enlisted Mercury
Mercury
to perform lead vocals on the songs "I Can Hear Music" and "Goin' Back", both were released together as a single in 1973. Eleven years later, Mercury
Mercury
made a contribution to the Richard "Wolfie" Wolf mix of Love Kills on the 1984 album (the song also used as the end title theme for National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1) and new soundtrack to the 1927 Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
film Metropolis. The song, written by Giorgio Moroder
Giorgio Moroder
in collaboration with Mercury, debuted at the number 10 position in the UK charts. It was produced by Moroder and Mack.[62] Mack also produced the 1987 single "Hold On" which Mercury
Mercury
recorded with actress Jo Dare for a German action drama Zabou.[63] Mercury's two full albums outside the band were Mr. Bad Guy
Mr. Bad Guy
(1985) and Barcelona
Barcelona
(1988). Mr. Bad Guy
Mr. Bad Guy
debuted in the top ten of the UK Album Charts.[62] In 1993, a remix of "Living on My Own", a single from the album, posthumously reached number one on the UK Singles Charts.[64] The song also garnered Mercury
Mercury
a posthumous Ivor Novello Award
Ivor Novello Award
from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.[65] Allmusic critic Eduardo Rivadavia describes Mr. Bad Guy
Mr. Bad Guy
as "outstanding from start to finish" and expressed his view that Mercury "did a commendable job of stretching into uncharted territory".[66] In particular, the album is heavily synthesiser-driven in a way that is not characteristic of previous Queen
Queen
albums. His second album, Barcelona, recorded with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, combines elements of popular music and opera. Many critics were uncertain what to make of the album; one referred to it as "the most bizarre CD of the year".[67] The album was a commercial success,[68] and the album's title track debuted at No. 8 in the UK and was also a hit in Spain.[69] The title track received massive air play as the official anthem of the 1992 Summer Olympics
1992 Summer Olympics
(held in Barcelona
Barcelona
one year after Mercury's death). Caballé sang it live at the opening of the Olympics with Mercury's part played on a screen, and again prior to the start of the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich in Barcelona.[70] In addition to the two solo albums, Mercury
Mercury
released several singles, including his own version of the hit "The Great Pretender" by The Platters, which debuted at No. 5 in the UK in 1987.[62] In September 2006 a compilation album featuring Mercury's solo work was released in the UK in honour of what would have been his 60th birthday. The album debuted in the UK top 10.[71] In 1981–1983 Mercury
Mercury
recorded several tracks with Michael Jackson, including a demo of "State of Shock", "Victory" and "There Must Be More to Life Than This".[72][73] None of these collaborations were officially released at the time, although bootleg recordings exist. Jackson went on to record the single "State of Shock" with Mick Jagger for The Jacksons' album Victory.[74] Mercury
Mercury
included the solo version of "There Must Be More To Life Than This" on his Mr. Bad Guy album.[75] "There Must Be More to Life Than This" was eventually reworked by Queen
Queen
and released on their compilation album Queen Forever in 2014.[76] In addition to working with Michael Jackson, Mercury
Mercury
and Roger Taylor sang on the title track for Billy Squier's 1982 studio release, Emotions in Motion
Emotions in Motion
and later contributed to two tracks on Squier's 1986 release, Enough Is Enough, providing vocals on "Love is the Hero" and musical arrangements on "Lady With a Tenor
Tenor
Sax".[77] Personal life Relationships

Mercury
Mercury
lived at 12 Stafford Terrace in Kensington, London, before moving into Garden Lodge

In the early 1970s, Mercury
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, the singer had begun an affair with a male American record executive at Elektra Records, and in December 1976, Mercury
Mercury
told Austin of his sexuality, which ended their romantic relationship.[59][78] Mercury moved out of the flat they shared, into 12 Stafford Terrace in Kensington
Kensington
and bought Austin a place of her own nearby.[59] They remained close friends through the years, with Mercury
Mercury
often referring to her as his only true friend. In a 1985 interview, Mercury
Mercury
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."[79] He also wrote several songs about Austin, the most notable of which is "Love of My Life". Mercury's final home, Garden Lodge, 1 Logan Place, a twenty-eight room Georgian mansion in Kensington
Kensington
set in a quarter-acre manicured garden surrounded by a high brick wall, had been picked out by Austin.[80] In his will, Mercury left his London
London
home to Austin, rather than his partner Jim Hutton, saying to her, "You would have been my wife, and it would have been yours anyway."[81] Mercury
Mercury
was also the godfather of Austin's oldest son, Richard.[60] During the early- to mid-1980s, he was reportedly involved with Barbara Valentin, an Austrian actress, who is featured in the video for "It's a Hard Life".[82][83] However, in another article, Valentin was "just a friend", and Mercury
Mercury
was really dating German restaurateur Winfried Kirchberger during this time.[84] By 1985, he began another long-term relationship with hairdresser Jim Hutton (1949–2010).[85] Hutton, who was tested HIV-positive in 1990, lived with Mercury
Mercury
for the last six years of his life, nursed him during his illness and was present at his bedside when he died. Hutton said Mercury
Mercury
died wearing the wedding band that Hutton had given him.[86] Friendship with Kenny Everett Radio DJ Kenny Everett
Kenny Everett
first met Mercury
Mercury
in 1974 when he invited the singer onto his breakfast show on Capital London.[87] As two of Britain's most flamboyant, outrageous and best-loved entertainers, they shared much in common and instantly became close friends.[87] Everett would play a major role in Queen's early success when, in 1975, armed with an advance copy of the single "Bohemian Rhapsody", Mercury
Mercury
went to see Everett.[80] While privately Everett doubted any station would play the song due to its length at over 6 minutes, he said nothing to Mercury
Mercury
and placed the song on the turntable, and, after hearing it, enthused: "forget it, it's going to be number one for centuries".[80] While Capital Radio hadn't officially accepted the song, the anarchic Everett would talk incessantly about a record he had but couldn't play, before the song "accidentally" started playing, with Everett stating: "Oops, my finger must've slipped."[80] Capital's switchboard was jammed with callers wanting to know when the song was going to be released – on one occasion Everett aired the song 36 times in one day.[87][88] During the 1970s, their friendship became closer, with Everett becoming advisor and mentor to Mercury, and Mercury
Mercury
as Everett's confidante, helping him to accept his sexuality.[87] Throughout the early- to mid-1980s, they continued to explore their homosexuality, as well as experimenting in drugs, and although they were never lovers, they did experience London
London
night life on a regular basis together.[87] By 1985, they had fallen out over a disagreement on their using and sharing of drugs, and their friendship was further strained when Everett was outed by in the autobiography of his ex-wife "Lady Lee", with Mercury
Mercury
taking Lee's side.[87] With both suffering from failing health, Mercury
Mercury
and Everett started talking again in 1989, and they were able to reconcile their differences.[87] Sexual orientation While some commentators claimed Mercury
Mercury
hid his sexual orientation from the public,[22][34][89] others claimed he was "openly gay".[90][91] In December 1974, when asked directly, "So how about being bent?" by the New Musical Express, Mercury
Mercury
replied, "You're a crafty cow. Let's put it this way: there were times when I was young and green. It's a thing schoolboys go through. I've had my share of schoolboy pranks. I'm not going to elaborate further." Homosexual acts between adult males over the age of 21 had been decriminalised in the United Kingdom in 1967, only seven years earlier. In the 1980s, he would often distance himself from his partner, Jim Hutton, during public events.[86] In October 1986, The Sun claimed Mercury
Mercury
had "confessed to a string of one-night gay sex affairs".[92] During his career, Mercury's flamboyant stage performances sometimes led journalists to allude to his sexuality. Dave Dickson, reviewing Queen's performance at Wembley Arena
Wembley Arena
in 1984 for Kerrang!, noted Mercury's "camp" addresses to the audience and even described him as a "posing, pouting, posturing tart".[93] In 1992, John Marshall of Gay Times expressed the following opinion: "[Mercury] was a 'scene-queen,' not afraid to publicly express his gayness, but unwilling to analyse or justify his 'lifestyle'... It was as if Freddie Mercury
Mercury
was saying to the world, 'I am what I am. So what?' And that in itself for some was a statement."[94] In an article for AfterElton, Robert Urban stated: " Mercury
Mercury
did not ally himself to 'political outness,' or to LGBT
LGBT
causes."[94] Personality Although he cultivated a flamboyant stage personality, Mercury
Mercury
was shy and retiring when not performing, particularly around people he did not know well,[20][34][95] and granted very few interviews. Mercury once said of himself: "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside I'm a completely different man."[96] While on stage, Mercury basked in the love from his audience; Kurt Cobain's suicide note mentions how he admired and envied the way Mercury
Mercury
"seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd".[97][98] In 1987, Mercury
Mercury
celebrated his 41st birthday at the Pikes Hotel, Ibiza, several months after discovering that he had contracted HIV.[99] Mercury
Mercury
sought much comfort at the retreat and was a close friend of the owner, Anthony Pike, who described Mercury
Mercury
as "the most beautiful person I've ever met in my life. So entertaining and generous."[100] According to biographer Lesley-Ann Jones, Mercury "felt very much at home there. He played some tennis, lounged by the pool, and ventured out to the odd gay club or bar at night."[101] The party, held on 5 September 1987, has been described as "the most incredible example of excess the Mediterranean island had ever seen", and was attended by some 700 people.[102] A cake in the shape of Gaudi's Sagrada Família
Sagrada Família
was provided for the party, although the original cake collapsed and was replaced with a 2-metre-long sponge with the notes from Mercury's song "Barcelona".[100] The bill, which included 232 broken glasses, was presented to Queen's manager, Jim Beach. Illness and death

Mountain Studios
Mountain Studios
in Montreux, Switzerland, Queen's recording studio from 1978 to 1995. Mercury
Mercury
recorded his final vocal here in May 1991. In December 2013, the studio was opened free as the " Queen
Queen
Studio Experience", with fans asked for a donation to the Mercury
Mercury
Phoenix Trust charity.[103]

In October 1986, the British press reported that Mercury
Mercury
had his blood tested for HIV/ AIDS
AIDS
at a Harley Street clinic. A reporter for The Sun, Hugh Whittow, questioned Mercury
Mercury
about the story at Heathrow Airport as he was returning from a trip to Japan. Mercury
Mercury
denied he had a sexually transmitted disease.[92] According to his partner Jim Hutton, Mercury
Mercury
was diagnosed with AIDS
AIDS
in late April 1987.[104] Around that time, Mercury
Mercury
claimed in an interview to have tested negative for HIV.[34] Despite the denials, the British press pursued the rampant rumours over the next few years, fuelled by Mercury's increasingly gaunt appearance, Queen's absence from touring, and reports from former lovers to various tabloid journals. By 1990, the rumours about Mercury's health were rife.[105] At the 1990 Brit Awards
Brit Awards
held at the Dominion Theatre, London, on 18 February, a visibly frail Mercury
Mercury
made his final appearance on stage when he joined the rest of Queen
Queen
to collect the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.[106][107] Towards the end of his life, he was routinely stalked by photographers, while The Sun featured a series of articles claiming that he was ill; notably in an article from November 1990 that featured an image of a haggard-looking Mercury
Mercury
on the front page accompanied by the headline, "It's official – Freddie is seriously ill."[108] However, Mercury
Mercury
and his inner circle of colleagues and friends, whom he felt he could trust, continually denied the stories, even after one front-page article published on 29 April 1991, showed Mercury appearing very haggard in what was by then a rare public appearance.[109] It has been suggested that he could have made a contribution to AIDS
AIDS
awareness by speaking earlier about his situation and his fight against the disease.[110][111] Mercury
Mercury
kept his condition private to protect those closest to him, with Brian May confirming in a 1993 interview he had informed the band of his illness much earlier.[112][113] Filmed in May 1991, the music video for "These Are the Days of Our Lives" features a very thin Mercury, in what are his final scenes in front of the camera.[114] The rest of the band were ready to record when Mercury
Mercury
felt able to come into the studio, for an hour or two at a time. May says of Mercury: "He just kept saying. 'Write me more. Write me stuff. I want to just sing this and do it and when I am gone you can finish it off.' He had no fear, really."[103] Justin Shirley-Smith, the assistant engineer for those last sessions, states: "This is hard to explain to people, but it wasn't sad, it was very happy. He [Freddie] was one of the funniest people I ever encountered. I was laughing most of the time, with him. Freddie was saying [of his illness] 'I'm not going to think about it, I'm going to do this.'[103] After the conclusion of his work with Queen
Queen
in June 1991, Mercury retired to his home in Kensington, west London. His former partner, Mary Austin, had been a particular comfort in his final years, and in the last few weeks of his life made regular visits to his home to look after him.[115] Near the end of his life Mercury
Mercury
was starting to lose his sight, and he deteriorated to the point where he could not get out of bed.[115] Due to his worsening condition, Mercury
Mercury
decided to hasten his death by refusing to take his medication and continued taking only painkillers.[115] On 22 November 1991, Mercury
Mercury
called Queen's manager Jim Beach over to his Kensington
Kensington
home to discuss a public statement. The next day the following announcement was made to the international press on behalf of Mercury:[112]

Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV
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.

The outer walls of Mercury's final home, Garden Lodge, 1 Logan Place, west London, became a shrine to the late singer. Pictured in 2014.

On the evening of 24 November 1991, just over 24 hours after issuing that statement, Mercury
Mercury
died at the age of 45 at his home in Kensington.[116] The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.[117] Mercury's close friend, Dave Clark of The Dave Clark Five, had taken over the bedside vigil when he died. Austin phoned Mercury's parents and sister to break the news of his death,[118] which reached newspaper and television crews by the early hours of 25 November.[119] On 27 November, Mercury's funeral service at West London
London
Crematorium was conducted by a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
priest. In attendance at Mercury's service were his family and 35 of his close friends, including the remaining members of Queen
Queen
and Elton John.[120][121] His coffin was carried into the chapel to the sounds of "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"/"You've Got a Friend" by Aretha Franklin.[122] In accordance with Mercury's wishes, Mary Austin took possession of his cremated remains and buried them in an undisclosed location. The whereabouts of his ashes are believed to be known only to Austin, who has stated that she will never reveal where she buried them.[123][124] In his will, Mercury
Mercury
left the vast majority of his wealth, including his home and recording royalties, to Mary Austin and the remainder to his parents and sister. He left £500,000 to his chef, Joe Fanelli; £500,000 to his personal assistant, Peter Freestone; £100,000 to his driver, Terry Giddings; and £500,000 to Jim Hutton.[125] Austin continues to live at Mercury's former home, Garden Lodge, Kensington, with her family.[125] The outer walls of Garden Lodge in 1 Logan Place became a shrine to Mercury
Mercury
following his death, with mourners paying tribute by covering the walls in graffiti messages.[126] Three years after his death, Time Out magazine reported, "Since Freddie's death, the wall outside the house has become London's biggest rock 'n' roll shrine."[126] Fans continue to visit to pay their respects with messages in letters appearing on the walls.[127] Hutton was involved in a 2000 biography of Mercury, Freddie Mercury, the Untold Story, and also gave an interview for The Times
The Times
in November 2006 for what would have been Mercury's 60th birthday.[104] Legacy Continued popularity

A wax sculpture of Freddie Mercury
Mercury
at Madame Tussauds, London

The extent to which Mercury's death may have enhanced Queen's popularity is not clear. In the US, where Queen's popularity had lagged in the 1980s, sales of Queen
Queen
albums went up dramatically in 1992, the year following his death.[128] In 1992, one American critic noted, "What cynics call the 'dead star' factor had come into play— Queen
Queen
is in the middle of a major resurgence."[129] The movie Wayne's World, which featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", also came out in 1992.[130] According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Queen
Queen
had sold 34.5 million albums in the US by 2004, about half of which had been sold since Mercury's death in 1991.[131] Estimates of Queen's total worldwide record sales to date have been set as high as 300 million.[132] In the UK, Queen
Queen
has now spent more collective weeks on the UK Album Charts
UK Album Charts
than any other musical act (including The Beatles),[133] and Queen's Greatest Hits is the best-selling album of all time in the UK.[134] Two of Mercury's songs, "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody", have also each been voted as the greatest song of all time in major polls by Sony Ericsson[135] and Guinness World Records,[136] respectively. Both songs have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 2004 and "We Are the Champions" in 2009.[137] In October 2007 the video for "Bohemian Rhapsody" was voted the greatest of all time by readers of Q magazine.[138] Posthumous Queen
Queen
album

Aerial view of Mercury's rented Duck House cabin on Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
which features in the cover of Made in Heaven

In November 1995, Queen
Queen
released Made in Heaven, an album featuring Mercury's previously unreleased final recordings from 1991—as well as outtakes from previous years and reworked versions of solo works by the surviving members.[139] The album cover features the Freddie Mercury
Mercury
statue that overlooks Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
superimposed with Mercury's Duck House lake cabin that he had rented. This is where he had written and recorded his last songs at Mountain Studios.[139] The sleeve of the album contains the words, "Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie Mercury."[139] Featuring tracks such as "Too Much Love Will Kill You" and "Heaven for Everyone", the album also contains the song "Mother Love", the last vocal recording Mercury
Mercury
made prior to his death, which he completed using a drum machine, over which May, Taylor and Deacon later added the instrumental track.[140] After completing the penultimate verse, Mercury
Mercury
had told the band he "wasn't feeling that great" and stated, "I will finish it when I come back, next time." However, he never made it back into the studio, so May later recorded the final verse of the song.[103] Tributes

Statue of Freddie Mercury
Mercury
overlooking Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
in Montreux, Switzerland

A statue in Montreux, Switzerland, by sculptor Irena Sedlecká, was erected as a tribute to Mercury.[141] It stands almost 10 feet (3 metres) high overlooking Lake Geneva
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.[142] Beginning in 2003 fans from around the world have gathered in Switzerland annually to pay tribute to the singer as part of the "Freddie Mercury
Mercury
Montreux Memorial Day" on the first weekend of September. The Bearpark And Esh Colliery Band played at the Freddie Mercury
Mercury
statue on 1 June 2010.[143] In 1997 the three remaining members of Queen
Queen
released "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)", a song dedicated to Mercury
Mercury
and all those that die too soon.[144] In 1999 a Royal Mail
Royal Mail
stamp with an image of Mercury
Mercury
on stage was issued in his honour as part of the UK postal service's Millennium Stamp series.[145][146] In 2009 a star commemorating Mercury
Mercury
was unveiled in Feltham, west London
London
where his family moved upon arriving in England in 1964. The star in memory of Mercury's achievements was unveiled on Feltham
Feltham
High Street by his mother Jer Bulsara and Queen
Queen
bandmate May.[147]

Mercury
Mercury
statue above the West End's Dominion Theatre

A statue of Mercury
Mercury
stood over the entrance to the Dominion Theatre
Dominion Theatre
in London's West End from May 2002 to May 2014 for Queen
Queen
and Ben Elton's musical We Will Rock You.[148][149] A tribute to Queen
Queen
was on display at the Fremont Street Experience
Fremont Street Experience
in downtown Las Vegas throughout 2009 on its video canopy.[150] In December 2009 a large model of Mercury wearing tartan was put on display in Edinburgh as publicity for the run of We Will Rock You
We Will Rock You
at the Playhouse Theatre.[151] For Mercury's 65th birthday in 2011, Google
Google
dedicated their Google Doodle to him.[152] It included an animation set to the Mercury
Mercury
penned song, "Don't Stop Me Now".[153] Referring to "the late, great Freddie Mercury" in their 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
induction speech, Guns N' Roses
Guns N' Roses
quoted Mercury's lyrics from his song "We Are the Champions"; "I've taken my bows, my curtain calls, you've brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, and I thank you all."[154][155] Tribute was paid to Queen
Queen
and Mercury
Mercury
at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics
in London. The band's performance of "We Will Rock You" with Jessie J
Jessie J
was opened with a video of Mercury's "call and response" routine from 1986's Wembley Stadium performance, with the 2012 crowd at the Olympic Stadium responding appropriately.[156][157] The frog genus Mercurana, discovered in 2013 in Kerala, India, was named as a tribute because Mercury's "vibrant music inspires the authors". In addition, the site of the discovery is very near to where Mercury
Mercury
spent most of his childhood.[158] A new species of the genus Heteragrion (Odonata : Zygoptera) from Brazil
Brazil
was named Heteragrion freddiemercuryi in his honour, with the etymology: "I name this species after Freddie Mercury, artistic name of Farrokh Bulsara (1946–1991), superb and gifted musician and songwriter whose wonderful voice and talent still entertain millions of people around the world."[159] On 1 September 2016, an English Heritage
English Heritage
blue plaque was unveiled at Mercury's home in 22 Gladstone Avenue in Feltham, west London
London
by his sister Kashmira Cooke and Brian May.[160] Attending the ceremony, Karen Bradley, the UK Secretary of State for Culture, called Mercury "one of Britain's most influential musicians", and added he "is a global icon whose music touched the lives of millions of people around the world".[161] On 5 September 2016, the 70th anniversary of Mercury's birth, asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury was named after him.[162] Issuing the certificate of designation to the "charismatic singer", Joel Parker of the Southwest Research Institute
Southwest Research Institute
added: "Freddie Mercury
Mercury
sang, 'I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky' - and now that is even more true than ever before."[162] The airline Norwegian painted the tail fin of two of its aircraft with a portrait of Mercury
Mercury
to mark what would have been his 71st birthday in September 2017. Mercury
Mercury
is the company's fifth "British tail fin hero", joining England's 1966 FIFA World Cup
1966 FIFA World Cup
winning captain Bobby Moore, children's author Roald Dahl, pioneering pilot Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
and aviation entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker.[163][164] Importance in AIDS
AIDS
history As the first major rock star to die of AIDS, Mercury's death represented an important event in the history of the disease.[165] In April 1992, the remaining members of Queen
Queen
founded The Mercury
Mercury
Phoenix Trust and organised The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
for AIDS Awareness, to celebrate the life and legacy of Mercury
Mercury
and raise money for AIDS
AIDS
research, which took place on 20 April 1992.[166] The Mercury Phoenix Trust has since raised millions of pounds for various AIDS charities. The tribute concert, which took place at London's Wembley Stadium for an audience of 72,000, featured a wide variety of guests including Robert Plant
Robert Plant
(of Led Zeppelin), Roger Daltrey
Roger Daltrey
(of The Who), Extreme, Elton John, Metallica, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Tony Iommi (of Black Sabbath), Guns N' Roses, Elizabeth Taylor, George Michael, Def Leppard, Seal, Liza Minnelli, and U2 (via satellite). Elizabeth Taylor spoke of Mercury
Mercury
as "an extraordinary rock star who rushed across our cultural landscape like a comet shooting across the sky".[167] The concert was broadcast live to 76 countries and had an estimated viewing audience of 1 billion people.[168] Appearances in lists of influential individuals Several popularity polls conducted over the past decade indicate that Freddie Mercury's reputation may, in fact, have been enhanced since his death. For instance, in a 2002 vote to determine who the UK public considers the greatest British people in history, Mercury
Mercury
was ranked 58 in the list of the 100 Greatest Britons, broadcast by the BBC.[169] He was further listed at the 52nd spot in a 2007 Japanese national survey of the 100 most influential heroes.[170] Despite the fact that he had been criticised by gay activists for hiding his HIV
HIV
status, author Paul Russell included Mercury
Mercury
in his book The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present.[171] In 2008 Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
ranked Mercury
Mercury
18 on its list of the Top 100 Singers Of All Time.[4] Mercury
Mercury
was voted the greatest male singer in MTV's 22 Greatest Voices in Music.[90] In 2011 a Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
readers' pick placed Mercury
Mercury
in second place of the magazine's Best Lead Singers of All Time.[98] Portrayal on stage On 24 November 1997, a monodrama about Freddie Mercury's life, titled Mercury: The Afterlife and Times of a Rock God, opened in New York City.[172] It presented Freddie Mercury
Mercury
in the hereafter: examining his life, seeking redemption and searching for his true self.[173] The play was written and directed by Charles Messina and the part of Mercury
Mercury
was played by Khalid Gonçalves (né Paul Gonçalves) and then later, Amir Darvish.[174] Billy Squier opened one of the shows with an acoustic performance of a song he had written about Mercury
Mercury
titled "I Have Watched You Fly".[175] Portrayals in film and television Biopic film Main article: Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody
(film) Brian May
Brian May
announced in a September 2010 BBC
BBC
interview[176] that Sacha Baron Cohen, known for his comedic characters Borat, Ali G, and Brüno, had been cast to play Mercury
Mercury
in a biographical film. Time commented with approval on his singing ability and resemblance to Mercury.[177] The film would be written by Peter Morgan, Academy Award-nominated for his screenplays The Queen
Queen
and Frost/Nixon. The film, which is being co-produced by Robert De Niro's TriBeCa Productions, will focus on Queen's formative years and the period leading up to the celebrated performance at the 1985 Live Aid
Live Aid
concert. Filming was planned to begin sometime in 2011.[178] In April 2011, May confirmed that pre-production work was continuing. He said the band had approved a team to start filming later in 2011, and Baron Cohen's eagerness had been the key to progress.[179] However, in July 2013, Baron Cohen dropped out of the role due to creative differences with the members of Queen.[180] May said they had parted on good terms and said that the band had felt Cohen's presence would have been distracting.[181] In December 2013, it was announced that Ben Whishaw, best known for playing Q in the James Bond films Skyfall
Skyfall
and Spectre, had been chosen to replace Cohen as Mercury.[182] British actor and director Dexter Fletcher was announced as director, but withdrew from the project in March 2014.[183] Production had been due to begin in the summer of 2014; any delays would cause further problems, with Whishaw committed to begin work on the next James Bond film towards the end of the year.[183] In late 2015, producers GK Films hired Anthony McCarten to write a new screenplay.[184] In March 2016, during an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Cohen elaborated on his departure and the creative disagreements with May and Taylor – specifically on whether the film's plotline should have continued past Mercury's 1991 death, and his choice of crew, which included Morgan, David Fincher
David Fincher
and Tom Hooper.[185] On 4 November 2016, it was announced that the film was now backed by 20th Century Fox, New Regency
New Regency
and GK Films, with shooting set to have begun in early 2017. Mercury
Mercury
will be played by Rami Malek, while Bryan Singer
Bryan Singer
is set to direct.[186][187] In August 2017, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello
Joseph Mazzello
were cast as May, Taylor and Deacon.[188] On 31 August 2017, Allen Leech
Allen Leech
was cast as Paul Prenter.[189] In September 2017, the first image of Malek as Mercury
Mercury
was released, as well as further information by Singer regarding the film's timeline of 1970 to the Live Aid
Live Aid
performance in 1985, stating that the film is "not a traditional biopic" and will be a story honoring the music, but that Mercury's dark and troubled history will also be honored.[190] On 6 September 2017, Lucy Boynton was cast as Mary Austin.[191] On 5 December Singer was fired by 20th Century Fox due to "unreliable behaviour" on set, and was replaced with Dexter Fletcher.[192] Singer stated he was disappointed not to be able to finish the film, "a passion project of mine".[193] Other portrayals Mercury
Mercury
appeared as a supporting character in the BBC
BBC
television drama Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett
Kenny Everett
Story, first broadcast in October 2012. He was portrayed by actor James Floyd.[194] He was played by actor John Blunt in The Freddie Mercury
Mercury
Story: Who Wants to Live Forever, first broadcast in the UK on Channel 5 in November 2016. Although the programme was criticised for focusing on Mercury's love life and sexuality, Blunt's performance and likeness to the singer did receive praise.[195] Discography Main article: Freddie Mercury
Mercury
discography See also: Queen
Queen
discography

Queen (band)
Queen (band)
portal

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

Notes

^ The Bulsara family gets its name from Bulsar, a city and district that is now in the Indian state of Gujarat
Gujarat
and is today officially known as Valsad. In the 17th century, Bulsar was one of the five centres of the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
religion (the other four were also in what is today Gujarat) and consequently "Bulsara" is a relatively common name amongst Zoroastrians. ^ On Mercury's birth certificate,[11] his parents defined themselves with "Nationality: British Indian" and "Race: Parsi". The Parsis are an ethnic group of Persian origin and have lived on the Indian Subcontinent for over a thousand years.

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to play Freddie Mercury". BBC
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to Play Freddie Mercury". TIME.com. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2014.  ^ "'Is it because I has a mankini?' Ali G
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in a film about the star's colourful life". The Independent. London. 18 September 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.  ^ " Sacha Baron Cohen
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is perfect to play Freddie Mercury
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but we can't mess up his legacy, says Brian May". dailyrecord. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2014.  ^ Finke, Nikki (22 July 2013). " Sacha Baron Cohen
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Biopic Over Creative Differences With Queen". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.  ^ "BRIAN MAY SPEAKS ON QUEEN BIOPIC PROBLEMS". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 27 September 2014.  ^ " Ben Whishaw
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Ben Whishaw
In The Wings?". Deadline. Archived from the original on 16 October 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.  ^ Jagernauth, Kevin. " Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen
Says David Fincher
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To Die Mid-Movie". www.indiewire.com.  ^ Mike Fleming Jr (4 November 2016). " Queen
Queen
Movie Amping Up With Bryan Singer & Rami Malek
Rami Malek
As Freddie Mercury". Deadline. Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.  ^ Jordan Sirani (4 November 2016). "MR. ROBOT'S RAMI MALEK TO PLAY QUEEN SINGER FREDDIE MERCURY FOR X-MEN DIRECTOR BRYAN SINGER". IGN. Retrieved 5 November 2016.  ^ "QueenOnline.com - News". www.queenonline.com.  ^ Film News Roundup: ‘Downton Abbey’ Star Allen Leech
Allen Leech
Joins ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Retrieved 31 August 2017. ^ " Rami Malek
Rami Malek
is Freddie Mercury
Mercury
in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' first look". ew.com.  ^ Lucy Boynton
Lucy Boynton
Joins Rami Malek
Rami Malek
in Queen
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Biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Retrieved 6 September 2017. ^ " Dexter Fletcher
Dexter Fletcher
to direct Freddie Mercury
Mercury
biopic". BBC. 8 December 2017.  ^ "Bryan Singer: Director fired from Freddie Mercury
Mercury
film". BBC. 8 December 2017.  ^ "Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett
Kenny Everett
Story". BBC. 7 October 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012.  ^ Troy Nankervis (20 November 2016). "Channel 5's Freddie Mercury doco-drama blasted for 'wooden' acting by fans". Metro. Archived from the original on 22 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016. 

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