Queen is one of the most influential bands of the 20th century. Even if you weren’t a die-hard fan, you’ve surely heard their songs at least once in your life. Queen was a band like no other has been, or ever will be, and Freddie Mercury was at the helm of it all. He created an original sound that turned into classic masterpieces, like Bohemian Rhapsody. But Mercury wasn’t always the stage legend people know him as. This artist, which was a natural-born performer, had a very interesting past, and his transition from a traditional, conservative Persian household into one of the world’s biggest musicians was an epic one.
Here are 30 things we bet you didn’t know about Mercury’s life.
Freddie Mercury's real name was Farrokh Bulsara
Did you know that Freddie Mercury was born as Farrokh Bulsara, to Persian parents from India? He was born in Zanzibar, on September 5, 1946. His father worked in the British Colonial Office as a cashier, and they were quite a conservative Persian family.
Farrokh started by going by the name of Freddie when he was a young boy studying in Mumbai, which his family had sent him to when he was 8 years old. However, he legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury around 1970, when Queen started. He chose ‘Mercury’ because he really liked the hot liquid chemical element, and Mercury has his start sign, too! In Persian mythology, Mercury is the messenger of truth and love, which he considered himself to be as well.
He was born in Zanzibar
When you think of Freddie Mercury, you think of crowns and a king’s cape. You think of insanely high vocal ranges and fabulous stage dancing, wild parties and sex, drugs and rock and roll. But many don’t know of Freddie’s life as a simple boy in Zanzibar, where he was born.
After his parents sending to boarding school in what is now Mumbai, they realized he had a natural talent for playing the piano. As his mother once said, “Right from the start, Freddie was musical. He had it on his mind all the time.” He even started a school band called The Hectics, when he was only 12 years old, and they covered rock and roll artists like Little Richard. Mercury was obsessed with Western pop music.
Mercury was a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport
Freddie returned to Zanzibar when he finished school in Mumbai, but in 1964, he moved to England with his family in order to escape the violent riots that were to be the start of the Zanzibar Revolution. They moved to a small house in Middlesex, England.
Wanting him to have a college education, his parents convinced him to start studying. Freddie studied art in West London for a while, and then switched to graphic art and design, which he graduated from in 1969, earning a 2-year diploma. Mercury started a part-time job as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. He loved music and was often seen at many underground concerts in London, until he met Brian May and Roger Taylor, which were the guitarist and drummer of Smile, a band he joined in 1970s. Mercury changed the band’s name to Queen in 1971.
“I’m not going to be a pop star. I’m going to be a legend!”
Freddie knew he was destined to be a legend since he was a little boy. His unparalleled passion for music was something out of this world, which was what made him the rock and roll giant he became. Before he became their lead singer, Mercury listened to the band Smile every time they had a gig. He loved their sound, and was determined to be a part of it.
Freddie was so sure that he was going to make it as a musician, that he used to say he was going to be a big pop start all the time, to anyone who would listen. Chris Smith, once a member of Smile, recalls seeing Mercury with his hands on his face one time, and when he asked if he was okay, Freddie just shouted, “I’m not going to be a pop star. I’m going to be a legend!” You were right, Mr. Mercury.
Mercury's first time on stage
Freddie became Smile’s lead singer in the most unexpected way. The band’s lead singer at the time left the band in 1970, leaving a spot open for new talent. Being so in love with their sound and not wanting them to disband for good, Freddie took the chance and told the other band members he wanted to be their lead singer. All it took was for the other band members to hear his voice.
Mercury immediately became part of the band, and later changed its name to Queen, which caused a lot of controversy at the time, due to its association to the LGBTQ community. Freddie simply said he loved the name because “it was regal and sounded splendid! Controversy or not, Queen was about to change the history of music, forever.
He had a four octave vocal range
Apart from his intoxicating, flamboyant one-of-a-kind stage persona, Freddie had a voice range that was very extraordinary and extremely uncommon among other artists. And people, in general. He could hit a four octave range with his voice. To give you a little perspective, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey are among few other artists with a four octave vocal range - not your standard singers, are they?
As soon as the band heard Freddie’s voice, they knew he was something else. Add to that his unique and charismatic personality, and his incomparable performance every time he went on stage, and you’ve got yourself a rock and roll legend.
Queen created a new sound
Queen started gaining fans and establishing itself as a popular band in 1973. Once people started seeing Mercury on stage, they were mesmerized. He left audiences in awe and they started to fall in love with his stage persona, he would bring the crowds to life with a simple movement of hands.
It was a time when heavy rock was very mainstream, with bands like The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zepellin. Even though Queen was considered rock and roll, it had a different sound than the rest of the heavy rock bands of the time, because they created new sounds and melodies that nobody had ever heard before.
Farrokh Bulsara officially changes his name to Freddie Mercury
With the band becoming more popular by the day, Freddie decided that it was time for him to have a name worthy of start status. And so, he decided to officially change his last name from Bulsara to Mercury.
As we mentioned above, Freddie chose the name ‘Mercury’ because of his love for its significance in Persian mythology - which regarded it as a messenger of truth and love, due to the fact that it was the closest planet to Earth. And, Freddie was a firm believer in astrology, and Mercury was his star sign.
The band with the astronomer, the biologist, the engineer, and the graphic artist
What’s even more interesting, Freddie Mercury wasn’t the only band member with a unique mind. Queen’s other band members were quite a special bunch, each holding degrees in different professions.
Queen’s guitarist, Brian May, has a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy (which he completed in 2007); John Deacon, the bassist, has a Bachelor's degree in electronics; and Roger Taylor, the drummer, went to medical school and studied dentistry, but decided to change to biology and graduated with a BSc from East London Polytechnic. And in came Freddie, with his 2-year diploma in graphic arts. Thankfully, they all decided to dedicate their lives to music, instead of their impressive professions.
Their first album didn't sell
Queen recorded its first album in 1973, titled “Queen”. The band was ecstatic, it was the first time they’d recorded an album and couldn’t wait to see how audiences reacted to this new sound. Unfortunately, not many people bought their records, since Queen wasn’t such a popular, mainstream band yet.
Their second album, however, was an entirely different story. The band released their second album, “Queen II”, in March of 1974. But this time, they’d had the chance to broadcast their music on TV a month before, on a TV show called “Lost Top of the Pops”. Their media exposure helped propel their album sales, and Queen started to enjoy commercial success on a grand scale for the first time.
Queen became famous by playing an opening act
Later on that year, on May 1974, Queen caught their big break by being asked to do the opening act for an English band called Mott the Hoople, which already had a big following in the UK at the time. Mott the Hoople had listened to Queen and liked their sound so much, that they asked them to be their opening act in a concert they had in the US, making this the first time that Queen would perform in front of an American audience.
Unfortunately, the band had to return home before the tour was over, after their guitarist, Brian May, woke up very ill one day with Hepatitis B. The illness was so acute that it almost caused May to lose his arm, but fortunately this wasn’t necessary and he recovered. Can you imagine if they’d amputated Queen guitarist’s arm?!
Dumping your manager is a sign of real success
Queen went on to release their third album, “Sheer Heart Attack”, which featured the well-known masterpiece, ‘Killer Queen’. The song was written by Freddie, and the album received high praise from critics, both in the UK and the United States.
Surprisingly enough, the band didn’t make nearly as much profit as they’d thought, with their newfound fame and glory. They found themselves still very much in debt. They discovered the production company they’d been working with had been robbing them blind, and Queen decided they weren’t going to take this anymore. Bravo!
High expectations for "The Night at the Opera"
Queen decided it was time for new management. And they went for none other than John Reid, which was also Elton John’s manager at the time. It was a match made in heaven. Reid recognized Queen’s talent, and they went on to have a very fruitful professional relationship from there on out.
Queen was set to release a new album, “A Night at the Opera”, and they had a lot invested in its success, since they desperately needed a significant income. They knew that if this album didn’t make it big, they would most possibly would have had to dissolve the band and go their separate ways. Of course, fortunately, this didn’t happen.
Elton John said “Bohemian Rhapsody” wouldn't be a hit
“Bohemian Rhapsody” became one of Queen’s musical masterpieces. But no one could have predicted this at the time. In fact, very few people know that when Reid showed the finished track to Elton John, he said “Are you mad?!” He was referring to the fact that the song was over six minutes long! Not a good recipe for a hit single, since mainstream tunes at the time rarely went over the 3 minute mark.
But Freddie wouldn’t budge. When producers asked him to make the song shorter, he simply refused. He had created “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a vision in mind - to create a rock and roll opera, the first of its kind. Turns out the audience knew how to appreciate it, and the producers couldn’t have been more wrong. The song became number one on the music charts in the UK, where it stayed for nine weeks straight.
Freddie Was Very Private About His Personal Life
Freddie Mercury was very private about his personal life. Very few people actually knew what was going on behind the scenes. Apart from his band mates, the only other person who was ever really close to Freddie was his friend, Mary Austin, which he met in 1969.
They had a beautiful relationship, based on honesty and trust. As time passed, they grew closer and fell in love. They eventually moved in together, and one day, Freddie proposed.
Freddie Was Engaged To Be Married
Mary was there from the start. She knew Freddie Mercury before he was the face of Queen, and she continued to know him well after. They got on so well that when Freddie proposed, with a Jade ring, which he placed in a box, within a bigger box, within a bigger box, Mary said yes.
They were engaged for six years, but never actually got married. Mary started noticing that her and Freddie were drifting apart, and there was something different about him. Whenever she tried to speak to him about it, he would tell her that he loved her, and said everything was fine. But finally, Mary made a decision to leave.
His Secret Sexual Identity
Austin inspired the beautiful song, “Love of My Life”. And to some degree, she was and always will be. But after a six-year engagement, and Freddie growing more distant than ever, Austin decided to end their romantic relationship and broke it off. She was convinced he was having an affair.
When confronted by Austin, Freddie decided it was time to tell his best friend the truth - he was bisexual. Austin, in turn, told him she was convinced he wasn’t bisexual, but gay. She told him she’d known this deep down for a very long time, but understood that Mercury was still struggling with his sexual identity. Regardless, they remained close friend for the rest of Freddie’s life.
Mercury Meets Another "Love of His Life"
After coming out as a bisexual, Freddie started dating men and women. Until one night, in 1984, Freddie met Jim Hutton in a bar. They became close, and by 1985, were basically inseparable.
Mercury and Hutton kept their private lives to themselves. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that Hutton decided to share their story with the world, through his autobiography, Mercury and Me. They stayed together until Freddie’s death, in 1991. Hutton stayed by his side through it all.
Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson Almost Recorded Together
Freddie loved the Jackson 5, and was an avid fan of Michael Jackson long before he became the face of Queen. When returning from his tour in South America, Freddie almost recorded a song with the king of pop. But there was something about Jackson that didn’t quite sit well with Mercury.
For some reason, they were never in agreement when trying to record or were never in the same country long enough to finish. Already frustrated, things came to a definite end after Freddie called his band to come pick him up from the recording studio because Michael Jackson had brought a llama with him!
“A Night at the Opera” was a very expensive album for its time. Its production cost around $500,000, which was an absurd amount of money back in 1975. There’s a reason why “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Love of My Life” were such colossal hits. Just for “Bohemian Rhapsody”, they had to use six different recording studios!
This album finally started to bring fame and money to Queen, and by the 1980’s, everyone knew about Queen. And their success crossed continents, because in 1981 they received a call saying that they were to go on a tour in South America. Apparently, Argentina and Brazil were crazy about Queen!
Queen Got A Huge Offer
The band was shocked, especially after getting an offer to do a concert in a massive soccer stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. First of all, they were doubtful of whether they could actually fill an entire soccer stadium, and secondly, they were hesitant about visiting a country that was still very much under dictatorship.
Nonetheless, Queen decided to go for it, and soon enough, they were in conversations with the country’s Army General to decide whether they could put together a concert that could hold more than 50,000 people in a single space. Afraid of big crowd riots, the general had his doubts, but Queen still decided to take the risk.
An unforgettable performance
Queen flew to Argentina in 1981 and gave one of the biggest performances in their career, to an audience of 100,000 people. Turns out, Freddie was a master when it came to entertaining large crowds. The way he carried the microphone everywhere on stage, and the way he danced, was something no one had ever seen before.
His stage performance dazzled audiences in Argentina in Brazil, and when they returned to the UK, they felt the sky was the limit. Shortly after, they traveled to Canada to record in one of the best studios in North America.
Mercury lived with ten cats
As if he wasn’t interesting enough already, Freddie was also an avid animal lover, especially cats. He had ten cats at home, which he treated like children. His first pair cats were Tom and Jerry, which he adopted when he was living with Mary Austin.
But he did have a favorite, a calico cat named Delilah. Mercury even wrote a song about her, appropriately called “Delilah”, which is featured in his “Innuendo” album. The cat was just as in love with Freddie, and stayed by his side until the day he passed away.
A bump in the road
Even after their big success in South America, and their rising fame in the United States, Queen still had its issues with record sales. Turns out some of their albums weren’t selling as well as their second and third ones.
The band decided to take a break, and each member started working on individual projects. Of course, the plan was always to regroup. This is when John Deacon wrote “I Want to Break Free” and Roger Taylor wrote “Radio Gaga”. The band had quickly climbed back to the top of the charts, and they were ready for a big comeback. But once again, something stopped them.
Their music video was banned in the United States
Even though the song, “I Want to Break Free”, was a major hit in the US and England, the music video wasn’t so well received. They wanted to dress in drag and film a unique music video to go with the powerful song. But the US wasn’t so keen about it.
They wanted the video to be a comical reference to a famous British TV show at the time, called “Coronation Street”. Unsurprisingly, European countries understood it and got a kick out of it. But Americans, not so much. The video was banned by several American television stations.
The biggest performance of their lives
This caused Queen to lose demand and popularity with their American audiences. But they managed to make a successful comeback with their historic performance in the 1985 Live Aid Concert at Wembley Stadium. One of rock history’s most iconic performances to this date.
Queen was allotted an 18-minute set, but performed for nearly an hour. No one knew how to captivate audiences, especially a stadium crowd, like Freddie Mercury. Anyone who’s seen recordings of this concert is mesmerized, imagine actually being there. He could’ve gone on for much more than an hour, and people would’ve never stopped him.
Something wasn't quite right with Freddie
The Live Aid concert gave Queen the energy it needed. It boosted their energies and filled their hearts with the love of music that had brought them all together in the first place. This had been the best performance of their careers, and they couldn’t wait to take on the world by storm once again.
However, something wasn’t quite right. There was something going on with Freddie, and strangely, somehow, it felt as if this had been one of the last times he would perform. Tragically, this proved to be true.
As it turned out, Freddie had discovered he was HIV positive. He managed to keep this a secret from the public until the last days of his life. His partner, Jim Hutton, would later come to reveal that he was first diagnosed in 1987.
His band mates were destroyed by the news, they couldn’t believe such a beautiful and iconic person had so little time left. But Freddie, as always, decided he was going to enjoy every single minute of it, writing and singing until the very last second. And that’s exactly what he did. The band kept Freddie’s illness a secret, as he had requested. But soon enough, it started to show on Mercury’s physical appearance.
Freddie got weaker with time, and being such a fashion icon, he was worried about how he’d started to look. Eventually, he realized he was no longer able to perform live. With time, even performing for cameras became difficult. During the last year of his life, there were moments when he could barely stand.
Soon, he was confined to his bed and slowly started to realize that he had so many unfinished projects and works of art that he wouldn’t have time to complete. One of these was “Mother Love”, written by guitarist Brian May, which features the last ever vocals sung by Mercury, six months before his death.
A legacy that would last forever
Shortly after his 45th birthday, Freddie Mercury passed away on November 24, 1991. He was next to his husband, Jim Hutton, and his beloved animals, in their beautiful home in London. Freddie left 50% of what he owned to his best friend, Mary Austin, and his ten cats. The remaining 50% was left to his partner, Jim Hutton, some friends, and Freddie's mother and sister. But he left the world a much more precious inheritance.
Freddie Mercury was one of those musicians that only come around once in a lifetime. He was a true, natural-born artist than shone radiant light wherever he went. He gave the world music, in its most beautiful form. His persona and his music have continued to touch people’s lives over generations. Mercury taught the world there is nothing more important than being true to yourself and being in love with what you do because only then are we able to change the world.
Mercury And Princess Di Went Clubbing
Freddie used to dress up Princess Diana and disguise her so she could go out with the band on nights out and no one would recognize her
It all started one night, in the 80s, Mercury and some friends were headed to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, which was the most famous gay bar in London at the time. Diana was with them and decided she wanted to join, so in order for her not to be hounded by paparazzi or splashed on the British tabloids the next day, Freddie and a friend dressed her up in drag – trying to make her look like a “gay male model”! We’re sure the Queen would have been thrilled to see Princess Di like that!
Bohemian Rhapsody was “rhyming non-sense”
We all know Bohemian Rhapsody made rock and roll history at the time, being a new, never-heard-of-before musical composition that drove crowds crazy. It was the first popular single in history that didn’t have a chorus and featured such different musical styles. Not to mention its rock opera, guitar solo and ballad notes.
Safe to say, Bohemian Rhapsody was a groundbreaking song unlike nothing the world had ever heard, and it was only logical that everyone starts wondering what the story behind the grand song’s strange musical arrangements and deep, heart-touching lyrics was. To which Freddie just replied, “It bears no real meaning, it’s all rhyming nonsense”.
Kurt Cobain's Suicide Note Mentioned Freddie
The world was devastated when Nirvana’s lead singer, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide in 1994. Music suffered a great loss with this brilliant musician’s death. What many don’t know, though, is that Cobain mentioned Mercury in his suicide note, saying he “admired and envied his ability to perform and embrace the love of the audience, and how he “seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd”.
And indeed this was a unique trait of Freddie’s, he had the ability to connect with his audience in a way that moved bodies and souls.
Freddie Designed Queen’s Famous Crest Logo
As we’ve mentioned above, Freddie studied design in college, and he was a very talented artist. Freddie designed the band’s famous crest logo shortly after the release of Queen’s first album, in 1973.
It was made up of the zodiac signs of each of the band members, two lions for Leo (Deacon and Taylor’s sign), a crab for Cancer (May’s sign) and two fairies for Virgo (Freddie’s sign). To top it all off, he designed a majestic phoenix over it all, with its wings open. We’re not sure what the phoenix stands for, but we can probably come up with a few good theories.
His Headboard Was A Piano
Like many musical geniuses, Freddie sometimes got his inspiration at the oddest of times. Since he worried he’d forget an idea before writing it down on paper, he decided to have a piano installed as a bed headboard.
What’s even funnier is that, since he was double-jointed, he didn’t even have to turn around to play it. Talk about convenience.
Mercury Never Abandoned Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world, founded by the prophet Zoroaster in Iran, approximately 4,000 years ago, and Freddie’s family were avid practitioners of this Middle Eastern religion.
Zoroastrianism preaches that doing good deeds is the only way for a person to be happy and avoid chaos. They believe life is a temporary journey in which people must fight falsehood and defend the truth at all costs. Pretty nice, huh? Freddie never abandoned his religion and was a believer in Zoroastrianism until the very end of his life. The service at his funeral was performed by a Zoroastrian priest.
Freddie's Trademark “Bottomless Mic”
Freddie’s trademark “bottomless mic” started as a complete accident. As it turns out, during one of Queen’s first shows, Mercury’s mic stand broke while he was performing a song. Refusing to change it in the middle of the show and disrupt the song, he simply continued to sing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Allegedly, Freddie much preferred it this way and demanded this setup was used for all subsequent shows. They called it “bottomless mic” because he basically just used the boom and the microphone, without the stand.
Freddie's Parting Gift To Elton John
Freddie loved giving nicknames to all his close friends. And Elton John was one of them. They both gave each other nicknames, calling them their “drag alter-egos”. Elton’s nickname was “Sharon” and Freddie’s was “Melina”.
On Christmas of 1994, a few weeks after Mercury passed away, Elton received a knock on his door. It was a mutual friend holding a package wrapped in a pillowcase. It was a gift Freddie had left for Elton just before he died. When John took out the package, he saw a painting by one of his favorite artists, the British painter Henry Scott Tuke, and a note that read “Dear Sharon, thought you’d like this. Love, Melina. Happy Christmas”
A 10-foot Statue Of Freddie In Switzerland
Being the icon that he was, and his incomparable musical legacy, it’s only logical that a monument is built in his honor. In 1996, a ten-foot statue was erected in Freddie Mercury’s honor, overlooking Lake Geneva, in Switzerland.
They unveiled the statue in a beautiful ceremony, to which Mercury’s father and two of his bandmates attended – Brian May and Roger Taylor.
An Epic Send-Off
The first case of AIDS in the US was in April 1980. Seven years later, Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with the disease, and after his death in 1991, he became the first major rock star to die of an AIDS-related complication.
This helped shine a light and raise awareness for the terrible disease that took the U.S. by storm in the 1980s. AIDS had been a taboo subject and as an issue, had been ignored for years. Mercury’s bandmates decided to plan a concert in their friend’s honor, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. Some of the biggest artists in the history of rock and roll and pop performed live at the event. Including David Bowie, Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Spinal Tap, George Michael, Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, and more. Elizabeth Taylor gave an intense AIDS prevention speech.
Freddie Wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” In The Bathtub
One of Queen’s most famous songs, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, came about in the most unexpected of ways. In the summer of 1979, Mercury was in a luxurious hotel in Munich, recording The Game studio album, when he decided to take a bath.
Within minutes, he tells the story of how he got a tune stuck in his head and he instantly knew that it had to be written down. He quickly got out, wrapped a towel around his waist, and asked Queen’s head of road crew to give him an acoustic guitar. Mercury played the tune and wrote a song in “five to ten minutes”, as he puts it. Turned out, he was right to be so hasty, as that little tune was “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”!
Mercury’s Love for Cats (Part 2)
As we mentioned before, Mercury was a big lover of cats. He lived with nearly 10 cats, which he loved dearly, and even dedicated an album to, “Mr. Bad Guy”. So, maybe this next bit of information won’t be so surprising by now, but still, we found it worth mentioning.
According to some of his closest friends, every time Freddie went on tour, he would call his house once a day and ask whoever was watching the cats, to put them on the phone one by one so they could hear his voice. Such a legend!
A Man Like No Other
By 1990, Queen had started to work on a new album, Innuendo. But by this time, Freddie had been battling AIDS for some time and was in the last stages of the illness, barely being able to even walk. When May wrote “The Show Must Go On”, he wasn’t sure Freddie would be able to sing at all, but as we already know, we’re not talking about a regular human being here. Mercury recorded the powerful vocals in a single, breathtaking take.
Freddie was so ill by then, that the video for the song was basically a montage of old footage from the band’s live performances, and he only appears briefly, shooting down a shot of vodka and saying, “I’ll fucking do it, darling”. And he certainly did.
Freddie And Star Wars
It is said that Freddie wasn’t a huge fan of fantasy or sci-fi, but in 1980, he did a particularly odd show of support for the genre.
This was the year when Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was about to be released, and during a concert one night, Mercury decided to show his excitement for the groundbreaking sci-fi classic by singing “We Will Rock You” while sitting on the shoulders of a roadie that was dressed as Darth Vader! How we wish someone would’ve filmed this.
The Sex Pistols Owe Their Fame To Mercury
You’ve probably heard of the legendary British punk band, The Sex Pistols. What you probably don’t know, is that if it weren’t for Freddie, you wouldn’t have. As it turns out, Queen was booked to appear on a famous British TV show in 1976 to promote their new album, A Day At The Races.
However, Freddie had scheduled a dentist appointment that he couldn’t miss (sounds logical since it was his first dental visit in 15 years! Since they canceled at the last minute, the show’s crew found a replacement band – The Sex Pistols. This appearance sky-rocketed them to fame.
Freddie Mercury vs. Sid Vicious
Ironically though, a few months after this happened, in 1977, Mercury and Vicious had a less-than-friendly encounter. Queen was recording their album, News of the World, at Wessex Studios in London, when Sid Vicious suddenly came in and mockingly asked Freddie “Have you succeeded in bringing ballet to the masses yet?”, and drunkenly tried to pick a fight.
What’s funny, though, is that Freddie was never in the least bit bothered by this. In fact, he would say that “he wasn’t going to get into it” with ‘Simon Ferocious’, as Mercury nicknamed Sid (his middle name was Simon). Mercury liked to tease Sid, answering “What are you gonna do about it?” every time he was told to not use that nickname anymore since Vicious hated it. The Sex Pistols hated Queen’s entire image and unparalleled fame.
Freddie Never Tied His Own Shoelaces
We’ve heard about some rock stars having weird requests before a show, quirky obsessions, and just overall insane behavior. Freddie was no different, except that his obsession was with not tying his shoes.
Yup, you read that right. Freddie believed that tying your own shoelaces was “just not the thing done in rock and roll”. In fact, one time in 1977, when the band was getting ready for a show, Mercury is seen relaxing in a chair while a crew member tied his shoelaces! When asked about it, he replied, "Oh no, I never tie my own shoelace, I mean never!”
The Last Concert
Even though he would appear before an audience again in 1990, Mercury’s last live performance with his beloved bandmates was in August 1986.
Queen gave a massive concert at Knebworth Park, a famous venue in Knebworth, England. It is reported that over 160,000 people attended the event.
The Last Time
In 1990, Queen won the ‘British Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music’, and as it turned out, this was to be the very last time Freddie Mercury would appear in public. By this time, Freddie’s illness had taken over; he looked pale and emaciated, and he was oddly quiet, in comparison to his normal flamboyant self.
After Brian May spoke on behalf of the band, giving a short acceptance and thank you speech, Freddie gently leaned into the microphone and just said, "Thank you…good night.” No one would hear from Mercury again, until November of 1991, when he issued an official statement, confirming he had AIDS. One day later, he died.
A Secret Resting Place
Unlike other legendary rock stars that passed before their time, whom you can go and pay your respects to, Mercury’s resting place is unknown until this day. He was immediately cremated after passing away on November 24th, 1991, and his best friend and ex-wife, Mary Austin, kept the ashes.
Two years after, Mary left her house one day, making sure to avoid paparazzi, and took the ashes with her. She then said that Freddie had always wanted to be laid to rest in a secret place where nobody would disturb him. Not even his family was told.
High Praise From A Famous Soprano
One of Freddie’s solo albums was recorded with Spanish operatic soprano, Montserrat Caballe. They recorded the album “Barcelona” together, and Caballe went on to say that “the difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was that he was selling the voice.”
She continued to say, “His technique was astonishing. No problem of tempo, he sang with an incisive sense of rhythm, his vocal placement was very good and he was able to glide effortlessly from a register to another.
Mercury And David Bowie
Mercury collaborated with David Bowie on the song “Under Pressure”. However, when they were recording the song, it is said there were many explosive discussions between the two artists. Despite this, Bowie always claimed to have immense respect for Mercury, claiming “I have to respect a man who wears tights!” Curiously so, Bowie and Mercury had already met twice, many years before.
The first time was back at the start of their careers. Freddie was working in a clothing store, and one day, Bowie came in looking for some new clothes. Even though he had just seen critical success with “Space Oddity”, Bowie was in deep financial trouble and couldn’t afford to pay for anything. The store’s manager told him he could have a free pair of boots. And guess who fitted them for him…that’s right, our very own king of Queen, Freddie Mercury.
And The Oscar Goes To...
For those of you who don't know, a film about Mercury's life came out in 2018, called Bohemian Rhapsody. In the film, Freddie Mercury is played by actor Rami Malek, who said that "being offered the part of Freddie Mercury was a gun-to-the-head moment". And we can certainly understand why. Nevertheless, seems like Malek chose well since he recently took home an Oscar Award for Best Actor. And that's not all the biopic masterpiece won.
It also won in the 'Best Sound Editing', 'Best Sound Mixing' and 'Best Editing' categories. Although there was a lot of controversy surrounding the film, some claiming that it was historically inaccurate, and Mary Austin (Freddie's best friend and ex-wife) said she didn't like how the other band members were depicted in the movie - "they are shown as being too nice". Regardless, to see such an iconic character come to life like that on the silver screen is definitely breathtaking.