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Sunday, September 05, 2010
Freddie Mercury born 5 September 1946 (d. 1991)
Freddie Mercury was the king of Queen. I first heard Queen in 1973 when the debut single Seven Seas of Rhye was released. I knew they were something different as soon as I heard them. I bought and loved Killer Queen and Now I'm Here when they were released and of course Bohemian Rhapsody is now musical history.
Queen were the group that made me grow up musically. I loved them. I instinctively understood their music and I adored and played to death their early albums - Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night At the Opera, A Day At the Races, News of the World, Jazz - eagerly bought as soon as they came out when I was at school.
With the 1980s, their music lost much of its magic, power and mystery for me. They were the biggest band in the world, and I still liked them but I no longer loved them with a passion and even stopped buying their records, although with The Miracle and Innuendo, they seemed to be returning to form.
But one Sunday morning in November 1991, Freddie Mercury was on the front of the Sunday papers - he had issued a press statement confirming that he had AIDS. Suddenly there was a reason for their lack of touring, for his frail and gaunt appearance, the heavy make-up he appeared to wear in videos. I was very upset by this news but worse was to come. The following day, I woke up to the news that Freddie was dead. Like many others, I was devastated and remained so for days. Freddie's death still has the power to touch me even now. Documentaries about Freddie and Queen can still prompt tears. Queen made some dreadful records, especially later, and did some terribly naff things - I particularly wish now that Brian and Roger would stop - but when they were good, they were unbelievably good and genuinely changed the face of rock music.
Freddie Mercury was one of the most technically accomplished singers ever to perform in popular music, making Queen's songs notoriously difficult to cover well. Freddie also wrote some of the most wonderful music I have ever heard and I will always treasure my love of early-Queen. Side two of Queen II still gives me the shivers, Bohemian Rhapsody can still get me when I'm in the right mood.
Incredibly, had he lived. Freddie Mercury would now have been in his sixties. I can't imagine that because my Freddie is as he is pictured above - so beautiful, exotic and amazing.