To Never Bite The Dust: Remembering Queen's Lead Vocalist Freddie Mercury On His 72nd Birthday
September 5th is the birthday of the late Farrokh Bulsara. Farrokh passed away in 1991 at the age of 45 due to complications from AIDS.
As frontman for one of the most influential rock bands of all time (formed in 1970 with Brian May), it's great to see how through the decades and up to today, his music and that of Queen's continues to figure in the soundtrack of our lives. Whether as a nostalgic rush, or as one of those vintage tunes the kids of today gravitate to, his music lives on, destined to never bite the dust. Yes, at some point in his twenties, Farrokh changed his name to Freddie Mercury.
Born in Zanzibar (now Tanzania) in 1946 to Parsi parents, Freddie grew up in Zanzibar, India, then Middlesex England. Just my personal observation, but thanks to fortuitous circumstances such as "Bohemian Rhapsody" being memorably used in the soundtrack of Wayne’s World, and how songs like "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You" are staple singalongs in stadiums, music halls, and auditoriums all over the world, the music of Queen lives on like no other band’s musical output has. Throw in songs like "Another One Bites the Dust," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "Under Pressure," "I Want to Break Free," "Radio Ga Ga," and "Killer Queen," and you’ll appreciate how oftentimes, their songs are immediately recognizable, even if we didn’t know they were a Queen song, composed by Mercury and May.
In possession of a unique four octave vocal range, Freddy was a natural baritone, but sang most of their hits as a tenor. He was such an influence that so many of today’s big artists are proud to acknowledge the debt they owe to Freddy and Queen.
Lady Gaga pays the ultimate tribute by saying her own name came from how much she loved "Radio Ga Ga," while Katy Perry calls Freddie "my biggest influence. The combination of his sarcastic approach to writing lyrics and his I Don’t Give a F_ _ _ attitude really inspired my music."
Throughout their musical career, the band defied pigeon-holing. They’d play rock & roll, ballads, pop, glam rock, flirt with opera and jazz. Their level of performance, their skill, their professionalism, are all legendary; and they played the music they wanted to play.
Come end-October, we get to relive some of those moments, from the band’s rise to how some of their biggest hits were composed, to the sad decline of Freddie’s health in the 90s. That’s when the film Bohemian Rhapsody hits the screen; with Egyptian-American Rami Malek (of Mr. Robot fame) taking on the role of Freddie. It promises to be a film we’ve all been waiting for—where great music, unbridled flamboyance, unbelievable talent, and Attitude with a capital A all come together in the person of one mercurial Freddie Mercury.
Happy birthday, Freddie!
Photos from Freddie Mercury's official Facebook page