This is our new feature B-Side Bios, a quick introduction to some of the maybe unknown facts about some of our favourite musicians. I’m kicking things off with one of my personal favourite musicians of all time - Queen’s Freddie Mercury. His story is being featured in the upcoming biopic Bohemian Rhapsody as portrayed by actor Rami Malek. The movie looks fantastic in my books and I can’t wait to see it this November.
On to Freddie. First off, he was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946, in Zanzibar, Tanzania, though legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury around 1970 when Queen was formed. He went to boarding school studying piano in India and went on to London's Ealing College of Art. He met future bandmates drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May there and would also put his art and graphic design degree to use designing the band’s logo, the Queen Crest. The crest is made up of the zodiac signs of band members, 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 and a phoenix protects the whole design.
He has one of the most iconic voices of all time. He had a recorded range of three (almost four) octaves. Just for some perspective, Mariah Carey claims five. When he spoke he was more of a baritone, but the majority of his singing fell in the tenor range.
He had a long-term girlfriend in the early 1970s named Mary Austin. Even after they broke up, they remained incredibly close. 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 to her.
Another love of his life - his cats. He loved cats and had as many as 10 at one point. He even put out a solo album dedicated to his cats called Mr. Bad Guy, including a song about his favorite cat, Delilah.
Offstage, Mercury was open about his bisexuality, but he kept his relationships private. That being said, he also lived a lavish lifestyle. He loved champagne and liked to collect art, once spending more than $400,000 on a set of hand-painted china. Always one for a party, he threw himself elaborate celebrations; for one particular birthday he flew a group of friends to the island of Ibiza where they partied with fireworks and flamenco dancing.
On November 24, 1991, at the age of 45, Freddie Mercury died from AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia at his London mansion. To honor his memory, the Freddie Mercury Tribute: Concert for AIDS Awareness was held on Easter Monday, April 1992 at Wembley Stadium for 72,000 people. The concert was also broadcast on TV and radio to 76 countries around the world with an audience of up to 1 billion. The performers included Metallica, Def Leppard, Elton John, Guns N Roses, Liza Minnelli, David Bowie, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Annie Lennox and more. To this day this event remains the largest concert held in tribute to a deceased musician.
Did ya learn something?
Short and bitter-sweet, but that’s the first B-Side Bio! Surprisingly, as a huge Queen fan, I even learned a little bit doing this research, so I hope you learned a little something too.
So pumped to share the first B-Side Bio and for a fun Pull the Plug added bonus, we’re sharing an acoustic track honouring each featured artist in a PTP Spotify playlist. The first to be added is an acoustic cover of Queen’s I Want To Break Free.
Check out the B-Side Bios Spotify playlist!