Q is for Queen

There can be no two ways about this one. Even though I’m not a huge fan of either Freddie or Queen, there’s no denying that they had a massive impact on the pop scene, pop culture and the world around them.

The first time I became aware of Freddie Mercury was when he did a duet called “Barcelona” with opera singer Montserrat Cabelle. The main reason I became aware of this was because my mother, a classical singer and music teacher, nearly had apoplexy about this collaboration. That was 1988, and at the age of 13, I honestly couldn’t decide who squawked more. 😉

Nevertheless, the song was a huge hit, got a lot of airplay, and the video got a lot of time on the TV. It was the official song of the Olympic Games that year, and indelibly printed the image of a young, virile Freddie on my mind.

Of course, Queen had many more hits than this, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and “We Are the Champions” and they were certainly one of the most influential bands of their time.  Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar with the name Farrokh Bulsara on 5 September 1946. Freddie Mercury received a number of accolades. He was placed at number 58 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. A Blender and MTV2  poll of 2005 voted Mercury greatest male singer of all time. For Rolling Stone in 2008, he ranked 18 on the list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

After having fled from Zanzibar for safety reasons and settled in the UK, in April 1970, Mercury joined guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Mercury chose the name “Queen” for the new band. He later said about the band’s name, “I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it”. He also changed his surname, Bulsara, to Mercury.

How amazing that a boy from Zanzibar could make good in the western world to this extent!

There is much to be read about the man in the Wikipedia article linked here, which I won’t cover. I’ve referred to this article in this post, and reference it in this post. But I find this particularly interesting:  “Although he cultivated a flamboyant stage personality, Mercury was shy and retiring when not performing, particularly around people he did not know well, 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. While on stage, Mercury basked in the love from his audience, Kurt Cobain’s suicide note famously mentions how he both admired and envied Mercury’s relish for the love and adoration he received from the crowd.”

Indeed, I would say that it’s true that Freddie Mercury had a public persona and one that he kept very private. He only disclosed that he had AIDS on the day before he died, and I may be wrong, but I can’t find definitive proof anywhere that he ever disclosed to the world that he was gay. I think, however, that he inadvertently made AIDS more acceptable and gay more okay in the aftermath of the public’s realisation that he was gay and had AIDS.

Freddie Mercury died on  24 November 1991 at the age of 45, and I’m not sure that the world has ever seen a performer like him before or since.

With thanks to the Wikipedia article on Freddie Mercury.

This post is part of a series of posts I’m writing for a blog challenge which includes posts from A – Z. For other posts in this series, browse this blog and Typewrite Transcription.

World AIDS Day 1 December – Elton John AIDS Foundation

Today is World AIDS Day. It always interests me that things like AIDS get a day. AIDS isn’t for just a day. It’s forever. We think about things for a day, and then, if they don’t affect us personally, tomorrow we stop thinking about them. I guess that’s the way human nature is. 

I first heard about AIDS back in 1985. I think a lot of people first heard about it then, because it’s when the first famous person died of it. Handsome actor and leading man Rock Hudson was taken from us on October 2 1985 at the age of 60. Cause of death: AIDS. Before that, a few people had died of it. But nobody we knew. AIDS was highly stigmatised. It was something that came from monkeys, came from gay people, came from everywhere and anywhere, but it was something sordid that WE didn’t do.  Although the death of Rock Hudson due to AIDS was tragic, it gave a friendly name and face to AIDS, and made us realise that if it could happen to Rock, it could happen to us. Rock Hudson was homosexual, which fuelled the supposition that AIDS was a disease for homosexuals but stated that he felt he may have contracted the disease through a blood transfusion in 1981, which still stands today as his lover did not contract the disease. 

Rock Hudson’s admission to having AIDS and death due to it saw much funding being invested into AIDS research. Rock Hudson, by being infected, and dying of AIDS, gave a name and a face to a disease and unwittingly has saved and helped many many lives. 

There is another celebrity whose name is irrevocably linked with the condition – not through having it himself, but through his Foundation – The Elton John AIDS Foundation.

From their website:

The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) was established in the United States in 1992 by Sir Elton John, and is headquartered in New York City.  In 1993, Sir Elton also established his Foundation as a registered charity in the United Kingdom, headquartered in London.  These two organizations function as separate entities with their own distinct grant-making portfolios, but both pursue the same mission – to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS through innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct treatment, care, and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.  The Foundation supports this mission through proceeds from special events, cause-related marketing projects, and voluntary contributions (large and small) from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Read Elton John’s letter here and click here to donate

Over the years many many advances have been made in the fight against AIDS. With the help of treatments available today, AIDS is something that can be managed. But awareness and funding is still necessary. So please spread the word and support. I remember in the early days how long it took for test results to come in. It must have been agonising to wait months and months to hear the result of an AIDS test. Today that’s not true. The results are immediately available. So get yourself tested. Blood transfusions are also not risky any more thanks to the tests that are done. 

This is a sad day in popular culture, as  today another handsome (and young) actor passed away although not of AIDS. We have all just learned of the death of Paul Walker, the star of the Fast and Furious franchise in a terrible car accident. Let’s make the difference we can in other people’s lives by supporting foundations such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  

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