Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen

Trista - December 20, 2018

Queen was one of the most iconic bands of the 1970s and 1980s, largely due to the vocal talents and extravagant stage presence of the lead singer, Freddie Mercury. He sang with the group for 21 years; after his death from AIDS, the music world has not been the same. Keep reading to learn more about this legendary band.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
PRS for Music heritage award commemorating Queen’s first performance, Prince Consort Road, London. Spudgun67/Wikimedia Commons.

30. The Band Queen Formed in London in the Year 1970

The original members were Brian May on lead guitar, Roger Taylor doing vocals and drums, John Deacon on bass guitar, and Freddie Mercury as the lead singer. They practiced incessantly until they found themselves at the top of record charts worldwide.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen guitar (right, next to a Rolling Stones guitar) at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, marking a 31 October 1970 Queen concert at the venue. NH53/Wikimedia Commons.

29. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Inspired Queen’s Original Music

However, they came to define their own style that adopted elements of pop rock and arena rock. The result was both radio-friendly and raw. It came to describe rock music of the 1970s and 1980s and helped set Queen apart as one of the most successful bands of all time.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Smile band, from left to right: Brian May, Tim Staffel, Roger Taylor. Wikipedia.

28. Some of the Members Originally Performed Together in Another Band

Brian May and Roger Taylor performed in a rock band called “Smile,” and Tim Staffel was the lead guitar player. Freddie Mercury was a huge fan. He encouraged the group to experiment with creative recording techniques and a more elaborate stage presence.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury performing at New Haven Coliseum in New Haven, CT, in 1977. Carl Lender/Wikimedia Commons.

27. Freddie Mercury Was the Original Lead Singer for Queen

However, you might say that he actually joined the group Smile. He became the lead singer – the group only had guitarists and a drummer. Smile officially disbanded in 1970, but Freddie, Brian, and Roger remained together. John Deacon joined them.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury with his mother Jer Bulsara in Zanzibar during his early years. Daily Mail.

26. Freddie Mercury’s Birth Name Was Farokh Bulsara

He was born in Zanzibar in 1946. His parents had moved there from India so that his father could maintain his job within the British Empire. They were Parsis, meaning that they were of Iranian descent and their ancestors had fled to India during the Arab conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Mercury as a young child in one of the pics included in the new Queen box set. Daily Mail.

25. Freddie Mercury Came From a Family of Zoroastrians

Parsis were historically Zoroastrians, followers of what is possibly the world’s oldest monotheistic faith. Zoroaster, aka Zarathustra, was the prophet of Zoroastrianism and lived in Iran at an unknown time but centuries before the birth of Christ. The word “star” comes from “Zoroaster;” unsurprisingly, the religion relies heavily on astrology.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
The house where Freddie Mercury was born — in Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Zanzibar Archipelago. Moongateclimber/Wikimedia Commons.

24. He Grew Up in Zanzibar and India

Though born in Zanzibar, at the time part of the British Empire, he was sent to study at St. Peter’s boarding school, a British-style school, near Bombay, India. There, he took piano lessons and formed a band with some of his peers. As a teenager, he returned to his family’s home in Zanzibar.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury as a child with his prominent teeth. Daily Mail.

23. His Family Fled Violence in Zanzibar and Settled in London

The Zanzibar Revolution was a populist uprising in 1964 in which African nationalists overthrew the Sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government. To escape the violence, the Bulsaras fled to England and settled down in Feltham, an area that is now part of London.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury’s vocal range (F2-F6, with falsetto). Angelus/Wikimedia Commons.

22. Freddie Became Known For His Wide Vocal Range

He could proficiently play the piano and had an innate sense of rhythm and tempo. His claim to fame, though, was his voice. He could sing across four octaves, going from low bass to a high tenor in just a few bars. He has been consistently lauded as the best rock vocalist of all time.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
The members of Queen. Alamy Stock Photo/Wikimedia Commons.

21. Mercury Named the Band “Queen”

When Freddie joined Smile, or the band disbanded and rebanded, he decided on the name “Queen,” which ultimately stuck. It was one syllable, catchy, and aesthetically pleasing to the ears. He thought the name was “splendid.” Today, the name is iconic with the lead singer himself.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
A group picture of Queen. Soundscape Magazine.

20. The Band Began Performing by Playing Gigs at London’s Imperial College

Brian May had been a student at Imperial College when he formed Smile. During Queen’s early days, the band went through numerous bass players while trying to get a record deal. No companies were interested, so they mostly played gigs at May’s alma mater.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
The British rock band Queen. Fan Pop.

19. Queen Signed a Record Deal in 1973 with Trident

The music producer John Anthony heard them in 1972 and wanted to enter into negotiations. Queen was able to use the same equipment that had been used by Elton John and the Beatles, so they signed a deal the next year. The band members then began compiling their first title, which would be eponymously titled “Queen.”

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
A photograph of a young Freddie Mercury. CNN.

18. Freddie Legally Changed His Last Name to Mercury

He had long adopted the name “Freddie,” which was more British-sounding than Farokh. He chose the last name “Mercury” from a line in the song “My Fair King,” which says, “Mother Mercury, look what they’ve done to me.” “My Fairy King” was one of many Queen songs that talked about the fantastical land of Rhye, which Mercury had invented.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
The classic Queen crest, a logo Freddie created. Bigang171.

17. Freddie Designed the Queen Logo

It uses the astrological signs of the band’s four original members – not surprising since he has Zoroastrian roots. Roger Taylor and John Deacon were both Leos, so he used two lions. The Cancer crab was for Brian May, and the two Virgo fairies were for Freddie.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury being fabulous for a picture. CNN.

16. Freddie Mercury Didn’t Believe in Astrology

Despite his Zoroastrian roots and his use of astrological symbols in the Queen logo, Freddie Mercury did not put any stock in astrology. He believed that he was too intelligent and rational a human being to believe in that kind of stuff. Nonetheless, he was inspired by Zoroastrianism.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen’s Moot the Hoople cover. Pinterest.

15. The Band’s First US Tour Was With “Mott the Hoople”

Queen’s first album didn’t attract much mainstream attention, but it did garner enough positive reviews to put them on the track to greatness. Following its release, the band toured the US as the opening band for a group known as Mott the Hoople.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Mercury playing rhythm guitar during a live concert with Queen in Frankfurt, Germany, 1984. Thomas Steffan/Wikimedia Commons.

14. “Queen II” Put the Band on the Charts

The band’s second album, released in 1974, clocked in on record charts in the United Kingdom by hitting number five. The following album, “Sheer Heart Attack,” reached number two in the same year. Their signature musical style would dominate the UK for decades.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen’s A Night At the Opera. Blogspot.

13. The Following Album Was the Most Expensive Album Ever

“Queen: A Night at the Opera” cost £40,000 pounds to produce when it was released in 1975. Adjusted for inflation and converted to American dollars, that’s the equivalent of $385,000. Up until that point, no album had ever cost that much money to produce.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
A picture of Freddie Mercury singing live. CNN.

12. “A Night at the Opera” Introduced the World to Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody, written entirely by Freddie Mercury at his London home, took three weeks to record and, in some sections had 180 overdubs. Four recording studios had to be used to record the song fully. It became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Scene from the music video for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. All Music.

11. Production of Bohemian Rhapsody’s Music Video Was Less Demanding

The music video to Queen’s iconic song took only four hours to record and five hours to edit. In total, the entire music video cost only £4500, just a fraction of what the song itself required to produce. Nevertheless, the music video was a hit.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Iconic Bohemian Rhapsody image from Queen II cover. Queen Vinyls.

10. The Songs Lyrics Are Cryptic

Queen fans have, for decades, tried to decipher what the underlying meaning of the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody is. It talks about the Qur’an, the devil, Galileo, and poverty, among many other things. Freddie Mercury, who wrote the lyrics, insisted that they are meaningless and are just “rhyming nonsense.”

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury loved cats. CNN.

9. Freddie Mercury Was a Cat Lover

He had as many as ten cats at any given time and loved them as much as, if not more than, any humans in his life. When he had enough money to buy his mansion, he gave each of his cats their own bedroom. While on tour, he would call home and insist on talking to them over the phone.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen performing with Adam Lambert during their 2017 tour as Brian May plays the guitar. Raph_PH/Wikimedia Commons.

8. Brian May Built His Own Guitar

He called it Red Special. He and his father built it together when he was a teenager, using wood from a 300-year-old mantelpiece. He wanted an instrument that he wouldn’t just play, but that would interact with him and the surrounding environment, and Red Special did just that.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen performing in 1985 at the Live Aid fundraising concert. Turner.

7. They Performed In Front of the Largest Television Audience Ever

In 1985, Queen performed at the Live Aid fundraising event to a studio of 72,000 people. The performance was broadcast to a television audience of nearly two billion people. The performance was so powerful that in 2005, it was dubbed the greatest rock performance of all time. One sustained note that Freddie sang came to be known as “the note heard around the world.”

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Mercury and Mary Austin at Queen party at London Roof Gardens in July 1986. Alamy Stock Photos/Daily Mail.

6. Freddie’s Final Tour Was in 1986

The Live Aid concert propelled the band to an even higher level of global stardom. They went on tour the next year and performed at Wembley Stadium in London. The live performance became a record which went platinum five times over. The tour would be Freddie’s last.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury getting his mustache trimmed. CNN.

5. Freddie Mercury Tested Positive for HIV

By 1988, fans of Queen noticed that Freddie, now 42 years old, looked thin and ill. He denied that anything was wrong with him, but the previous year, he had tested positive for HIV. The disease proliferated during the 1980s, particularly among the gay community. Freddie became one of its most high-profile victims.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen in New Haven, Connecticut in November 1977. Carl Lender/Wikimedia Commons.

4. Brian May Wrote A Song For Freddie

“The Show Must Go On” was written by Brian May in honor of his continued efforts to continue singing and contributing to the band despite his struggles with AIDS. It was released in October 1991, just a month before Freddie passed away from the disease.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury posing on a park bench in his younger years. Daily Mail.

3. Freddie Mercury Died of Complications From AIDS

Freddie became increasingly ill, so much so that May doubted he would be able to sing “The Show Must Go On.” He didn’t make his illness public until less than 24 hours before he passed away. He died of bronchial pneumonia, which was brought on due to complications from the disease.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
The outer walls of Mercury’s final home, Garden Lodge, 1 Logan Place, west London, became a shrine to the late singer. Pictured in 2014. Adnergje/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Freddie’s Funeral Was Zoroastrian

Freddie Mercury had a private funeral in London, attended only by his family and friends. As much as was possible, it followed the rites of Zoroastrianism. Later, a tribute concert was held in his honor at Wembley Stadium. His home in London has become a shrine of sorts.

Intriguing Facts About Freddie Mercury and Queen
The band Queen performing with singer Adam Lambert as the headlining artist. CNN.

1. The Band Continues Today

Two of the band’s original members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, continue to perform together as Queen. They frequently appear with Adam Lambert as Queen + Adam Lambert. In 2014, they released an album called “Queen Forever.” In honor of Freddie Mercury, they continue to do fundraising to help fight AIDS.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“Queen.” Wikipedia.

“Brian May.” Wikipedia.

“Freddie Mercury.” Wikipedia.

“The Show Must Go On (Queen Song).” Wikipedia.

“101 Facts About Queen” (documentary video). 101 Facts.

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