by - November 24, 2008 - 3:24 PM
It was on this day in 1991 that Freddie Mercury passed away. I’m a fan, so I thought I’d pay a little tribute to him in our Q10 today. I was born a little too late, but I would have loved to see Queen in concert. They sound like they were amazing. If any of you have first-hand concert experience, let me live vicariously through you – share it in the comments!
1. He designed the Queen emblem (AKA the Queen Crest) himself, thanks
to a degree in art and graphic design from Ealing Art College. The
crest is made of the zodiac signs of the whole band – two Leo lions for
John Deacon and Roger Taylor, a Cancer crab for Brian May and two
fairies to represent Freddie’s Virgo sign. The “Q” and the crown
represent the band name, of course, and a phoenix protects the whole
2. His birth name was Farrokh Bulsara; he started going by Freddie when he was at St. Peter’s, a boarding school for boys near Mumbai. He legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury around 1970, when Queen was formed.
3. He and family (parents and one sister, Kashmira) were Parsis and practiced Zoroastrian religion. Even though he hadn’t practiced in years, his funeral was performed by a Zoroastrian priest.
4. Freddie was born in Zanzibar – his family moved there so his dad could continue his career at the British Colonial Office.
5. Freddie had a recorded range of three (almost four) octaves. Mariah Carey claims five, for some perspective. When he spoke he was more of a baritone, but majority of his singing fell in the tenor range.
6. He had a long-term girlfriend in the early 70s named Mary Austin. Even after they broke up, they remained incredibly close. He gave an interview in 1985 and said that she was his only friend and he didn’t want any other friends. He wrote “Love of My Life” about her and was the godfather of her first son. When he died, he left her most of his money, his house, and his recording royalties.
7. Although he was obviously very flamboyant on stage, most people who knew him intimately said he was very shy in his personal life – one of the reasons he very rarely granted interviews.
8. Freddie and his manager issued a statement confirming that he had AIDS the very day before he died. It had been widely speculated for a couple of years due to his gaunt appearance and Queen’s sudden lack of touring. Some people were very upset by this delayed statement, saying that an earlier announcement could have raised a vast amount of money for the cause.
9. He loved cats and had as many as 10 at one point. He even had an album and a song dedicated to his cats (Mr. Bad Guy). He wrote a song about his favorite cat, Delilah. Here’s a bit of it:
Delilah, Delilah, oh my, oh my, oh my – you’re irresistible
You make me smile when I’m just about to cry
You bring me hope, you make me laugh – you like it
You get away with murder, so innocent
But when you throw a moody you’re all claws and you bite -
That’s alright !
Delilah, Delilah, oh my, oh my, oh my – you’re unpredictable
You make me so very happy
When you cuddle up and go to sleep beside me
And then you make me slightly mad
When you pee all over my Chippendale Suite
10. The “bottomless mic” was among Freddie’s many trademarks. Here’s how that happened: early in Queen’s career, he was apparently mid-show when his mic stand snapped in half. Instead of having it replaced, Freddie just used it as-is. He must have liked it, because he used the mic “stick” from then on.