Planet Radio magic entertainment music The icon and legend!
The icon and legend!
Author: Anna Sky MagliolaPublished 31st Jul 2023
Music legend Freddie Mercury was the lead singer of Queen, best known for his vivacious personality, his flamboyant performances and his supreme talent. To celebrate an incredible life, career and legacy, we've uncovered 20 facts you might not have known about Freddie Mercury!
A founding member of the band since it began back in 1970, Freddie wowed audiences around the world with his awe-inspiring vocal acrobatics until his tragic death in 1991 at the age of 45-years-old. His memory and legacy have lived on in fans as well as his fellow Queen bandmates Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Now many of his possessions have gone on display at Sotheby's in London, where fans can visit for free.
1) Freddie Mercury designed the famous Queen Crest logo
It was all thanks to a degree in art and graphic design from Ealing Art College, which Freddie was studying when he met the other members of Queen!
2) He had a long-term relationship with Mary Austin in the early 70s
She became his closest friend. When he died at the age of 45 in 1991, he left her most of his money, his house, and his recording royalties.
Mary Austin and Freddie together in 1977
3) His trademark 'bottomless mic' happened by accident
Whilst performing a show early in Queen's career, his mic stand snapped mid-performance. Instead of replacing it, he carried on performing and continued to use it, even though it didn't have a bottom! This moment was recreated in the biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which told the story of how Queen got together.
4) Freddie's last appearance in front of an audience was at The BRIT Awards
Queen won the BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution in 1990, with all four members of the band coming to the stage to accept the award. This was Freddie Mercury's last appearance in front of an audience.
5) Freddie was a keen philatelist (stamp collector)
In June 2022, it was announced that one of Freddie's childhood stamp albums would be on display for the first time. The album would be available to see at London's Postal Museum from 13th July - 30th October as part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the UK Pride movement.
6) He and his family were Parsi and practiced the Zoroastrian religion
His funeral service was performed by a Zoroastrian priest.
7) Freddie Mercury wrote 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' in the bath
He was in the bath at a hotel and was inspired - even having the piano brought to his tub to allow him to compose!
8) Freddie is in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Along with the other members of Queen, Freddie was inducted in 2001.
9) He is on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time
He was listed at Number 18 in 2009.
10) He was voted Best Rock Singer of all time
Classic Rock bestowed this great honour on Freddie in 2009.
11) Statues of Freddie Mercury
A statue of Freddie Mercury was created and placed in Montreux, Switzerland. It was unveiled on 25th November 1996, and standing at over three metres high it overlooks Lake Geneva.
Queen drummer Roger Taylor admitted he has a statue of Freddie in his back garden. The music legend told the Daily Star of the huge 20-foot commemoration to his late band mate, "I have the statue of Freddie in the garden, which I love, it's great, it's very big.
"I also thought it would be very funny to have the statue there and I think Freddie would have found it hilarious. He would have found it really funny."
In 2022, it was revealed that a determined fan managed to get a statue of the music icon installed in his home town in Jeju Island, South Korea. Baek Soon-yeob emailed Queen every month for eight years to make his dream of the 1.77m statue a reality.
Freddie Mercury statue in South Korea
12) Freddie’s voice had a recording range of almost four octaves
The majority of his vocals fell into the tenor range.
13) He was very shy in real life
Despite his flamboyant persona on stage, he was very introverted and hardly ever gave interviews.
14) 'Mr. Bad Guy' was Freddie's first solo album
Released in 1985, it contained 11 songs, all written by him. It was dedicated "to my cat Jerry - also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe - screw everybody else". It debuted in the Top 10 in the UK album charts and remained in the charts for 23 weeks. Its highest position was Number 6 and it reached Gold status.
15) 'Barcelona' was Freddie’s second and final solo album
It was recorded with operatic soprano Montserrat Caballe. A special, newly recorded edition of the album, with live symphonic orchestration and percussion, was released on 3rd September 2012.
16) One of Freddie Mercury’s first major collaborations was with Dave Clark
They worked on the recording of the London West End musical Time together in 1986.
17) His favourite artists were Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix
18) Freddie Mercury received a posthumous BRIT Award
He won the Outstanding Contribution Award in 1992.
19) Before he became famous, Freddie Mercury worked as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport
In 2018, baggage handlers at the airport paid tribute to the Queen lead singer by learning a routine to 'I Want To Break Free'.
20) Brian May 'feels close' to Freddie when he performs 'Love of My Life'
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Brian said: "The one I always want to play is Freddie’s 'Love of My Life'. The way we’ve arranged it recently... It’s very strange, it’s very emotional doing it, I have to say. I’m sitting there on a stool and in the old days it would have been Freddie right beside me, while I play acoustics."
At a couple of shows, Brian has surprised audiences by performing 'Love Of My Life' with the late singer, as a video of Freddie appears on screen to sing the final verse with Brian. Speaking about it, Brian said: "It’s just a beautiful moment, I love it so much. By that time the audience have lit up all their phones and we have a moment. The crowning glory is Freddie coming on and tying the whole thing up with a great sense of humour as he always did have, which I think is the icing on the cake. And then he’s gone and that’s it."
Now find out more about Freddie Mercury...
What was Freddie Mercury's real name?
Freddie Mercury's birth name was Farrokh Bulsara. Despite some people spelling his name 'Freddy Mercury', the icon chose to spell his stage name as Freddie Mercury. He legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury around 1970, when Queen was formed.
Where was he born?
Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) on 5th September 1946. Although Freddie was born in Zanzibar he was voted number 59 in the BBC's poll of the 100 greatest Britons, it was a British protectorate until 1963, thus making him a Brit!
He spent most of his childhood in India, where he began taking piano lessons when he was aged seven. He moved to the UK with his family in 1964.
On 5th September 2022, Freddie would have been 76-years-old.
Freddie Mercury's first band
When Freddie Mercury was just 13-years-old he founded The Hectics, which used to cover well-known rock and roll songs at school events. To celebrate 61 years since the band started, some photos of The Hectics were shared on Instagram in 2020.
Freddie Mercury's teeth became a distinctive feature on the superstar throughout his career, and fans of the singer couldn't help but notice his adorable grin even dated back to his early teens! One fan commented, 'I love this! You can tell which one is Freddie from a mile away' (sic).
Did Freddie Mercury write Queen songs?
He was a prolific songwriter, penning 10 of the 17 songs on Queen's Greatest Hits album, which was released in 1981.
Bandmate Brian May was also responsible for many of Queen's biggest hits, writing tracks such as 'Flash' and 'We Will Rock You'.
Bohemian Rhapsody reaches Diamond status
Almost 46 years after its release, Queen’s timeless anthem ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was certified Diamond in the US by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The Diamond award represents 10 million or more in sales and stream equivalents in the United States.
When it happened in March 2021, Brian May said: "All those wild dreams we had — this is beyond any of them. Huge thanks to all who have believed in us over the years."
Bohemian Rhapsody has also been named the most-streamed song of the 20th century and its accompanying music video became the first pre-1990s music video to surpass one billion views on YouTube.
What was Freddie Mercury's last song?
Freddie Mercury's last song was 'Mother Love'. The song, which was written by him and Brian May, was recorded in May 1991. 'Mother Love' was later included on the Queen album 'Made in Heaven', which was released in 1995.
A sample from the live sing-along session, recorded at Queen's famous 1986 concert at Wembley Stadium, is included at the beginning of the last song Freddie Mercury recorded.
WATCH: Queen - A Kind Of Magic (Live At Wembley Stadium, Friday 11 July 1986)
When did Freddie Mercury die?
Freddie Mercury died on 24th November 1991 at his home in Kensington, London, at the age of 45. He passed away just 24 hours after a statement was issued, publicly announcing he was HIV positive.
Tributes paid to Freddie Mercury
In honour of Freddie's legacy, his bandmates, friends and fans from across the world often pay tribute to the singer, particularly on the anniversary of his death and on his birthday. We've gathered up some of the recent tributes that have been made to Freddie.
Freddie's bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor paid tribute to the star on the 29th anniversary of his death - 24th November 2020. Posting a photo of Freddie, Brian May wrote on Instagram, 'Missing you Freddie, on this day. Rest in Peace. Rock in Eternity. Bri.'
Meanwhile, Roger shared a photo of a tribute written by All On The Board, an anonymous team of Transport For London employees who pen beautiful poems for events. He wrote, 'Thank you @allontheboard. Very moved by this.'
On 24th November 2021, many stars shared touching messages on what marked the 30th anniversary of Freddie's sad death. Sharing a graphic of the Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, Switzerland, Brian wrote: 'No words from me today. Thanks Vanessa for the graphic. And thanks to all of you who have honoured dear Freddie today. Bri'.
The following year, on 24th November 2022, on the 31st anniversary of Freddie's death, the band shared a tribute to the late singer. Sharing a photo of Freddie, they simply wrote 'Freddie Mercury 🖤 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991'.
Earlier that year on 5th September 2022, on what would have been the singer's 76th birthday, Queen released a moving video celebrating the singer, it included an interview with Freddie and some clips of him performing.
Brian May also shared a tribute of his own, posting a photo of Freddie in his iconic yellow jacket, writing: 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY FREDDIE !!! Suitably in glorious 3-D by @magnoliastereos - thank you - his presence is as alive as ever - influencing everything I do - and still brining joy to people all around the world . Viva Freddie !!! Bri'.
Roger Taylor also shared a birthday message, writing: 'Happy birthday dear old friend. Here’s to you 🥂'.
How old would Freddie Mercury be today?
Freddie was born on 5th of September 1946, and if he were still alive he would be 76-years-old. Fans of the legendary musician honour him every year on his birthday with countless tributes pouring in on social media from across the world.
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness
After his passing, his friends and bandmates - Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon - organised a tribute concert to him; The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, which featured performances from the likes of Elton John, Guns N' Roses, David Bowie and George Michael among many others.
It took place at Wembley Stadium on 20th April 1992, with all 72,000 tickets selling out in just three hours. It was broadcast on TV and radio to 76 countries around the world, with an audience of around 1 billion, and is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
In April 2022, a mini series was released on YouTube for the 30th anniversary of the Freddie Mercury tribute concert. The series had clips from the concert and interviews with some of the artists who appeared including Def Leppard's Joe Elliott, and Paul Young.
Queen share 'Face It Alone' with Freddie
On 13th October 2022, Queen shared a lost track that was recorded with Freddie in 1988. The song 'Face It Alone' was created during the recording of 'The Miracle' album but was never released. His iconic vocals can be heard on the track, which was described by the band as: "Wonderful, a real discovery. It’s a very passionate piece."
Did Freddie Mercury have siblings?
Yes, Freddie has a younger sister called Kashmira Bulsara who is still alive. She lives in Nottingham and has a son, Jamal Zook.
How tall was Freddie Mercury?
When he was alive, Freddie Mercury was 5ft 9" (175.3 cm) tall.
Freddie Mercury's life in Bohemian Rhapsody
The creation of the Bohemian Rhapsody the movie was an extremely bumpy one. Way back in September 2010, Sacha Baron Cohen was originally alleged to play Freddie Mercury in the movie, but he supposedly dropped out in July 2013 citing 'creative differences' between himself and the band.
Dominic Cooper was then rumoured to play Freddie, however this never materialised and Rami Malek was cast.
Bohemian Rhapsody was released in October 2018, and in January 2019 the movie and its leading actor Rami Malek both won Golden Globes. Bohemian Rhapsody took home Best Motion Picture, with Rami winning the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture. The movie's success continued during the awards season as it also picked up gongs at the BAFTAs and Oscars.
The first trailer from the Queen biopic movie, Bohemian Rhapsody featured the band's iconic performance at Live Aid in 1985, showing the 'We Will Rock You' hand claps and Freddie’s iconic vocal improvisation.
WATCH: The official trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody
A sequel to Queen’s blockbuster biopic is being seriously discussed, according to Austrian movie producer and director, Rudi Dolezal. Rudi has worked on several Queen music videos, and told PageSix he believes the band and their management are lining up a follow-up to the movie.
Freddie's sister Kashmira has also now spoken about the possibility of a sequel saying, "I haven’t heard from the management about a sequel. Only time will tell."
Freddie Mercury: Never Boring
In 2019, to celebrate his birthday, a brand new box set entitled 'Never Boring' was released collating Freddie Mercury’s music, visuals and written and spoken words.
The collection consisted of of three CDs with 32 tracks. You can check out the full track lists here!
Scroll through to see Freddie Mercury's life in pictures:
Freddie Mercury's early years
Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town in the British protectorate of Zanzibar on 5th September 1946. Here's Freddie as a baby. His parents, Bomi (1908–2003) and Jer Bulsara (1922–2016) were from western India.
Freddie Mercury's childhood
Freddie Mercury spent much of his childhood in India and attended St. Peter's School from the age of 8. Pictured is Freddie at St Peter's in 1958.
Freddie Mercury's childhood home
In 1964, Freddie Mercury and his family fled to England from Zanzibar to escape the violence of the revolution. They lived at two properties in Feltham, Middlesex before eventually settling at 22 Gladstone Avenue. Pictured is Brian May and Freddie's sister Kashmira Cooke at the property when a blue plaque was unveiled in September 2016.
Freddie Mercury at Ealing Art College
Freddie at Ealing Art College in London in 1969. He earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design.
Freddie Mercury in 1969
Freddie Mercury in Kensington, West London in August 1969. Prior to fame he worked as a market stall trader in the now-demolished Kensington Market in London.
Freddie Mercury with band Ibex
Freddie Mercury (left) on the road in St Helens, Merseyside with the short-lived Liverpool band Ibex. When they failed to take off, he joined another band called Sour Milk Sea but by early 1970 they had split too
Freddie Mercury in early 1970s
Although famously shy, Freddie Mercury was an extrovert on stage. Here he is wearing a typically flamboyant outfit on stage in the early 1970s
Queen in 1973
Queen's Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon photoshoot in London in 1973.
Freddie Mercury in 1973
Freddie Mercury in 1973.
Freddie Mercury in rehearsals
Freddie Mercury rehearses for Queen's first major tour on 9th July 1973
Freddie Mercury in London in 1973
Freddie Mercury in London in August 1973.
Queen accept gold disc for debut album
Queen are presented with a gold disc for their eponymous debut album 'Queen' in Tokyo, 1974
Queen in 1974
Queen arrive back from their successful Australian tour in 1974.
Freddie Mercury in 1976
Freddie Mercury at Heathrow airport in January 1976 ahead of Queen's USA tour
Queen before receiving British Phonographic Institute awards
Queen in London, September 1976, to receive a British Phonographic Institute Platinum, Gold and Silver award for record sales.
Freddie Mercury at Madison Square Garden in 1997
Freddie Mercury in his imperious live prime at Madison Square Garden in January 1997.
Queen at Earls Court in 1977
Queen at Earls Court in London, June 1977.
Queen in 1978.
Queen looking cool in 1978.
Freddie Mercury in Paris in 1979
Freddie Mercury in his element, live in Paris in 1979.
Freddie Mercury in California in 1982
Freddie Mercury performing live in Oakland, California in 1982.
Freddie Mercury at Live Aid in 1985
Freddie Mercury during Queen's legendary Live Aid performance at Wembley in 1985. It's widely regarded as one of the finest concert performances of all time.
Freddie Mercury at Live Aid with Paul McCartney, Bono and David Bowie
Freddie Mercury performing with Paul McCartney, Bono, David Bowie and more at Live Aid, 1985.
Freddie Mercury in Sydney in 1985
Freddie Mercury on stage in Sydney in 1985.
Queen in 1985
Queen pose for a portrait in 1985.
Freddie Mercury and Anita Dobson in 1988
Freddie Mercury with Brian May's second wife Anita Dobson in 1988.
Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe in 1988
Freddie and Monserrat Caballe perform 'Barcelona' at Barcelona's Montjuich park, to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic flag from Seoul, October 1988
Queen in 1989
Queen pose together in smart attire in 1989.
Queen at The BRIT Awards 1990
Freddie Mercury's appearance at The BRIT Awards in February 1990 was his last public appearance.
Flowers left outside Freddie's home after his death
Fans leave flowers outside Freddie's London home on 24th November 1991 – the day of his untimely death aged 45.
Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux
The iconic Freddie Mercury statue overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreux. Standing three metres high, the Irena Sedlecka sculpture was unveiled five years after Freddie's death by Montserrat Caballé and Freddie's mother Jer.
You can hear hits from Queen on Magic.
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