How famous was Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury | biography

Biography: Freddie Mercury


Elaborated. Extrovert. Extravagant. Freddie Mercury is undisputedly one of the greatest self-promoters in rock history: like a beau, the egomaniac strutted majestically across the stage and flirted with the audience. The image of Mercury pausing on the stage with his fist raised and step spread is etched into the collective memory. The front man of the British rock band Queen was a dazzling bird of paradise, the likes of which has never been seen before or since. The singer with the unmistakable falsetto has left behind a gigantic oeuvre with Queen: to name albums like “A Night At The Opera”, “News Of The World”, “Innuendo” or the posthumously published “Made In Heaven” means to list masterpieces ; Songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, “Somebody To Love”, “The Show Must Go On” and “We Are The Champions”, to name just a handful, are part of the popular music canon of the 20th century Century. Compared to Queen, Freddie Mercury's solo oeuvre may seem very small, but it also reveals his multi-faceted artistic personality. The year 2006 holds two days of remembrance that commemorate Freddie Mercury: The British rock singer would have turned 60 on September 5th and November 24th marks the 15th anniversary of his death. On this occasion, the album “The Very Best Of Freddie Mercury” and the double DVD “Lover Of Life, Singer Of Songs” are released, which includes a two-hour documentary about the life and work of the superstar as well as all video clips of his solo works and numerous interviews Contains contemporary witnesses as well as the last filmed interview with Freddie Mercury himself.

Farrokh Bulsara, which is his real name, was born on the East African island of Zanzibar. The son of a government official spent most of his childhood in India, where he attended St. Peter's English boarding school. There he was given the nickname Freddie. The boy's musical talent was discovered at the age of seven and encouraged through piano lessons. He also excelled in sports at the school and also showed great artistic talent. In 1964 the Bulsaras moved to Middlesex, England. Here Freddie joined a blues band called Wreckage while studying graphic design at the Ealing College of Art. A college friend introduced the singer to Roger Taylor and Brian May, who had just formed a band called Smile. Smile became Queen when Freddie joined the formation as lead singer. The last member of the band to play together for the next 20 years was bassist John Deacon. The rest is rock history: EMI Records quickly signed the band and in 1973 their debut album “Queen” was released, the beginning of one of the most spectacular and enduring band careers of all time.

In 1975 the opera-like single “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released and topped the English charts for nine weeks. This exceptional song in rock history almost never got released because it was too long and the style too unusual, but Freddie insisted and was sure it would be played - it would be a recognizable hit. In the meantime it had become clear what extraordinary abilities Freddie possessed: a voice with a remarkable three and a half octaves register and a stage presence that gave Queen her dazzling image. Very soon Queen were known far beyond the borders of Great Britain: In Europe, Japan and the USA they triumphed at their concerts and climbed the charts; in the USA in 1979 they reached number one with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. What also set Queen apart was the undoubtedly democratic weighting of her creative output: each of the four members wrote songs for the band that topped the charts. This tremendous compositional power, combined with the pursuit of a perfect sound, the notorious willingness to experiment, the penchant for theatrics and Freddie Mercury's outstanding performance qualities, made Queen so unique and groundbreaking for generations of other bands.

Freddie Mercury, whether in latex or leather, with a bare chest or in an ermine, always managed to fascinate and sweep his audience away - regardless of how huge the crowd was. It is not for nothing that Queen are considered to be the founding fathers of stadium rock, a reputation that they cemented with their brilliant performance in South America, where they played in São Paolo in front of 231,000 spectators, setting a world record. Their appearance at the Live Aid Festival in 1985, where they stole the show from all other artists, was also unforgettable. As if that weren't enough, Queen have distinguished themselves time and again as pioneers of pop video. Their innovative clips were brave, if not cocky visual adventures: Just think of “I Want To Break Free”, in which the quartet posed in women's costumes, of the opulent monumental clip “Radio Ga Ga”, inspired by the silent film classic “Metropolis” ”Or the scandalous video for“ Bicycle Race ”, in which five dozen stark naked women cycled around Wembley Stadium. Yet in everything Queen tackled, they retained style, size, and persuasiveness - largely thanks to Mercury's charisma.

Parallel to his career with Queen, Freddie Mercury went solo from the mid-eighties. In 1983 he booked the Musicland Studio in Munich, where he made the first recordings for his solo debut album “Mr. Bad Guy ”, which was only released in 1985 and made it into the UK top ten. His first single under his own name, “Love Kills”, was released a year earlier, recorded for Giorgio Moroder's soundtrack for the color version of Fritz Lang's “Metropolis”. The exclusively edited compilation “The Best Of Freddie Mercury” contains original songs from Mercury's debut album as well as some remixed versions, such as “Foolin 'Around” and “Living On My Own”. Also included is “Time,” released in 1986, a collaboration with Dave Clark for his musical of the same name. Freddie Mercury's cover version of “The Great Pretender” (The Platters celebrated their first worldwide number one hit with this song in 1955) was brilliant and thoroughly self-deprecating. In the lavish video clip, Mercury steps down a huge flight of stairs, flanked by an unmanageable number of life-size cardboard copies of himself. The magnificent ballad catapulted the rock diva into the British top five once again in 1987.

In the same year Freddie Mercury fulfilled a long-cherished wish and performed with the internationally acclaimed opera diva Montserrat Caballé in the Ku-Club of Ibiza. A few months later, the title song of their joint album “Barcelona” was released, a hymn to Senora Caballé's hometown. In 1992 the song was chosen as the theme tune for the Olympic Games in Barcelona and became a top European hit that year. The album “Barcelona”, released in 1988, was not so successful, although Mercury and Caballé presented themselves as a powerful duo and the Queen singer generously lived out his weakness for musical melodrama and his love for classical motifs. “Guide Me Home” and “The Golden Boy” are brilliant examples of a male prima donna at the zenith of her work.

In 1990 Freddie Mercury went into the studio with Queen to record “Innuendo”. Even at this time he was badly affected by his illness, but found the strength for a final masterpiece together with Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Songs like “I'm Going Slightly Mad”, “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” and “The Show Must Go On” hinted at the inevitable. On November 24, 1991, Freddie's fight against AIDS ended; just 24 hours earlier he had publicly declared that he had the disease. The death of the most innovative and distinctive rock music ambassador, a true pioneer and regent of the show stage, marked the end of an era. Freddie Mercury may have found a worthy successor in the entertainer Robbie Williams, but his artistic legacy will last for generations. The album “The Very Best Of Freddie Mercury” and the DVD “Lover Of Life, Singer Of Songs” once again pay tribute to the man whom the heavenly muse kissed particularly deeply. His earthly existence may have been too limited, his artistic work is and remains limitless.
July 2006