Anniversary of Freddie Mercury passing away

Widely considered as one of the greatest vocalists in popular music, The late great Freddie Mercury passed away on November 24th 1991. Best known as the lead singer for the rock band Queen. He is remembered for his powerful vocal abilities and charisma as a live performer.  Mercury’s songs included elements of rockabilly, heavy metal and disco, and he wrote ten out of the seventeen songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits album, including Seven Seas Of Rhye, Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To Love, Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy, We Are The Champions, Bicycle Race, Don’t Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Play The Game

Born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town on the African island of Unguja, Mercury  attended St. Peter’s boarding school near Bombay (Mumbai) where he learned to play piano and joined his first band, The Hectics. He completed his education in India at St. Mary’s High School in Mazagon before returning to Zanzibar. Freddie came to England  in 1964  and earned a Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College & later used these skills to design the Queen crest. Freddie Mercury possessed a very distinctive voice. His recorded vocal range spanned nearly four octaves (falsetto included), with his lowest recorded note being the F below the bass clef and his highest recorded note being the D that lies nearly four octaves above. In addition to vocal range, Despite not having any vocal training Mercury often delivered technically difficult songs in a powerful manner and  Compared to many rock songwriters, many of Freddie Mercury’s songs were also musically complex. As a songwriter,Despite the fact that Mercury often wrote very intricate harmonies, he claimed that he could barely read music and wrote most of his songs on the piano, often choosing keys that were technically difficult. Mercury also possessed rudimentary skills on the guitar & wrote many lines and riffs for the instrument, including many of those heard in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He also wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” on the guitar.

In addition to his work with Queen, Mercury produced two solo albums, Mr. Bad Guy and Barcelona, The former was a pop-oriented album that emphasized disco and dance  and was heavily synthesizer-driven in a way that was uncharacteristic of previous Queen albums, While “Barcelona” was recorded with the opera singer Montserrat Caballé, whom Mercury had long admired. Sadly “Mr. Bad Guy” was not considered  a commercial success relative to most Queen albums. Although a remix of “Living On My Own”, a single from the album garnered Mercury a posthumous Ivor Novello Award. “Barcelona”, combined elements of popular music and opera. Caballé considered the album to have been one of the great successes of her career and said of Mercury, “He was not only a popular singer, he was a musician, that could sit at the piano and compose.  In September of 2006, a compilation album featuring Mercury’s solo work was released in the UK.

Mercury was diagnosed with HIV in the spring of 1987 but continued to deny that he had the disease. Despite this there were many rumours fueled by Mercury’s increasingly gaunt appearance during the last years of his life, particularly in his last appearance on film, the These Are The Days Of Our Lives promo video, which suggested serious illness. On November 23,  he  issued a statement confirming that he had been tested HIV positive and had AIDS, but I felt it correct to keep this information private to protect the privacy of those around me, and  hoped that people would join in the fight against this terrible disease. A little over 24 hours after issuing the statement, Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Mercury’s funeral was conducted by a Zoroastrian priest and he was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery. the whereabouts of his ashes are unknown, although some believe them to have been dispersed into Lake Geneva, or in his family’s possession. The remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust, and organised The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

Freddie Mercury has consistently ranked in the number one position on a list of the 100 greatest rock vocalists. In a list of the greatest English language singers of the 20th century, compiled by BBC Radio, he was the highest-ranked hard rock vocalist, . He also came in second in MTV’s list of the 22 greatest singers of the past 25 years. In 2006, Time Asia magazine voted Mercury as one of the most influential Asians in the past 60 years. The 1999 Millennium Poll, in which six hundred thousand Britons participated, he was voted into the number 14 and 15 spots as a popular musician and songwriter, respectively. Mercury ranked at No. 58 in the 2002 list of “100 Greatest Britons”, sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public. Two of Mercury’s songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are The Champions” have each been claimed, in separate polls, as the world’s favourite song, another poll of six hundred thousand people in sixty-six different countries found “We Are The Champions” to be the world’s most popular tune. This contradicts another major poll by Guinness World, which had previously found “Bohemian Rhapsody” to be the world’s most popular song of the past 50 years. He was also highly thought of by other people too, including Monserrat Caballe, Rock star David Bowie, with whom he recorded the song “Under Pressure”,  and Comedian Mike Myers, whose movie Wayne’s World introduced “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a new generation of listeners and Annie Lennox said of Mercury: “Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest” said of Mercury, “He had theatricality, he was larger than life, new, fresh, cool. This is a god that walks as man.”

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