Thursday, December 01, 2005

A tribute to Farookh Bulsara better known as Freddy Mercury

It is fourteen years since Freddy Mercury, musician par excellence, died, of complications caused by AIDS on the 24th of November 1991.

He was born on the 5th of September 1946 to Parsi (Zoroastrian) parents in Zanizibar, an archipelago of islets in the Indian ocean, some 25 miles from the coast of Tanzania.

Educated at St Peter's boarding school in Panchgani (near Bombay) where he studied piano and singing as part of the curriculum and earned the nickname Freddie. His talent manifested itself early and he formed a band in school called the Hectics.

He returned to Zanizibar in 1962 when he was 18 but the family fled to England following a revolution there in 1964.

In England, Freddie lived a bohemian life, while perusing his interest in art. While studying graphic design and art at Ealing College, a chance encounter with Roger Taylor and Brian May rekindled his interest in music

Leaving Ealing College in 1969 he moved into Roger Taylor's flat and set up a stall in the Kensington market selling artwork by himself and fellow students, and later second hand clothes.

But from then on, it was the music that drew him. First joining a band called Ibex, he then left with the drummer to form Wreckage, later moving to Sour Milk Sea before finally forming what was to become Queen in 1971.

Mr Mercury's graphic design skills were employed in the logo based on the birth signs of the members: two fairies for Freddie (Virgin), two lions for Roger and John (Leo) and a crab for Brian (Cancer). He also took the stage name Mercury, after the winged messenger of the gods of Roman mythology.

Like all great musicians Mr Mercury had the ability to absorb and blend many influences while retaining his own voice. Few are aware of his love of opera and of the voice of Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé for whom he wrote a number of songs including Barcelona. Some of his more dramatic songs owe a debt to grand opera, Donizetti in particular. Indeed the resemblance between the high theatrics of opera and some of his more flamboyant stage shows is difficult to miss. He performed with the Royal Ballet in 1979.

Like all good artists his work was drawn from personal experience and his songs The Show Must Go On, I’m Going Slightly Mad and his remake of the Platters song The Great Pretender all testify to his deteriorating health, although this fact was carefully hidden from his fans. When asked what his music meant he replied, ‘I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it's there’.

In a world increasingly dominated by synthetic music, manufactured to formulae, tested on focus groups and performed by glamour bands his highly individual voice is sorely missed.


sittingnut said...

nice post. freddy mercury was one of a kind.

ashanthi said...

yep - there is an amazing doco on him which cable re-runs from time to time ... he was a genius

pissu perera said...

was clicking around kottu and came across this. i love freddie mercury too.. i remember the first day i found out he had died after i discovered his music. i was depressed for a day. i listen to queen non stop when exams draw closer..RIP freddie mercury