Facts About Freddie Mercury And His Impact On More Than Just Queen

Freddie Mercury’s oversized presence on the stage was a great match with his flamboyance and perseverance to deliver. It wasn’t just his stage personality, it was his ability to be a strong performer while making it a theatrical show. However, being shy and not doing many interviews over his career, Mercury proved to be different in many ways.

Long before he passed away from a deadly disease, Mercury made a dramatic impact on music that lives on to this day. Before he even formed Queen, he was attending art college, and Freddie Mercury was never his real name. From his rise to fame to his many relationships, he is one of the rock world’s most versatile musicians ever.

Farrokh Bulsa From Zanzibar

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Farrokh Bulsara was born on September 5, 1946, in Zanzibar, Tanzania. His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, practiced the Zoroastrian religion, and he had a sister, Kashmira. His family lived in Zanzibar so his father could continue working as a cashier for the British Colonial Office.

Bulsara spent most of his youth in India. Then at 17 years old, his family fled from Zanzibar because of the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964. The family would move to Feltham, Middlesex, England, and Bulsara enrolled at Isleworth which is now West Thames College where he studied art.

Music And Art School

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Bulsara learned how to play the piano when he was a kid. At 12 years old, he formed a band called The Hectics which covered many rock and roll songs from artists like Little Richard. However, before he focused on music, Bulsara earned a diploma at Ealing Art College.

He earned his diploma in Art and Graphic Design. His post-secondary education proved to be worthwhile in the long run. His diploma actually helped him come up with some awesome designs for his future band, which didn’t form until 1970.

Life After Art School

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After receiving his diploma from Ealing Art College, Bulsara fell back into love with music. While working at Heathrow Airport, he joined the Ibex, who later changed their name to Wreckage. That didn’t last very long and he joined his second band, Sour Milk Sea, who broke up in early 1970.

A few months after that, Bulsara joined forces with Brian May and Roger Taylor who were in a previous band together. One year later, John Deacon hopped on board as their bass player and Queen was formed. Around this time, Bulsara would legally change his name to Freddie Mercury.

As we’ll see shortly, his experience as a songwriter made him one of the most powerful musicians of his time.

Design Like No Other

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Despite not pursuing art and design like he did in college, the diploma was worth it in the end. Thanks to his efforts in school, Mercury was able to design the Queen emblem, which is also known as Queen Crest. The design is made up of the zodiac signs of each member of the band.

There are two Leo lions which were for John Deacon and Roger Taylor, a Cancer Crab for Brad May and two of the Virgo sign of two fairies to represent Freddie’s sign. The “Q” and the crown are a representation of the band’s name and phoenix protecting the whole crest.

Bottomless Microphone

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Nobody saw a bottomless microphone exist until it happened to Freddie, accidentally. It really was an accident as it happened during one of Queen’s earlier shows. Just as they finished up a song, Mercury’s microphone stand had simply broken in half.

Nevertheless, he didn’t replace it with a brand new one. Instead, he just kept performing like the whole stand never split in half. From that moment on, the bottomless microphone was created, much to his enjoyment.

Experience As A Song Writer

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Freddie had a vocal range of three and nearly four octaves. When he spoke, Mercury was more of a baritone, but a vast majority of his singing fell into the tenor range. Basically, he could sing anything in any style, no matter what the song was.

Mercury would write a majority of Queen’s popular hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody To Love”, and “We Are The Champions”. Most notably, Mercury’s wide range of genres was used from the styles of more progressive rock, gospel, heavy metal, and disco.

His relationship with Mary Austin didn’t last forever, and led to a shocking moment.

A Failed Collaboration

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The King of Pop had a well-known fan in the form of the frontman of Queen. Mercury has been fond of MJ before his days with Queen as he would loudly sign “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. After the success of Thriller, it made total sense for both musicians to collaborate together.

However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The pair worked on three demos in the spring of 1983 which were left incomplete due to a llama. Yup, MJ’s llama was in the recording studio and kept making too many distractions and it didn’t help when MJ caught his singing partner snorting drugs through a hundred dollar bill.

Freddie Liked His Stamps

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Freddie’s father, Bomi, had an interest in collecting stamps which inspired his son to do the same. His stamp collection includes stamps from different countries across the world. Most of the stamps come from the British Empire and his home of Zanzibar.

One interesting fact about his collection is the way the stamps are arranged. One page was in order based on color, size, and type. After his death, Freddie’s father auctioned his collection and the National Post Museum purchased it two years after his passing.

Mary Austin

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Throughout most of the seventies, Mercury had a long-term relationship with Mary Austin. They met through Brad May and the couple lived together for several years in West Kensington. However, their relationship would take a turn and it revealed something about Mercury.

He had begun an affair with an American record executive and in 1976, and Mercury would come clean to Austin. He opened up to her about the affair and he came out and told her of his sexuality, which ultimately ended the relationship. Even after the split, they remained close friends.

Despite losing momentum, Queen found a resurgence thanks to an incredible performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

The Solo Collection

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Mercury would release two solo albums and a few singles. This was his own project outside of Queen and it wasn’t as commercially successful compared to what Queen had delivered. His two full albums were Mr. Bad Guy and Barcelona which were released in a four-year span from 1985 to 1988.

Mr. Bad Guy reached as high as the top ten on the UK Album charts. On the other hand, Barcelona combined elements of popular music and opera. Thanks to the album’s leading track, it received massive airplay as the official anthem of the 1992 Summer Olympics, which were held in Barcelona.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

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Soon after he checked into the Bayerischer Hof hotel and was stepping into the bathtub, a tongue-in-cheek melody came straight to his mind. Mercury soon called for assistant Peter Hince to hand him a guitar, then he wrapped a towel around his waist and began to bash out the song.

The song Mercury had come up with scrubbing in the tub was the single “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. It didn’t even take him 20 minutes to write the entire song and the track was released as a pre-album single in the fall of 1980. It didn’t take long for the song to peak a Number One across the globe.

Live Aid 1985

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Live Aid happened on July 13, 1985, and Queen took the stage at Wembley Stadium without many expectations. Their music was slowly losing its momentum, but then something big happened to them. Freddie was given credit, but their legacy saw them get a 20-minute eruption of passion.

Mercury went to another level. He was practically everywhere from the piano solo for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and marching around strutting his stuff during “Radio Ga Ga”. Their performance was arguably the best at Live Aid and the one fans still remember all these years later.

One of the best moments of their career was the beginning of the end for Freddie.

Relationship With Kenny Everett

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Kenny Everett, a radio DJ, befriended Mercury in 1974. This was around the time Mercury’s sexual orientation came into question as the pair shared so much in common they became fast friends. After that, their friendship became closer and closer.

Everett was somewhat of a mentor to Mercury while Freddie helped him accept his sexuality. Throughout the early eighties, they continued to explore their sexuality. By 1985, they had a falling out overusing and sharing drugs and it was strained much more when Everett was outed by his ex-wife Lee Everett.

A Significant Moment For Freddie

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After Mercury and Austin broke up, it was out in the open that Freddie was gay. He always shot down reporters when they would ask him questions about it, especially when they asked him what it’s like “being bent”? That didn’t go over too well.

Even his flamboyant stage performances led to people alluding his sexuality. He wasn’t afraid to publically express who he was as a person and didn’t really ally himself with any causes such as LGBT. He just wanted a personal life that got out of hand too much.

Illness

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In October 1986, Mercury had his blood tested for HIV/AIDS and he denied that he had the sexually transmitted disease. By 1990, rumors of Mercury’s health were spinning out of control and his appearance at the 1990 Brit Awards saw him look frail and it was his last appearance on stage with Queen.

Then, on November 22, 1991, Mercury and Queen’s manager, Jim Beach came together at Mercury’s home in Kengsinton and made an announcement to the international press that he had AIDS. 24 hours after making the statement, Mercury lost his life at the of 45.

After Sasha Baron Cohen dropped out, nobody expected the star of Mr. Robot to be cast as Freddie in a biopic film.

Legacy

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Mercury’s death may have improved Queen’s popularity since they lost that momentum in the eighties. Sales for their albums drastically increased in 1992 and it didn’t stop there. Wayne’s World used “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a scene when Wayne, Garth and their pals head rock to the classic hit.

Queen’s Greatest Hits album is the best-selling album of all time in the UK. So yeah, his legacy is still relevant to this day, and so are the members of the Queen. Even in Montreux, Switzerland there’s a three-meter statue of the former Queen singer for tourists to check out.

The Return Of Queen

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Adam Lambert and two-thirds of Queen first performed together in 2008. Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared as guests on American Idol season eight, where Lambert was a contestant. May later revealed he was considering Lambert as a frontman for Queen.

Two years later, Lambert joined Queen for a performance at the MTV Europe Awards. One year later, Queen + Adam Lambert played their first full concert with Elton John. Since then, they had a 26-date concert tour through North America in 2017 that followed with a European leg of the tour.

Bohemian Rhapsody

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A movie about Freddie Mercury and Queen was first announced in 2010. Sacha Baron Cohen was set to play Mercury but he ultimately left the project in 2013 over creative disputes but left on good terms with the band. Ben Wishaw was mentioned as a possible replacement, then Rami Malek was hired to play Mercury.

Bohemian Rhapsody is set to be released in late 2018. Ben Hardy will play Roger Taylor, Gwilym Lee will play Brian May, and Joseph Mazzello will play bass guitarist John Deacon. The film will focus on the 15-year period from the formation of Queen to Freddie Mercury’s personal life.

We Will Rock You

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With a book by Ben Elton, We Will Rock You became a musical. It tells the story of a group of Bohemians who struggle to restore the freedom of thought, fashion, and live music in a distant future where everyone acts and thinks the same — yeah it sounds weird.

Nevertheless, it became the tenth-longest running musical in West End history. The first production started in 2002 in London and the production closed in 2013 with a performance by Brian May and Roger Taylor. We Will Rock You has been seen in six of the world’s continents.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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In 2001, Queen received the highest honor that’s equivalent to an athlete going to the hall of fame. The British rock group found themselves among the many greats at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But, in fairness, Mercury received some posthumous awards.

In 1992, he won the Birt Award for Outstanding Contributions to Britsh music. He was included in the hall of fame with his bandmates in 2001but that’s not all. In 2003, the Songwriters Hall of Fame selected Mercury as one of their inductees and he’s enshrined at the UK Music Hall of Fame.