Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? On this day, in 1946, a boy named Farrokh Bulsara was born. Later in his life, he would change his name to Freddie Mercury and he would go on to be one of the greatest singers in rock history.
Born to parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, Mercury was born in Zanzibar, East Africa on September 5, 1946. He also had a younger sister named Kashmira. The family had lived in Zanzibar so that his father could continue his job as a cashier at the British Colonial Office.
He spent his childhood mostly in India, where he began taking piano lessons at the age of seven. By the time he was twelve, he had formed a school band, The Hectics, with his friends and they covered rock and roll artists such as Cliff Richard and Little Richard. It was around this time when he began to call himself Freddie.
In 1964, Mercury and his family moved to England, where he studied art at Isleworth Polytechnic (now West Thames College) in West London but ultimately earned his diploma at Ealing Art College.
Mercury was in a few bands prior to joining forces with Brian May and Roger Taylor (both to whom Mercury was already acquainted with, and eventually became the band’s guitarist and drummer, respectively). They met up with bassist John Deacon in 1971, and together they became the band Queen. By this time, Mercury had already dropped his surname Bulsara.
He was widely noted for his impressive four-octave vocal range, his songwriting, and his ability to engage the crowd (just take a look at this photo of him with Darth Vader!). He, alongside Queen, shook the music scene with their experimentation and their diverse range of genres and styles like in their hits, Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, Don’t Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and We Are the Champions. Mercury was also known for his tendency to write musically-complex but brilliant material as shown in their classic hit Bohemian Rhapsody.
While his sexual orientation was an aspect of himself that he never tried to hide, Mercury did not disclose his HIV status to the public for several years. He, along with his trusted friends and family, continuously denied the allegations that he was seriously ill despite photographs of him looking gaunt and frail. It was only on November 23, 1991 that an official statement was released confirming that he was HIV positive and that he had AIDS. Mercury passed away the next day at age 45.
In closing, let us remember this amazing artist and pay tribute to his musical legacy by listening to one of their greatest hits, Bohemian Rhapsody.