The Journey of Freddie Mercury


Photo used with permission from Creative Commons

Freddie Mercury passionately sings at a Queen concert.

Written by Emma Tetreault

After the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” aired in theaters November of 2018 a new generation of fans was created towards the band “Queen.” The movie was nominated for multiple Oscars that included “Best Actor” for Rami Malek, “Best Sound Mixing,” “Best Film Editing,” “Best Sound Editing,” and finally “Best Picture.” The film crew collected four out of the five Oscars for the immaculate representation of Queen’s journey, but especially focusing on the man himself, Freddie Mercury.

Born on September 5, 1946, a legend was given the name Farrokh Bulsara, but more commonly known as Freddie Mercury. Little did his parents know, their child would soon become one of the most memorable singer-songwriters in history. Mercury’s life started off in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a country located in Africa where many civilians lived below the World Bank poverty line. Mercury spent the majority of his life in India where he discovered most of his musical talents, starting with learning to play piano at age seven and later joining a school band at twelve. Growing up, he was given the nickname “Bucky” because he was born with four extra teeth which gave him his unique appearance. Mercury refused to get them removed as he felt that they contributed to his unforgettable voice.

In the early 1960’s, Mercury moved to London to attend the Ealing College of Art alongside other future rock performers, such as Ronnie Wood and Pete Townshend. Following his final year of college, he came across a band called Ibex, and that’s where it all began. The new group consisted of Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor, and they would later recruit John Deacon, the bassist, in 1971. They carried the infamous name of ‘Queen,’ with Mercury writing many of their top hits, such as their first song, “Killer Queen.”

For four years they did small performances in the back of bars, until their music became #1 in the U.S., starting their first 22-date tour in 1974. After their tour ended, the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” was written by Mercury and Bruce Gowers directed the music video. The six-minute song was expected to never air the radio due to its length, but ended up being a #1 hit in the UK and top 10 in America, just nineteen days after the release. The band continued to release albums and go on tour, adding up to a total of over 700 performances by Queen.

After many years of success, Mercury was given a large decision to make, and with the wrong choice, could ruin the careers of his bandmates. He had been offered a $4,000,000 record deal to go solo, and his spontaneity persuaded him to accept. “Mr. Bad Guy” was the title of his only album while on the solo break, released to the public on April 29, 1985. Not long after, Mercury was informed about the option of performing at Live Aid, one of the most impactful concerts of their time. He returned to Queen, knowing he couldn’t take this opportunity alone, and was quick to getting right back to making music with his second family.

Being one of the biggest concerts, the group was full of hysteria and thrill just at the thought of it. This was a huge milestone for them since there would be over 170,000 people in the audience, and be televised to 110 countries around the world. Just before the big day, Mercury told Brian, Roger, and John some heartbreaking news that would soon change the future of the band. He revealed to them that he had been diagnosed with AIDs, but he refused to see them worrisome, so he declared that the show must go on.

On November 23, 1991, Mercury announced to the public, “I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV-positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.” The following day, the legend had died, leaving many people in disbelief.

Brian May and Roger Taylor were the only surviving band members, and remembered Freddie’s infamous words of “the show must go on,” so they continued to perform. To this day, Queen still carries on putting on shows alongside Adam Lambert, the new lead singer. One of their most recent performances was at the 2019 Oscars, where they opened the award show with a heartwarming tribute to Freddie. His flamboyant and exotic presence still lives on through their music, and he will forever be known as Freddie Mercury, the man who revolutionized the idea of music.