Today marks 20 years since the passing of one of the greatest frontmen in rock history: Freddie Mercury of Queen.
Born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946 in Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa, Mercury was always a keen musician. His family eventually made its way to the UK and in the late 1960s he formed a band with guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and eventually bassist John Deacon.
The band name was the only one which could match the camp, extravagant, regal air of its talismanic frontman and Queen was born. With tracks such as â€œI Want To Break Free,â€ â€œKiller Queen,â€ â€œWe Will Rock You,â€ and â€œFlashâ€ the four-piece became one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world. In 1981 they set a world record for attendance as they played to 231,000 people in Sao Paolo and their performance, especially that of Mercury, at Wembley stadium stole the show at the 1985 Live Aid concerts.
Mercury was as famous for his music as he was infamous for his lifestyle away from the stage. His wild parties complete with tales of dwarf cocaine waiters and naked waitresses are still legendary among those privileged enough to attend and sober enough to remember.
The 1980s also saw the rise of a devastating human disease. Mercury contracted the AIDS virus, a fact which he tried â€“ and failed â€“ to keep from the public. After much press rumour, Mercury confirmed to the world that he was ill. The next day, November 24, 1991 Freddie Mercury passed away due to pneumonia brought on by AIDS.
Freddie Mercury left a vast and enviable catalogue of music. Queen released 14 studio albums during Mercuryâ€™s life including Sheer Heart Attack, News Of The World, Flash Gordon and finally Innuendo (Made In Heaven was released posthumously) and a number of thrilling live albums. The quality of songs may differ but the singing is always a sound to behold. Because of his outstanding voice and unequalled stage presence, Freddie Mercury will never be forgotten.