On the small quiet island of Zanzibar on the 5th of September 1946, Farrokh Bulsara was born to Bomi and Jer Bulsara. The Bulsaras were an Indian Persian family Living in Zanzibar, Africa. Farrokh’s father worked as a High Court cashier for the British Government. He had a sister, Kashmira, six years younger to him. In 1954, when he was eight years old, he was sent to St. Peters English Boarding School in Panchgani, India to study. He spent 8 years in St. Peters. Here he was called Freddie by his friends which soon caught on to his his family. During these 8 years, he excelled in sports. He became the schools table tennis champion by the time he was 10. In two years time he won the schools trophy for the Junior All-rounder. He fell in love with art during this time and was always sketching for friends and relatives. One other trait of his during this time was his love for music. He had brought the familys old record player along with him and would stack records to play constantly while he sang along. The music he had at the time was mostly Indian but a little western music was also available to him. He enjoyed both kinds of music equally. The headmaster of St. Peters noticed his talent in music and suggested that he be given proper music training. They consented and sent the extra fees. He soon started piano classes. He started singing in the school choir and also took part in the plays which the school put up. He loved playing the piano. He put a lot of hard work into his piano lessons and passed Grade IV-both practical and theory. In 1958, he formed the school rock’n roll band with four of his friends. They called themselves The Hectics. They played at all the schools functions. Freddie played the piano in the band. In 1962, Freddie passed out of St. Peters and went back home to Zanzibar.
In 1964, political unrest in Zanzibar drove out many British and Indian residents including the Bulsaras whom migrated to England. They stayed with their relatives in Feltham, Middlesex until they were able to find a small place for them selves. Now Freddie decided that he wanted to go art college for which he needed an A level for which reason he enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic. During his vacations, he got odd jobs which included working at Heathrow Airport in the catering department and working at Feltham trading Estate. His co-workers at Feltham Trading Estate commented that his delicate hands were not suited for this kind of work and asked him what he was doing. He told them that he was a musician “filling in time”. He achieved his Art A Level and got accepted in Ealing College of Art to do a graphic illustrating course in 1966.
In 1967, Jimi Hendrix exploded on the scene. Freddie became a die-hard fan of Jimi Hendrix. He would sketch pictures of him and hang them all over the flat that he lived in where Freddie moved to from his family home in Feltham. Freddie became friends with a student, Tim Staffell who played base for a band called Smile. Tim took him along to rehearsals as they got closer to each other. He got along well with drummer Roger Taylor and Guitarist Brian May. He liked the sound that Smile produced and also had great admiration and respect for Brian Mays guitaring. Inspired by Smile, He started to experiment with music. He began practice with Tim, Nigel Foster and his flat mate Chris Smith.
In 1969, he left Ealing College with a diploma in graphic art and design. He moved into Roger Taylors flat and opened a stall with him at Kensington Market selling his own artwork, artwork of other students and any new and secondhand clothes he could lay his hands on. He met a band called Ibex later that year. They had come to London to make a name for themselves and he was introduced to them. After he saw them play he was so enthusiastic that he learnt their set in 10 days and joined them on a gig-his debut public performance. They didn’t last too long. By the end of the 60’s, they broke up-each member going their separate way.
Freddie was now on the look out for another band. He auditioned for a band named Sour Milk Sea. They chose him not only for his voice but also for his showmanship. “He knew how to front a show,” – Ken Testi recalls. In late 1969 Freddie became the lead singer with Sour Milk Sea. The other members of the band were Chris Chesney on vocals and guitar, bass player Paul Milan, Jeremy ‘Rubber’ Gallop on rhythm guitar and Rob Tyrell on drums. They did a few rehearsals, and then a few gigs in Oxford. Freddie and Chris Chesney became close friends. The other members of Sour Milk Sea felt that their close relationship was detrimental to the band and put it future at stake. Jeremy who owned the bands equipment decided to take it all back and break up band. After only two months, Sour Milk Sea.
In 1970, Tim Staffell decided to leave Smile and Freddie joined as its lead singer. He changed the name of the band to Queen and he changed his last name to Freddie Mercury. In the same year, he met Mary Austin. They lived together for seven years and remained good friends till he died. In 1971, John Deacon joined the band and the rest is history.
Queen had their first single in ” The Seven Seas of Rhye”, their first big hit in “Killer Queen” and their most famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody” stayed on the top of the charts for 9 weeks. In 1975, Queen toured Japan. On the 7th of October 1979, he performed with the Royal Ballet to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Crazy little thing called love”. He performed to receive a standing ovation. In 1980, he changed his image. He cut his hair and grew a moustache. His fans then sent him gifts of nail polish and razor blades. At the end of ’82, Queen decided to take a break from each other and stopped touring for sometime. During this time, he co wrote with Georgio Moroder a track called “Love Kills” for the re-release of the film Metropolis. It was his first solo single. On the 9th of April 1985, He released the first single from his first solo album “I was born to love you”. The album Mr. Bad Guy was released three weeks later. On the 13th of July 1985, Queen gave their most memorable performance for the Live Aid Concert. That performance secured Queens place in history. Freddie Mercury went onto another solo release, a cover of the Platters song “The Great Pretender”. In 1987, he flew to Barcelona to meet Montserrat CaballÃ?Â© whom he saw perform at The Royal Opera House in 1983. He was mesmerized by her voice then. He gave her a cassette of some of his songs. She loved them and they both agreed to record together. At the end of May the island of Ibiza staged a huge festival at the outrageous Ku Club. Freddie agreed to be a guest of honour and closed the event with Montserrat CaballÃ?Â© singing the song he had written for her and her home city “Barcelona”. Freddy and her then appeared together at the La Nit festival where they performed three tracks that their collaborative album, Barcelona on the 8th of October 1988.That was his last onstage performance. He was ill with AIDS at the time. Despite that he continued recording, composing and even made videos. He announced that he was ill with Aids on the day before he died-November 24th 1991- due to AIDS related bronchial pneumonia.
On April 20th, 1992 a tribute concert in Freddie Mercury’s memory was held at Wembley Stadium and many famous rock stars took part in it. The best tribute to Freddie was the album Made In Heaven, released on November 6th, 1995 by the three remaining members of Queen containing the last songs that Freddie Mercury had composed and recorded. It was a fitting tribute to Freddie Mercury, one of those musicians whom nobody will ever be able to replace.
“The first time I heard Freddie sing I was amazed. He had a huge voice. Although his piano style was very affected, very Mozart, he had a great touch. From a piano player’s point of view, his approach was unique.” Chris Smith
“I’m so powerful on stage that I seem to have created a monster. When I’m performing I’m an extrovert, yet inside I’m a completely different man.” “The concept of Queen is to be regal and majestic. Glamour is part of us, and we want to be dandy.” “I thought we would be huge – and we were.” “I like people to go away from a Queen show feeling fully entertained. I think Queen songs are pure escapism, like going to see a good film.” “I’m just a musical prostitute, my dear!” “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can damn well give it!” “I never carry money, just like the real Queen. If I fancy something in a shop I always ask someone on our staff to buy it.” “We’re gonna stay together until we *#&%*!$ die, I’m sure we will.” – Freddie Mercury.