FARROKH "FREDDIE" MERCURY (né BULSARA; 5 September 1946 – 24
November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter and record producer,
known as the lead vocalist of the rock band
Queen . He was known for
his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. 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 was born of
Parsi descent in the
Sultanate of Zanzibar
Sultanate of Zanzibar , and
grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex,
England , in his teens. He formed
Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian
May and drummer Roger Taylor .
Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to
AIDS , having confirmed the day before his death
that he had contracted the disease.
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
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
100 Greatest Britons .
He is consistently voted one of the greatest singers in the history of
popular music .
* 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
* 3.3 Sexual orientation
* 3.4 Personality
* 4 Illness and death
* 5 Legacy
* 5.1 Continued popularity
* 5.2 Posthumous
* 5.3 Tributes
* 5.4 Importance in
* 5.5 Appearances in lists of influential individuals
* 5.6 Portrayal on stage
* 5.7 Portrayals in film and television
* 5.7.1 Proposed film
* 5.7.2 Other portrayals
* 6 Discography
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 Bibliography
* 10 External links
The house in
Mercury lived in his early years
Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; Gujarati : ફારોખ
બલસારા, Pharōkh Balsārā) was born in the British
Sultanate of Zanzibar
Sultanate of Zanzibar , East Africa (now part of
Tanzania ). His parents, Bomi (1908–2003) and Jer Bulsara
(1922–2016), were Parsis from the
Gujarat region of the then
Bombay Presidency in British India . The family surname
is derived from the town of Bulsar (now known as
Valsad ) in southern
Gujarat. As Parsis,
Mercury and his family practised the Zoroastrian
religion. The Bulsara family had moved to
Zanzibar so that his father
could continue his job as a cashier at the British Colonial Office .
He had a younger sister, Kashmira.
Mercury spent most of his childhood in India and began taking piano
lessons at the age of seven. 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 near Bombay (now
Mumbai ). At the age
of 12, he formed a school band,
The Hectics , and covered rock and
roll artists such as
Cliff Richard and
Little Richard . It has been
said that one of his formative musical influences at the time was
Lata Mangeshkar , 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." A
friend from the time recalls that he had "an uncanny ability to listen
to the radio and replay what he heard on piano". It was also at St.
Peter's where he began to call himself "Freddie", and in February 1963
he moved back to
Zanzibar where he joined his parents at their flat.
English Heritage blue plaque at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham,
At the age of 17,
Mercury and his family fled from
safety reasons due to the 1964
Zanzibar Revolution , in which
thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed. The family moved into a
small house at 22 Gladstone Avenue,
Middlesex , England.
Mercury enrolled at
Isleworth Polytechnic (now
West Thames College )
London where he studied art. He ultimately earned a diploma in
Art and Graphic Design at
Ealing Art College (now the Ealing campus of
University of West
London ), later using these skills to design the
Queen heraldic arms. A British citizen at birth,
Mercury remained so
for the rest of his life.
Mercury joined a series of bands and sold
second-hand clothes in the
Kensington Market in
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. In 1969 he joined the
Liverpool -based band
Ibex, later renamed Wreckage. He lived briefly in a flat above the
Liverpool pub, The Dovedale Towers. 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.
In April 1970
Mercury joined guitarist
Brian May and drummer Roger
Taylor who had previously been in a band called Smile . In 1971 they
found their bass player
John Deacon who was to stay with the band
until 1997. 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." At about the same time, he changed his
surname, Bulsara, to Mercury.
Mercury designed Queen's logo, called
Queen crest, shortly before the release of the band's first album.
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). 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. 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
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. His known vocal
range extended from bass low F (F2 ) to soprano high F (F6). He could
belt up to tenor high F (F5). 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." Spanish
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". She
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.
The Who lead singer
Roger Daltrey called
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." A research team undertook a study in
2016 to understand the appeal behind Mercury's voice. Led by
Professor Christian Herbst, the team noted his notably faster vibrato
and use of subharmonics , particularly in comparison to opera singers.
The research team studied vocal samples from 23 commercially available
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.
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 ".
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." Compared to many popular
Mercury also tended to write musically complex material.
For example, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is acyclic in structure and comprises
dozens of chords . He 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. Despite
the fact that
Mercury often wrote very intricate harmonies , he also
claimed that he could barely read music. He wrote most of his songs
on the piano and used a wide variety of different key signatures.
Mercury performing live in September 1984
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 described him as "a performer
out to tease, shock and ultimately charm his audience with various
extravagant versions of himself."
David Bowie , who performed at the
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
Brian May wrote that
Mercury could make "the
last person at the back of the furthest stand in a stadium feel that
he was connected".
One of Mercury's most notable performances with
Queen took place at
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". Mercury's powerful,
sustained note during the a cappella section came to be known as "The
Note Heard Round the World". 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
Aid performance, was easily the most godlike of them all."
Over the course of his career,
Mercury performed an estimated 700
concerts in countries around the world with Queen. A notable aspect of
Queen concerts was the large scale involved. He once explained,
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille of rock and roll, always wanting to do
things bigger and better." The band was the first ever to play in
South American stadiums, breaking worldwide records for concert
attendance in the
Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo in 1981. In 1986,
Queen also played behind the
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. Mercury's final live
Queen took place on 9 August 1986 at Knebworth Park
in England and drew an attendance estimated as high as 160,000. With
the British national anthem "
God Save the Queen
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.
Mercury playing rhythm guitar during a live concert with Queen
in Frankfurt, Germany, 1984.
As a young boy in India,
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 ,
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 and
for his first solo project, and from 1985 onward collaborated with
Mike Moran (in the studio) and
Spike Edney (in concert).
Mercury played the piano in many of Queen's most popular songs,
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.
Brian May claims that
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. Although he wrote
many lines for the guitar,
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
playing rhythm guitar on stage and in the studio.
The Solo Collection
In addition to his work with Queen,
Mercury put out two solo albums
and several singles. Although his solo work was not as commercially
successful as most
Queen albums, the two off-
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,
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
I Can Hear Music " and "Goin\' Back ", both were released
together as a single in 1973; it reached the 115 position on the US
Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart. Eleven years later,
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
Loaded Weapon 1 ) and new soundtrack to the 1927 Fritz Lang
film Metropolis . The song, written by
Giorgio Moroder in
collaboration with Mercury, debuted at the number 10 position in the
UK charts. It was produced by Moroder and Mack . Mack also produced
the 1987 single "Hold On" which
Mercury recorded with actress Jo Dare
for a German action drama Zabou.
Mercury's two full albums outside the band were
Mr. Bad Guy (1985)
Mr. Bad Guy debuted in the top ten of the UK
Album Charts . In 1993, a remix of "
Living on My Own ", a single from
the album, posthumously reached number one on the
UK Singles Charts .
The song also garnered
Mercury a posthumous
Ivor Novello Award
Ivor Novello Award from
British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors . Allmusic
critic Eduardo Rivadavia describes
Mr. Bad Guy as "outstanding from
start to finish" and expressed his view that
Mercury "did a
commendable job of stretching into uncharted territory". In
particular, the album is heavily synthesiser-driven in a way that is
not characteristic of previous
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". The album was a commercial
success, and the album\'s title track debuted at No. 8 in the UK and
was also a hit in Spain. The title track received massive air play as
the official anthem of the
1992 Summer Olympics
1992 Summer Olympics (held in
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.
In addition to the two solo albums,
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. 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.
Mercury recorded several tracks with
Michael Jackson ,
including a demo of "State of Shock ", "Victory" and "There Must Be
More to Life Than This". 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 .
Mercury included the solo version of
"There Must Be More To Life Than This" on his
Mr. Bad Guy album.
"There Must Be More to Life Than This" was eventually reworked by
Queen and released on their compilation album
Queen Forever in 2014.
In addition to working with Michael Jackson,
Mercury and Roger Taylor
sang on the title track for
Billy Squier 's 1982 studio release,
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
Mercury lived at 12 Stafford Terrace in
Kensington , London,
before moving into Garden Lodge
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, the
singer had begun an affair with a male American record executive at
Elektra Records and, in December 1976,
Mercury told Austin of his
sexuality, which ended their romantic relationship.
out of the flat they shared, into 12 Stafford Terrace in Kensington
and bought Austin a place of her own nearby. They remained close
friends through the years, with
Mercury often referring to her as his
only true friend. In a 1985 interview,
Mercury said of Austin, "All my
lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary , 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." 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 set in a quarter-acre manicured
garden surrounded by a high brick wall, had been picked out by Austin.
In his will,
Mercury left his
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."
Mercury was also the godfather of
Austin's oldest son, Richard.
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 ". However, in another article, Valentin was
"just a friend" and
Mercury was really dating German restaurateur
Winfried Kirchberger during this time. By 1985, he began another
long-term relationship with hairdresser Jim Hutton (1949–2010).
Hutton, who was tested HIV-positive in 1990, lived with
the last six years of his life, nursed him during his illness and was
present at his bedside when he died. Hutton said
Mercury died wearing
the wedding band that Hutton had given him.
FRIENDSHIP WITH KENNY EVERETT
Kenny Everett first met
Mercury in 1974 when he invited the
singer onto his breakfast show on Capital
London . As two of
Britain's most flamboyant, outrageous and best-loved entertainers,
they shared much in common and instantly became close friends.
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 went to see Everett. While privately Everett doubted any
station would play the song due to its length at over 6 minutes, he
said nothing to
Mercury and placed the song on the turntable, and,
after hearing it, enthused: "forget it, it's going to be number one
for centuries". 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." 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.
During the 1970s, their friendship became closer, with Everett
becoming advisor and mentor to Mercury, and
Mercury as Everett's
confidante, helping him to accept his sexuality. 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 night life on a regular basis together. 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 his biographer Audrey Lee "Lady Lee" Middleton,
Mercury taking Lee's side. With both suffering from failing
Mercury and Everett started talking again in 1989, and they
were able to reconcile their differences.
While some commentators claimed
Mercury hid his sexual orientation
from the public, others claimed he was "openly gay ". In December
1974, when asked directly, "So how about being bent?" by the New
Musical Express ,
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. In
October 1986, The Sun claimed
Mercury had "confessed to a string of
one-night gay sex affairs".
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 in 1984 for
Kerrang! , noted
Mercury's "camp" addresses to the audience and even described him as a
"posing, pouting, posturing tart". In 1992, John Marshall of Gay
Times expressed the following opinion: " 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 was saying to
the world, 'I am what I am. So what?' And that in itself for some was
a statement." In an article for
AfterElton , Robert Urban stated:
Mercury did not ally himself to 'political outness ,' or to LGBT
Although he cultivated a flamboyant stage personality,
shy and retiring when not performing, particularly around people he
did not know well, and granted very few interviews.
said of himself: "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert , yet inside
I'm a completely different man." 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 "seemed to love, relish in the
love and adoration from the crowd".
Mercury celebrated his 41st birthday at the Pikes Hotel,
Ibiza , several months after discovering that he had contracted
Mercury sought much comfort at the retreat and was a close friend of
the owner, Anthony Pike, who described
Mercury as "the most beautiful
person I've ever met in my life. So entertaining and generous."
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." 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. A cake in the shape of Gaudi's
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". The bill, which included 232 broken glasses, was
presented to Queen's manager,
Jim Beach .
ILLNESS AND DEATH
Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, Queen's recording
studio from 1978 to 1995.
Mercury recorded his final vocal here in May
1991. In December 2013, the studio was opened free as the "Queen
Studio Experience", with fans asked for a donation to the Mercury
Phoenix Trust charity.
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 a trip to Japan. Mercury
denied he had a sexually transmitted 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. 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. At the 1990 Brit Awards
held at the
Dominion Theatre , London, on 18 February, a visibly frail
Mercury made his final public appearance on stage when he joined the
Queen to collect the
Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution
to Music. 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 on the front page
accompanied by the headline, "It's official – Freddie is seriously
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.
It has been suggested that he could have made a contribution to AIDS
awareness by speaking earlier about his situation and his fight
against the disease.
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. 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. The rest of the band were ready to record when
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." 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 was one of the
funniest people I ever encountered. I was laughing most of the time,
with him. Freddie was saying 'I'm not going to think about it, I'm
going to do this.'
After the conclusion of his work with
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. Near the end of his life
Mercury was starting to lose his
sight, and he deteriorated to the point where he could not get out of
bed. Due to his worsening condition,
Mercury decided to hasten his
death by refusing to take his medication and continued taking only
On 22 November 1991,
Mercury called Queen's manager
Jim Beach over to
Kensington home to discuss a public statement. The next day the
following announcement was made to the international press on behalf
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. 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
Mercury died at the age of 45 at his home in
Kensington. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia
resulting from AIDS. 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,
which reached newspaper and television crews by the early hours of 25
On 27 November, Mercury's funeral service was conducted by a
Zoroastrian priest. In attendance at Mercury's service were his family
and 35 of his close friends, including the remaining members of Queen
Elton John . His coffin was carried into the chapel to the
sounds of "
Take My Hand, Precious Lord "/"You\'ve Got a Friend " by
Aretha Franklin .
Mercury was cremated at
Kensal Green Cemetery ,
west London. In accordance with Mercury's wishes, Mary Austin took
possession of his ashes 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.
In his will,
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. Austin continues
to live at Mercury's former home, Garden Lodge, Kensington, with her
family. The outer walls of Garden Lodge in 1
Logan Place became a
Mercury following his death, with mourners paying tribute by
covering the walls in graffiti messages. 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." Fans
continue to visit to pay their respects with messages in letters
appearing on the walls. Hutton was involved in a 2000 biography of
Mercury, Freddie Mercury, the Untold Story, and also gave an interview
The Times in November 2006 for what would have been Mercury's 60th
A wax sculpture of Freddie
Madame Tussauds ,
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 albums went up dramatically in
1992, the year following his death. In 1992, one American critic
noted, "What cynics call the 'dead star' factor had come into
Queen is in the middle of a major resurgence." The movie
Wayne\'s World , which featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", also came out in
1992. According to the
Recording Industry Association of America ,
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.
Estimates of Queen's total worldwide record sales to date have been
set as high as 300 million. In the UK,
Queen has now spent more
collective weeks on the
UK Album Charts than any other musical act
The Beatles ), and Queen's Greatest Hits is the
best-selling album of all time in the UK. 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
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records , respectively. Both songs have been
inducted into the
Grammy Hall of Fame ; "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 2004
and "We Are the Champions" in 2009. In October 2007 the video for
"Bohemian Rhapsody" was voted the greatest of all time by readers of Q
POSTHUMOUS QUEEN ALBUM
Aerial view of Mercury's rented Duck House cabin on Lake Geneva
which features in the cover of
Made in Heaven
In November 1995,
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. The album cover features the Freddie Mercury
statue that overlooks
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 . The sleeve of the album
contains the words, "Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie
Featuring tracks such as "
Too Much Love Will Kill You
Too Much Love Will Kill You " and "Heaven
for Everyone ", the album also contains the song "Mother Love ", the
last vocal recording
Mercury made prior to his death, which he
completed using a drum machine, over which May, Taylor and Deacon
later added the instrumental track. After completing the penultimate
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.
Statue of Freddie
Lake Geneva in
A statue in Montreux, Switzerland, by sculptor
Irena Sedlecka , was
erected as a tribute to Mercury. It stands almost 10 feet (3 metres)
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. Beginning in 2003 fans from around
the world have gathered in Switzerland annually to pay tribute to the
singer as part of the "Freddie
Montreux Memorial Day" on the
first weekend of September. The Bearpark And Esh Colliery Band played
at the Freddie
Mercury statue on 1 June 2010.
In 1997 the three remaining members of
Queen released "No-One but You
(Only the Good Die Young) ", a song dedicated to
Mercury and all those
that die too soon. In 1999 a
Royal Mail stamp with an image of
Mercury on stage was issued in his honour as part of the UK postal
service's Millennium Stamp series.
In 2009 a star commemorating
Mercury was unveiled in
Feltham , west
London where his family moved upon arriving in England in 1964. The
star in memory of Mercury's achievements was unveiled on
Street by his mother Jer Bulsara and
Queen bandmate May. Mercury
statue above the West End's
A statue of
Mercury stood over the entrance to the Dominion Theatre
in London's West End from May 2002 to May 2014 for
Queen and Ben Elton
We Will Rock You . A tribute to
Queen was on display at
Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas throughout 2009 on
its video canopy. In December 2009 a large model of
tartan was put on display in Edinburgh as publicity for the run of We
Will Rock You at the Playhouse Theatre.
For Mercury's 65th birthday in 2011,
Google dedicated their Google
Doodle to him. It included an animation set to the
song, "Don't Stop Me Now". 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 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
Tribute was paid to
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 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.
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 spent most of his childhood. A new species of the genus
Heteragrion (Odonata : Zygoptera) from
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
On 1 September 2016, an
English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled at
Mercury's home in 22 Gladstone Avenue in Feltham, west
London by his
sister Kashmira Cooke and Brian May. Attending the ceremony, Karen
Bradley , the UK
Secretary of State for Culture , called
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". On 5 September 2016, the 70th anniversary of Mercury's birth,
17473 Freddiemercury was named after him. Issuing the
certificate of designation to the "charismatic singer", Joel Parker of
Southwest Research Institute added: "Freddie
Mercury sang, 'I'm a
shooting star leaping through the sky' - and now that is even more
true than ever before." The airline Norwegian announced that it will
paint the tail fin of two of its aircraft with a portrait of Mercury
to mark what would have been his 71st birthday.
Mercury is the
company's fifth "British tail fin hero", joining England's World Cup
Bobby Moore , children's author
Roald Dahl ,
Amy Johnson and aviation entrepreneur Sir Freddie
As the first major rock star to die of AIDS, Mercury's death
represented an important event in the history of the disease. In
April 1992, the remaining members of
Queen founded The
Trust and organised
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS
Awareness , to celebrate the life and legacy of
Mercury and raise
AIDS research, which took place on 20 April 1992. 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
Robert Plant (of
Led Zeppelin ),
Roger Daltrey (of
The Who ), Extreme ,
Elton John ,
David Bowie , Annie
Tony Iommi (of
Black Sabbath ), Guns N\' Roses , Elizabeth
George Michael ,
Def Leppard , Seal ,
Liza Minnelli , and U2
Elizabeth Taylor spoke of
Mercury as "an
extraordinary rock star who rushed across our cultural landscape like
a comet shooting across the sky". The concert was broadcast live to
76 countries and had an estimated viewing audience of 1 billion
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 was ranked
58 in the list of the
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons , broadcast by the BBC. He
was further listed at the 52nd spot in a 2007 Japanese national survey
of the 100 most influential heroes. Despite the fact that he had been
criticised by gay activists for hiding his
HIV status, author Paul
Mercury in his book The Gay 100: A Ranking of the
Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present. In 2008
Rolling Stone ranked
Mercury 18 on its list of the Top 100 Singers Of
Mercury was voted the greatest male singer in
MTV 's 22
Greatest Voices in Music. In 2011 a
Rolling Stone readers' pick
Mercury in second place of the magazine's Best Lead Singers of
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. It presented Freddie
Mercury in the hereafter: examining his
life, seeking redemption and searching for his true self. The play
was written and directed by
Charles Messina and the part of Mercury
was played by
Khalid Gonçalves (né Paul Gonçalves) and then later,
Amir Darvish .
Billy Squier opened one of the shows with an acoustic
performance of a song he had written about
Mercury titled "I Have
Watched You Fly".
PORTRAYALS IN FILM AND TELEVISION
Brian May announced in a September 2010
BBC interview that Sacha
Baron Cohen , known for his comedic characters Borat ,
Ali G , and
Brüno , had been cast to play
Mercury in a biographical film . Time
commented with approval on his singing ability and resemblance to
Mercury. The film would be written by
Peter Morgan , Academy Award
-nominated for his screenplays The
Queen and Frost/Nixon . The film,
which is being co-produced by
Robert De Niro
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 concert. Filming was
planned to begin sometime in 2011.
In April 2011, May confirmed that preproduction 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. However, in
July 2013, Baron Cohen dropped out of the role due to creative
differences with the members of Queen. May said they had parted on
good terms and said that the band had felt Cohen's presence would have
In December 2013, it was announced that
Ben Whishaw , best known for
playing Q in the James Bond films
Skyfall and Spectre , had been
chosen to replace Cohen as Mercury. British actor and director Dexter
Fletcher was announced as director, but withdrew from the project in
March 2014. 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.
In late 2015, producers
GK Films hired
Anthony McCarten to write a
new screenplay. On 4 November 2016, it was announced that the film
was now backed by
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox ,
New Regency and GK Films, with
shooting set to have begun in early 2017.
Mercury will be played by
Rami Malek , while
Bryan Singer is set to direct.
Mercury appeared as a supporting character in the
drama Best Possible Taste: The
Kenny Everett Story, first broadcast in
October 2012. He was portrayed by actor James Floyd .
He was played by actor John Blunt in The Freddie
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.
Main article: Freddie
Mercury discography See also: Queen
Queen (band) portal
Mr. Bad Guy (1985)
Montserrat Caballé ) (1988)
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