Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Legends,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Freddie Mercury was a British singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the greatest lead singers in the history of rock music, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range.
The son of Bomi and Jer Bulsara, Freddie spent the bulk of his childhood in India where he attended St. Peter’s boarding school. He began taking piano lessons at the age of seven. No one could foresee where a love of music would take him.
The rest is rock history. EMI Records and Elektra Records signed the band and in 1973 their debut album ‘Queen’ was released and hailed as one of the most exciting developments ever in rock music.
Very soon Queen’s popularity extended beyond the shores of the UK as they charted and triumphed around Europe, Japan and the USA where in 1979 they topped the charts with Freddie’s song ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’
Through Freddie’s ability to project himself and the band’s music and image to the four corners of 70,000 seater venues they became known as the prime developers of stadium rock, a reputation perpetuated by their pioneering tactics in South America where in 1981 they performed to 231,000 fans in Sao Paulo, a world record at the time. They also became known as the key innovators of pop videos as their catalogue of 3-minute clips became more and more adventurous in style, size and content.
In the mid 80’s, Freddie started concentrating on his solo career, which was to run in tandem with Queen (“the mothership”) for several albums commencing with the 1985 release of ‘Mr. Bad Guy’. Freddie’s much loved sense of self-parody reached a zenith with his cover version of The Platter’s song ‘The Great Pretender’ in 1987, the video of which recorded him descending a sweeping staircase among acres of identical cardboard cutouts of himself.
While most publicly recognised as the front man to one of the most progressive rock bands of the 70’s, Freddie defied the stereotype. A taste for venturing into new territories – a trait that was to have a marked influence on the direction Queen would take – took Freddie to explore his interests in a wide spectrum of the arts, particularly in the areas of ballet, opera and theatre, even taking a participating role: in October1977 the sell-out audience of a charity gala at the London Coliseum organised by Royal Ballet Principal dance Wayne Eagling received the surprise of an unannounced appearance by a silver-sequinned leotard-clad Freddie performing an intricate routine choreographed for him by Eagling. In 1987 he made a one-night appearance in Dave Clarke’s Time at the Dominion Theatre, although legend has it Freddie occasionally turned up at the theatre to support friend Clarke’s musical, one night selling ice-creams in the stalls! Freddie would have loved the fact that The Dominion now plays host to the band’s phenomenally successful musical We Will Rock You which has now held the Dominion stage nearly seven years longer than Time’s two year run.
Freddie Mercury, who majored in stardom while giving new meaning to the word showmanship, left a legacy of songs, which will never lose their stature as classics to live on forever. Some of the most poignant of these were immortalised on the Queen album ‘Made In Heaven’ released in November 1995. The sleeve of the album shows a view from Freddie’s Montreux home.
September 5, 2010 saw The Mercury Phoenix Trust launch ‘Freddie For A Day’, a major annual initiative designed to celebrate Freddie’s life each year on his birthday and to support the on-going work of the Trust. The project encourages fans to dress as Freddie for a day and in doing so raise funds for MPT through sponsorship. No one could have imagined the extraordinary response which resulted, with fans from 24 countries around the world, from Argentina to Ukraine, seizing on the idea to pay their own special tribute to Freddie.
Some sent pictures strutting their stuff at home, singing into a microphone in their bedroom. Others took the plunge and spent the whole day as Freddie, including one US enthusiast who dressed herself as ‘Slightly Mad’ Freddie and then spent her day at the local mall and then at Columbus Zoo in Ohio with a penguin and a gorilla. Another took a TGV trip from France to Switzerland dressed in a harlequin leotard. The stories of extraordinary and fun days spent come in their hundreds, and as a result, Freddie For A Day is now an annual event.
A major Hollywood movie about Freddie and Queen, produced by GK Films, Robert de Niro’s Tribeca Productions and Queen Films is expected to start shooting shortly.