Childhood & Early Life
Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara, to Parsi parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, on September 5, 1946, in the British territory of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, a part of present day Tanzania. Farrokh, his younger sibling Kashmira, and their parents were practising Zoroastrians.
Young Freddie was raised in India, where he was taught the piano at a tender age of seven. He was educated at the 'St. Peter's School' in Panchgani, near Mumbai, beginning 1954. A music lover from his early days, one of his earliest idols was Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar.
While in school, Farrokh began referring to himself as Freddie, and in 1958, he formed a music group, 'The Hectics.' The band performed rock and roll songs sung by Little Richard and Cliff Richard.
In 1963, Farrokh went back to his hometown, to live with his parents, but the family had to relocate after the commencement of the 'Zanzibar Revolution,' which was aimed at deposing the Arab Sultan. They settled down in the town of Feltham, England, living in a small house.
Freddie began pursuing a course in art from West London's 'Isleworth Polytechnic' (present day West Thames College). He graduated with a diploma in Art and Graphic Designing from the 'Ealing Art College.
After his graduation, he earned his living by selling old clothes in London's 'Kensington Market' and working at the 'Heathrow Airport.' He also performed for various music bands, such as 'Ibex' and 'Sour Milk Sea.
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In April 1970, the talented singer, along with English drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May, formed a band named 'Queen.' After its formation, the band, consisting of other musicians, was managed by 'Trident Studios.' He also changed his name from Farrokh Bulsara to Freddie Mercury.
During the 1970s, Freddie worked as singer-songwriter for several albums produced by his band, 'Queen.' The band played rock-and-roll music, and shot to fame because of Freddie, who, despite having a baritone voice, sang brilliantly in the tenor range.
Some of the popular albums of the band were ‘Sheer Heart Attack,’ 'A Day at the Races,' 'News of the World,' 'The Game,' and their self-titled records.
On October 26, 1981, Queen released 'Greatest Hits,' which is a compilation of songs from various albums of the band. Out of the seventeen singles featured on the album, ten were penned by Mercury.
During 1981–1983, Freddie collaborated with Michael Jackson on soundtracks like 'State of Shock,' 'There Must Be More to Life Than This,' and 'Victory.'
Though none of these songs were officially made public, Jackson included the single 'State of Shock' in his album entitled 'Victory,' in collaborated with Mick Jagger. Mercury released 'There Must Be More to Life Than This' as a part of his solo album, 'Mr. Bad Guy.'
During this period, Freddie also teamed up with 'Queen' drummer Roger Taylor to produce the main track for the album 'Emotions in Motion,' an album by rock musician Billy Squier.
In 1984, he attempted to go solo with the song 'Love Kills,' from musician Richard Wolf's album 'Metropolis: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.'
The following year, 'Queen' performed at the 'Live Aid' concert on July 13, 1985. The concert was aimed at raising funds for the victims of the famine in Ethiopia, and the concert turned out to be a huge success. The band's live performance was even telecast on the TV show, 'The World's Greatest Gigs.'
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Around this time, the gifted singer released his first solo album, 'Mr. Bad Guy,' collaborating with keyboardists, rather than playing the piano himself.
In 1986, Freddie once again collaborated with rock artist Billy Squier for the latter's album 'Enough Is Enough.' The rock-and-roll singer sang the song 'Love is the Hero,' and arranged music for 'Lady With a Tenor Sax.'
In 1986, Mercury performed with his band, 'Queen,' at Budapest, in front of nearly 80,000 fans. August 9 marked the last performance of the singer in collaboration with his band, when he sang at England's ‘Knebworth Park,' ending the concert with the country's national anthem, 'God Save the Queen.'
In 1988, Freddie released his second studio album , 'Barcelona,' where he paired up with Spanish soprano singer, Montserrat Caballé. The album contained soundtracks in Spanish, Japanese, and English.
Awards & Achievements
In 1990, Freddie, as a part of 'Queen,' received the 'Brit Awards' for 'Outstanding Contribution to Music.'
In 1992, after his death, he received the 'Brit Award' for 'Outstanding Contribution to British Music.'
Freddie, along with other members of 'Queen,' was inducted into various Halls of Fame, posthumously.
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Family, Personal Life & Legacy
Freddie Mercury was in a relationship with Mary Austin, in the early 1970s. He lived with her at West Kensington, London, for almost 6 years.
In 1976, he embarked on an affair with a male employee of 'Elektra Records.' When Freddie disclosed his sexuality to Mary, their romantic relationship ended.
In the mid-1980s, he is said to have dated an Austrian actress Barbara Valentin, but this, too, did not last long. According to some sources, for some time, Mercury dated a German restaurateur Winfried Kirchberger.
Thereafter, he dated Jim Hutton, an Irish-born male hairdresser. Hutton tested positive for HIV in 1990. He lived with Mercury for the last six years of his life. He was by his bedside when Mercury died.
Mercury was a close friend of RJ Kenny Everett. They first met in 1974 on Everett's radio show on Capital FM. Everett was openly gay, but they were never lovers. By the mid-1980, they fell out over some disagreements, and reconciled only around 1989, when both suffered with HIV.
During 1986-87, Mercury found out that he was suffering from AIDS, and his health began failing. It was during this time that Hutton and Mercury's former girlfriend, Mary, took care of him.
Freddie Mercury died from bronchial pneumonia, caused by AIDS, on November 24, 1991. Three days later, his funeral was held according to Parsi customs. The service was attended by all the members of his band, and singer Elton John, amongst other close family members and friends.
The popular singer was inhumed at the Kensal Green Cemetery, West London, while his ashes were later relocated to an unknown location by Mary Austin.
In his will, the singer left his house to Austin, and other possessions and money were distributed between his long-term partner, Jim Hutton, family, and people working for him.
The song 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' written and performed by Mercury, was featured in the 1992 film, 'Wayne's World.'
'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'We Are the Champions' have been chosen as the greatest songs of all time by the 'Guinness Book of World Records.' Both the songs are also a part of the 'Grammy Hall of Fame.'
'Queen' released 'Made in Heaven' in 1995, an album that included a few never-heard-before songs by Freddie.
A statue in Switzerland was erected as a tribute to this great musician.