Flaunt your inner Queen and be Freddie for a Day today
The world celebrates Freddie Mercury’s birthday
Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, would be celebrating his 72nd birthday on Wednesday. He died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from Aids.
Fans honour Freddie Mercury every year on September 5 with a global charity celebration called Freddie for a Day. Many celebrate his life by donning a white vest, his famous yellow jacket, and sporting a trademark moustache. The event raises money for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, the Aids charity set up in his name in 1992.
FUN FACTS ABOUT FREDDIE MERCURY
He was born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania). He adopted the name Freddie while at St Peter’s, the English boarding school he attended in India, before he and his family moved to England. Freddie became a table tennis champion at the school.
As a child, between the ages of nine and 12, he enjoyed collecting stamps. His personal album contains stamps from Britain, Monaco, Eastern Europe, Aden (now part of Yemen) and Zanzibar. The collection was bought by The Postal Museum (in the UK) in 1993 and proceeds of the sale went to the Mercury Phoenix Trust.
Freddie was posthumously remembered on one of a special series of stamps that Britain’s Royal Mail produced to mark the millennium.
Freddie once had a part-time job working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport.
He co-owned and ran a stall in Kensington Market in London with Roger Taylor, which opened in the summer of 1969. They sold Freddie’s own artwork as well as secondhand clothes. The two kept the running the stall even after Queen released their first album in 1973.
Freddie had four extra teeth on his upper jaw, which were pushing on the front ones. He never considered fixing them because he believed they contributed to the special sound of his voice – the legendary four-octave range.
While the lyrics of Killer Queen mention Moët & Chandon, Freddie’s own favorite champagne was Louis Roederer Cristal. His other favorite drinks were Stolichnaya vodka and Earl Grey tea – with milk and two sugars. His favourite champagne cocktail was a Bellini (Cristal and peach puree).
He never needed an excuse for a party. For one celebration, he had a cake made in the shape of the Swiss apartment block where he’d bought a flat – complete with towers and turrets.
In 1979, he performed Bohemian Rhapsody and Crazy Little Thing Called Love with the Royal Ballet.
Freddie loved reading magazines such as Architectural Digest, House & Garden and auction catalogues.
One of the most technically accomplished singers to work in pop music, in a list of the greatest English language singers of the 20th century, compiled by BBC Radio, Freddie was ranked number 10. The list included Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole.
Freddie came second in MTV’s list of the 22 greatest singers of the past 25 years – he was beaten by Mariah Carey.
In 2016, a research team undertook a study to understand the unique appeal of Freddie’s voice. The Austrian, Czech and Swedish researchers studied archival recordings. They noted the singer’s faster vibrato and use of subharmonics, particularly in comparison to opera singers.
Other than his passion for music, one of Freddie’s favourite hobbies was shopping, mainly for other people. Generous to a fault, he loved buying expensive perfumes, cologne, watches and jewellery.
Despite not believing in astrology, Freddie designed Queen’s crest using the astrological signs of the four members: two Leos, one Cancer and one Virgo. (He studied graphic design at Ealing College of Art.)
Freddie loved cats and owned several – some exotic long haired cats were gifts from friends and others were rescued from a shelter. One of his cats, Delilah, was the inspiration for Queen song of the same name.
Freddie was a big fan of the Spanish operatic soprano Montserrat Caballé. The musicians teamed up to record an album together in 1987 called Barcelona and a hit of the same name. Though Freddie didn’t live to see it, Barcelona was featured at the Olympic Games in 1992, going on to become the best known song of any Olympics.
Queen wasn’t going to release Another One Bites the Dust as a single until Michael Jackson convinced them. It became the most successful US single of their career.
Despite the popular song lyrics from Bicycle Race, Freddie didn’t like riding bicycles.
Freddie’s final home, Garden Lodge, 1 Logan Place, is a 28-room Georgian mansion in Kensington, London, set in a 2,500 square-metre manicured garden surrounded by a high brick wall. It was picked out by Mary Austin, who had been his girlfriend then became his best friend. In his will, Freddie left his London home and the contents to Austin, his lifelong companion, and she continues to live there.
An asteroid was named after Freddie to commemorate what would have been his 70th birthday in September 2016. The International Astronomical Union designated asteroid 17473 as Freddiemercury. The asteroid was discovered in 1991, the same year Freddie died. It orbits the sun on a path between Mars and Jupiter. Announcing the news, Brian May said Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury is “just a dot of light, but it’s a very special dot of light”.