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.
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.