Happy Birthday Freddie

I can’t believe that the day he was born, his parents imagined the life the boy they named Farrokh Bulsara would go on to lead.

Freddie Mercury has fascinated me from the time I first heard him sing in 1973. Queen’s first single was “Keep Yourself Alive” – to which I related to for some reason.

I saw him perform three times, and each time fell just that little bit more in love with the man, the voice, the attitude.

As today would have been Freddie’s 65th birthday it seemed right to reminisce about my first love affair.

I hope you’ll join me and tell me your memories.

Taking a leaf out of another blogger’s book – oh all right – I’ll just admit to pilfering her idea. I’m trying to be a pirate so that’s allowed. I hope you’ll not only share some of those memories with me but maybe put up a video in your comment of your first/favourite song/memory of the divo that was Freddie Mercury. Why? Because I’m nosey that’s why…

Here is what I know of the man – the legend – the songbird.

He was born on the island of Zanzibar. Freddie’s parents, Bomi and Jer, were both Parsi (see Madhu’s comment below). In 1952, they gave him a sister.

When Freddie was only eight he went to a boarding school near Bombay, called St Peter’s School. He began to learn how to play the piano, was a member of the school choir, and was regularly involved in theatrical productions – no surprise there.

By the time he was twelve he had formed his first band, the Hectics. With his four friends they played at parties, fetes and school dances.

The Hectics

After Freddie completed his education at St Mary’s School in Bombay he headed back to Zanzibar. Political unrest was to send the family away, and they immigrated to England, where they initially lived with relatives.

Art began to beckon to Freddie. After studying at Isleworth Polytechnic, Freddie went on to get his Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College.

He held various jobs, selling artwork, (his own included) and clothes at Kensington Markets, another job was working at Heathrow Airport.

He played in the band Ibex which lasted almost less time than it took him to sing Bohemian Rhapsody.

His first performance with Ibex was on August 23rd, 1969. At Freddie’s instigation the band changed its name to Wreckage by October. The band broke up in 1969, but not before they had played a concert at The Sink (in Liverpool) where they played an encore with both Brian May and Roger Taylor.

An ad in Melody Maker led Freddie to his next band – Sour Milk Sea. His friendship with another band member (Chris Chesney), led to his offering Chris a place to stay at the house Freddie was sharing with members of the band Smile.

Sour Milk Sea

Chris Chesney is quoted as saying of Freddie:

“I remember Freddie being really energetic and moving around a lot at the audition, coming up and flashing the mike at me during guitar solos. He was impressive. There was an immediate vibe. He had a great vocal range. He sang falsetto; nobody else had the bottle to do that. He said ‘Do your own songs and I’ll make up my own words’ It was very clever and very good.”

Freddie’s personality is said to have led to clashes within the band, and Jeremy Gallop effectively ended their existence when he took back all his equipment.

In 1970 Freddie joined Brian May and Roger Taylor from Smile, talking them into naming the band Queen. Freddie was later quoted as saying of the name:

“Years ago I thought up the name Queen… It’s just a name, but it’s very regal, and it sounds splendid. It’s a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.”

Freddie designed the Queen crest for the newly formed band, which combined the zodiac signs of the four members.

Two lions for John Deacon and Roger Taylor, a crab for Brian May and fairies for Virgo Freddie.

Freddie and Mary Austin

It was also in 1970 that Freddie met Mary Austin with whom he lived with for seven years. He asked her out on a date for his 24th birthday, which she refused. They went out the next day instead. He often described her as the love of his life.

Mary and Freddie remained friends until his death in 1991. When Freddie died he left her his mansion (Garden Lodge) in Kensington, as well as the bulk of his estate.

She kept the house as it was.

Freddie wrote “Love of My Life’ for Mary, and in an interview once said:

“All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that’s enough for me.”

Freddie’s other long term relationship was with Jim Hutton who lived with the singer up until his death.

With Jim Hutton and Dorothy

With Queen, Freddie would record a total of 15 albums.

  • Queen(1973)
  • Queen II(1974)
  • Sheer Heart Attack(1974)
  • A Night at the Opera(1975)
  • A Day at the Races(1976)
  • News of the World(1977)
  • Jazz(1978)
  • The Game(1980)
  • Flash Gordon(1980)
  • Hot Space(1982)
  • The Works(1984)
  • A Kind of Magic(1986)
  • The Miracle(1989)
  • Innuendo(1991)
  • Made in Heaven was released in 1995 by the band and debuted at number 1 in England. It contained the last recordings Freddie made.

They also released the following albums:

  • Greatest Hits I
  • Live Magic
  • Greatest Hits II
  • Live At Wembley ‘86
  • Classic Queen
  • Queen – At the BBC
  • Queen Rocks
  • The Crown Jewels
  • Greatest Hits III
  • Stone Cold Classics
  • The Complete Works

Like I said earlier, I saw Queen three times. I wish I had seen them more.

Freddie also recorded two solo albums.

  • Mr Bad Guy
  • Barcelona

Later two more were released.

  • Freddie Mercury Solo Collection (a boxed set with 2 DVDs)
  • The Very Best of Freddie Mercury (released to coincide with Freddie’s 60th birthday)

One of my fondest memories is the Live Aid concert in 1985.

Queen took to the stage, and stole the show.

On a recent TV programme I watched, the band admitted that before they got up on stage the band’s equipment was turned up louder than any of the other acts.

When was Freddie diagnosed HIV positive?  If anyone knew they weren’t telling. I like that fact – that his friends protected him. I know that when I saw him perform in Leiden in Holland in 1986 he looked healthy.

Actually he looked fabulous – as only Freddie could. But he might have already been living with the fact that he could become sick.

There are some days where you can remember where you were, what you were doing, no matter how much time passes.

I remember the day it was announced publicly that Freddie had Aids. It was one of the worst kept secrets at that point – but I had lived in hope.

Even after seeing the clip for These Are The Days of Our Lives.

I wanted badly to believe he’d be around for more.

I also remember the following day – watching the TV in disbelief as the announcer told of his death.

I cried for his loss.

Throughout my life – Freddie has given voice to many of the emotions I did not know how to express. His songs are the most beautiful poetry, even with out the music.

Nevermore

Words and music by Freddie Mercury

There’s no living in my life anymore

The seas have gone dry

And the rain’s stopped falling

Please don’t you cry any more

Can’t you see

Listen to the breeze

Whisper to me please

Don’t send me to the path of nevermore

Even the valley’s below

Where the rays of the sun

Were so warm and tender

Now haven’t anything to grow

Can’t you see?

Why did you have to leave me? (nevermore)

Why did you deceive me? (nevermore)

You sent me to the path of nevermore

When you say you didn’t love me anymore

Ah ah nevermore nevermore

He has helped me cry through loss, through grief, through doubt. He has helped me celebrate my own championship points.

I loved to his voice, I’ve cried to his voice, and I thank the universe for the existence of him.

I’ve found some quotes of Freddie’s that for me tell you exactly who he was.

“My soul has painted like the wings of butterflies,
Fairy tales of yesterday will grow but never die,
I can fly, my friends…”

*

“I’m just a musical prostitute, my dear.”

“Oh, I was not made for heaven. No, I don’t want to go to heaven. Hell is much better. Think of all the interesting people you’re going to meet down there!”

*

“I always knew I was a star, and now the rest of the world seems to agree with me.”

“I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.”

*

“Does it mean this, does it mean that, that’s all anybody wants to know. I’d say what any decent poet would say if anyone dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it’s there!”

“The reason we’re successful, darling? My overall charisma, of course”

*

“I dress to kill, but tastefully.”

*

“When I’m dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance.”

“We’ve gone overboard on every Queen album. But that’s Queen.”

Freddie’s vest had pictures of his cats on it.

“I’m as gay as a daffodil, my dear!”

Freddie was a lover of pussies – hehehe

Here are a few shots of Freddie with some more of his beloved cats…

With Delilah and Miko
With Tiffany
With Romeo
With Miko
Oscar and Tiffany
Delilah
Goliath
Lily
An unknown cat with Freddie

So – this is my favourite piece of Freddie – well my favourite among many favourites.

Happy 65th Freddie – I hope it was a good one !!!!!!!!!!!!

This 3 metre statue of Freddie overlooks Lake Geneva in Montreux.

For more Freddie: Divo – Freddie Mercury, My Fairy King.

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Author: Jo Bryant

I was born in the land of Banjo Paterson, gum trees, and weather extremes. I am a freelance writer. I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, but still like to claim my Australian heritage. I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications in 2008. I am writing my first novel. I love to write poetry, short stories, and also write for the web. And there is nothing that is on a par with a sunny summer's day spent at Waihi Beach.

45 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Freddie”

  1. This is a great post, Jo. I really enjoyed reading it and learnt some things I didn’t know. He was much-loved. I watched a documentary which featured him towards the end of his life; it was very sad to see.

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    1. It was so sad to see him toward the end. What was the name of the documentary you watched? Do you remember? I recently watched a BBC Film documentary called Days of Our Lives and it was so fascinating. It got me thinking about him, and Queen. There was so much they did that no-one had ever done before. Well – I guess you can see I am a fan – hehe 🙂

      Like

  2. Jo. you did a wonderful tribute for a very talented man. There were so many of his songs that touched my life. When my son was very young, he liked We Will Rock You.

    (don’t know if that is the name of the song) Bohemian Rhapsody was a favorite of mine.

    Wonderful post.

    Like

    1. I remember when Bohemian Rhapsody hit the charts in Australia – I was like – I told you so people. Queen had been in Australia for the 1974 Sudbury Rock Festival, and were booed off the stage. They were so different and all that satin and those frills were considered too ponsy for the aussie crowd. He told the crowd “When we come back to Australia, Queen will be the biggest band in the world” And once B.R came out it was sooooooooo true..

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  3. A beautiful tribute to a legend. He’s a talented performer whose music will always touch the lives of those who listens to them. Wonderful pictures. I learned so much about the great man today because of your post. Thanks for sharing. You made him smile today with the post you made wherever he may be.

    Like

  4. This is a fantastic tribute to Freddie! I can’t say that I have a single favorite though, I loved ALL of Queen’s songs. Surprisingly, when my own children grew into their teen years, they found my Queen tapes, cranked up the volume on my stereo and loved it! Good taste runs in my family! 😉

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    1. That is so true. My kids love Queen as well. Actually my daughter and her friends rather like my collection of music – The Police, Cat Stevens, The Stones. All the OLD groups as they tell me. It makes me laugh at times when there is a song on the radio or CD and they look surprised when I can sing along (heck they hate my singing anyways), but we always end up arguing the point over the original singers of it. LOL 🙂

      Like

  5. This is a cool post! I did’nt know he liked cats. 🙂 The top picture is smashing and the baby underneath, What a cutey. I was a bit young but I can contribute. I must have watched this movie 12 times, knew it word for word, and owned the soundrtack. The music done entirely by queen, was a big reason the movie was so popular with me. Here’s some lyrics:

    Just a man.
    With a mans courage.
    Nothing but a man,
    who can never fail.
    No one but the pure in heart,
    Can find the goldern grail.

    I hope it embeds.

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    1. It was a great soundtrack to the movie – I like this clip a lot – thanks for finding it dear Sara. Yep, Freddie loved his pussies that for sure. Interesting story about Goliath – he got him when he got Delilah. Goliath was already showing signs he was a big boy, but Freddie refused to name him Samson. Hence ‘Goliath’. Just another bit of trivia on this wonderfully colourful individual. 🙂

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  6. Congrats on such a brilliant blog post Jo, very informative. He was an absolute legend and hugely talented and one of few (famous) people who I cried about when he passed away. I also like Brian May, he’s such a cool guy! Fantastic tribute Jo. I love charismatic people and he had it oozing out of him.

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    1. He sure did. I cried when I heard he had AIDS, and I cried when I heard of his death. But – I have to confess that I was head over heels for Roger Taylor. He wrote this song of theirs.

      He had my blood pumping with every drum stroke…

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  7. What a great post! I learned some things I didn’t know, it’s very interesting.
    I love Freddie and Queen! The first song I loved was Living On My Own, I ‘discovered’ it last year and it was so impressive!
    I’m only 15 years old so I never had the chance to see Freddie live, but since I know Queen, I try to get to a concert of Brian May and Roger Taylor. Sadly my parents don’t support me, they say this music is too old for me.

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    1. Hi Alena,
      Queen’s music is never too old for anyone…don’t let your parents convince you otherwise. When you are older you will be able to see them as I don’t see them stopping anytime soon. Listen to some of their earlier stuff, it is really great. Freddie’s lyrical ability was amazing.

      Like

  8. Hey, thank you for the wonderfull tribute!!! You are so lucky to have seen Queen live!!!Freddie is a genius(Lennon is a genius Hehe what a good song)! I love so many Queen songs,but sadly I am too young and I haven’t lived in the Queen era!!! Anyway I am happy to found out about Queen even recently(I think about a year ago) because Brian and Roger are still alive and are continuing to show the world the best music that ever was and ever will be!!!( I respect Deacon decision)!!! I hope that I will see them live someday. A Freddie Mercury hologram concert would be better than concerts with Lambert!!! But I disagree with you, Queen is Brian May,Freddie Mercury,Roger Taylor and John Deacon, not just Freddie!!!Anyway the song that makes me the most happy is probably

    and the last vocal performance of Freddie is very good and very sad( a little underrated) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLDsd6lUiR8
    Queen my favourite band(or artist) forever!!!!!!!

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  9. Reblogged this on Chronicles of Illusions and commented:

    I guess this is kind of cheating in a way. Reblogging your own post I mean. But as today is Freddie’s 66th birthday I want to remind you all what a great man he was. And just how much he gave the world with his music and his presence. So for those of you who last year did not see this small tribute of mine to someone who touched my soul with his poetry and his voice…I hope you’ll read further. Happy Birthday Freddie…I miss you.

    Like

    1. Thanks Gemma…he sure was. I cried the day he died. I felt like I had lost s friend…weird I know, but his music seemed to make him feel like that to me. And the thought that I would never again see him on stage. he was something else up there – live and living to the full.

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  10. Thank you for this wonderful tribute Jo! I am a huge fan too. Some pictures there that i have never seen.
    A minor correction though – Freddie was a ‘Parsi’ and not ‘Persian’. Although technically from Persia, Parsis are descendants of the original settlers in Gujarat in India who follow the Zoroastrian religion. Their surnames are all Indian (Gujarati mainly)

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        1. I have always wanted to ask. I did look up “Madhu’ on Google for its meaning , as I find it a truly beautiful word. There are a few different meanings depending on which culture it is attached to. So my question is: What does Madhu mean in your case ?

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          1. Thanks 🙂 It also means ‘intoxicant’, but my full name stands for ‘sweet as honey’.
            And I was named after a movie of the same name, whose leading lady my dad adored!!!!

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          2. My daughter got her name because of a movie. Her dad and I had a couple picked out. Then he saw the movie The Man From Snowy River:

            [better watch it on you tube…it is too small on here]

            And said: “Done.”

            So she was named after the female lead character.

            Which comes from a very famous and beautiful Australian poem. I did a post on it here:
            The Man from Snowy River
            And there is a video with the poem being read out …the only truly right way to learn about THIS poem for the first time.

            Like

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