Queen is certainly one of the most legendary rock bands in history, but their leader, Freddie Mercury, was really an extraordinary man. Thanks to his magnificent voice and incredible vocal range, he is considered the best singer of all time. But behind his appearance and lifestyle as a rock legend, Freddie was a complex man who hid many secrets.
Until his untimely death in 1991, Freddie Mercury remained faithful to his greatest passion, music, but suffered a lot on a personal level. After his death, his closest friends revealed many things about him that clearly showed what he was going through. Read on and discover everything you didn’t know about the greatest rock’n’ roll star.
1. Freddie Mercury’s real name
Queen is certainly one of the most influential rock bands in history. The way they played and mixed hard rock and pop rock shook up crowds around the world and left its mark, which will certainly remain etched in people’s minds for a long time to come. However, the band’s eccentricity is largely due to Freddie Mercury, who had crazy ideas and a good feeling for the songs.
Freddie was sure they would become legends, so he always gave his heart and soul in every song they recorded. That’s how Bohemian Rhapsody was born. However, Freddie Mercury was not the real name of the frontman. He was born under the name Farrokh Bulsara, but his name was not good enough for a career in music. That’s why the artist changed it.
Another thing you may not have heard of is that Freddie was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania, on September 5, 1946. His parents worked for the British government on the colonized island, but the family did not stay there too long.
The sandy beaches of Zanzibar were not intended to keep little Farrokh for long. Instead, his parents decided to send him to Bombay, India (now Mumbai) where he could go to St. Peter’s School, a British boarding school for boys. This school will prove to be very important for its future.
3. St. Peter’s School Boarding School
Little Freddie met music for the first time at his boarding school in Bombay where he fell in love with the piano. It turned out he was really talented, and all he had in mind was music. At the age of 12, he formed his very first group – the Hectics.
The former band members said he had an incredible talent for replaying everything he heard on the radio on the piano. They covered Western pop music like Cliff Richard and Little Richard. It was also at this time that he began to call himself “Freddie”.
4. Flight ticket to England
While Farrokh was finishing his studies, he decided to return to Zanzibar to visit his parents. However, the Bulsara family did not want to stay there for long, as they had to escape a violent riot in 1964, commonly known as the Zanzibar Revolution.
So Freddie and his family moved to England. When they settled, Freddie started attending art school and graduated in 1969. He graduated in graphic arts and design but got his first job as a worker at Heathrow Airport.
5. What happens next?
Freddie followed a band called Smile for a while, when the future guitarist and drummer of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor, were already playing. He loved their sound and decided that one day he would be part of their group. And, surprisingly, in 1970, he had an opportunity that will change his life forever.
The lead singer of The Smile has decided to leave the band. The band was, therefore, looking for a new singer. Freddie took the opportunity and asked to join them. He loved their sound, so he didn’t want them to separate. This is how he became the frontman and renamed the Queen group.
6. A sense of well-being
It seems that Freddie always knew he would do something important in his life. In fact, Chris Smith remembers Freddie as a great pop star. But one day, Freddie was sitting with his head in his hands, very sad. When asked what was wrong, Mercury replied: “I’m not going to become a pop star. I’m going to become a legend!”It’s as if he can predict what’s going to happen!
Everything the group and their leader did attract a lot of attention. First, the name of the band has been the subject of much controversy because of its association with the LGBTQ community. However, Queen was more than aware of what they were doing and soon this name would change everything.
7. Four octaves
As soon as they heard it, the members of his group were amazed by Freddie’s amazing and very rare voice. In fact, Freddie’s voice could reach four octaves. In comparison, Mariah Carey’s can reach 5 octaves and Celine Dion’s can reach 3 octaves.
No wonder the band didn’t want to lose Freddie with such a rare voice. But that wasn’t all that made Freddie so special. He was a natural interpreter who communicated easily with the audience. All he cared about was his life as a musician.
8. Freddie had 10 cats
Freddie loved cats a lot, and in fact, when he wasn’t in the studio, he loved spending time with his ten cats. He loved his cats so much that he treated them like his children.
Every time he was on tour, he would call his cats and ask them to talk to them. In addition, over time, her favorite cat became Delilah. He loved her so much that he even wrote a song about her on the Innuendo album.
9. Well hidden privacy
The public knew very little about Freddie’s personal life. When the band became famous, people realized that a woman named Mary Austin was still with Freddie. Both were incredibly in love and built a relationship of trust, love, and friendship. She was there for him before and after he was in Queen, and he proposed to her.
Although they never married, the couple lived together for six years, but something was still wrong. Finally, Freddie admitted that he was bisexual and their relationship broke up. Soon he started a relationship with Jim Hutton, a guy he had met in a bar in 1984. After they met, the couple was inseparable and remained together until their death.
10. An eclectic group
Queen was not eclectic in her musical choices. The group itself was made up of quite different people. Queen was actually a group of people who had other interests before joining the group.
Brian May had a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy, John Deacon was an electronics engineer, while Roger Taylor was a dentist. Freddie, on the other hand, had a degree in graphic arts. Fortunately, they all continued their passion for music.
11. The queen in the record stores
The first album Queen was released in 1973, and although the band was super excited to see their album in record stores, it didn’t sell very well. But when they released their second album, Queen II, everything changed.
After Queen II, they started advertising, which was very necessary for a nascent group. Soon, they also had the opportunity to broadcast their music on a television show called Lost Top of the Pops in 1974.
12. Not always easy
Mott the Hoople, an English rock’n’ roll band, invited them to cross the Atlantic together and open for their first game in the United States. The band agreed, but they still didn’t really make a living from their music. They were in debt and had no money.
That’s when they changed managers and hired John Reid, Elton John’s manager who had an excellent relationship with the group throughout their partnership. It was at this time that Queen recorded the album A Night at the Opera.
13. Bowie and Mercury
Before two legendary musicians, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie created one of the greatest Under Pressure songs, they didn’t have much luck and fame. They had to fight and fight for their passion like everyone else.
Bowie was the first to start. One day, he was about to perform in a small club and invited Mercury to help him build a stage. Finally, they made a “scene” from a few tables that they pushed together. Their idea did the trick, and fortunately, their “scene” did not collapse.
14. AIDS Organization
Freddie Mercury died of AIDS-related causes in 1991 in London. When this happened, the other Queen members and their manager, Jim Beach, wanted to raise awareness of the disease. They organized the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, which led to the launch of the Mercury Phoenix Trust.
They took advantage of the group’s great popularity to fund medical research and studies on possible AIDS vaccinations. The directors of this organization are all Freddie’s closest friends: Brian May, Roger Taylor, Jim Beach, and Mercury’s ex-girlfriend, Mary Austin.
15. Queen’s coat of arms
As mentioned above, Mercury graduated from Isleworth Polytechnic, now West Thames College, with a degree in graphic art and design. It even turned out that he used his design talent to create the logo of his famous band!
The logo is called “Queen Crest”, and Mercury designed it shortly before the release of their first album in 1973. The group logo includes a letter Q for Queen, as well as the zodiac signs of the four members: John Deacon and Roger Taylor are both lions, Brian May is cancer, while Freddie was a virgin.
16. Impressive results
But we all know Freddie Mercury for his other talents: singing and writing songs. In fact, Mercury was credited as a songwriter on 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits. Bohemian Rhapsody is only one of them.
Mercury died so prematurely, but he did not get all the credit he deserved for his talent as a songwriter. In 2003, Mercury was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2005, he received an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.
Mercury’s family was Zoroastrian, practicing the Middle Eastern religion known as Zoroastrianism. This religion is considered to be one of the oldest existing religions in the world. What is interesting is that Mercury has always believed in this religion.
In fact, his funeral was celebrated by a Zoroastrian priest. Zoroastrianism is also called Mazdayasna and is a monotheistic faith centered on a dualist religious concept of good and evil that believes in the ultimate destruction of evil.
17. Poor dental hygiene
While the band was promoting the release of A Day at the Races in 1976, they had to participate in the Today talk show with Bill Grundy. However, Mercury did not come because he had not visited his dentist for 15 years and it turned out that on the day of the show, he absolutely had to go see his dentist.
As a result, Queen’s label, EMI, sent another more recent band in place of Queen: the Sex Pistols. In fact, thanks to this show, the young punk band had the chance to make the big breakthrough it needed. They made an obscene scene in the show and won public condemnation, making it a hot topic in the music world. It seems that Sex Pistols may owe its success to Mercury’s poor dental hygiene at such an early stage.
18. Queen vs Sex Pistols
However, the Sex Pistols didn’t really show any gratitude to Queen for the luck they had. In fact, they hated Queen’s image and fame, while Mercury thought that what the Sex Pistols produced should not even be considered music.
But one day, the bands’ paths crossed in their common recording studio. John Lydon, commonly known as Johnny Rotten, was very polite when speaking to Queen, while Sid Vicious tried to fight with the lead singer of Queen. Mercury did not take an interest in it and responded by belittling Sid Vicious and calling him “Simon Ferocious”.
19. Solo career
Although Mercury will always be known as Queen’s frontman, he also had a solo career. In 1985 and 1988, Freddie recorded two solo albums. The albums were a great commercial success, but there was still something that disturbed the critics.
Critics were very confused because of the combination of opera and pop music. It seems that critics thought that Bohemian Rhapsody was nevertheless good in itself.
20. Durable power
When Mercury died in 1991, Queen’s sales soared after modest sales in the 1980s. We think his tragic death helped the band sell more albums.
But others also believe that sales have increased so dramatically thanks to the use of Bohemian Rhapsody in the popular comedy Wayne’s World. While these two factors have certainly influenced dramatic sales, it is undeniable that Queen’s music and power are elements that will last for decades.
21. Bottomless microphone
One of the symbols that made Mercury memorable was also his interpretation with a “bottomless microphone”. But, this habit was the result of an accident. When Queen was still a very young band and they were just getting started, Mercury’s microphone stand broke in half in the middle of a song.
Mercury decided to continue playing, without even trying to exchange it. The scene was so strong that they all decided that Mercury should continue to play like that even afterward.
22. Elton John thought Bohemian Rhapsody was risky
When the song Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded, everyone was shocked. Even Elton John found the song too long. The producers also begged Freddie to shorten the song, because everyone was complaining about its length, but Freddie refused.