“There’s no time for us. There’s no place for us. What is this thing that builds our dreams, yet slips away from us? Who wants to live forever? (An excerpt of a song written by Brian May, in 1986, for the movie, Highlander). The song was destined to be performed by a musical legend, the one person who could give it the “depth” that it needed. What I believe this legend knew at the time and we didn’t, gave him the “voice and pain” to make the song his own.
His name was Farrokh Bulsara and he was born September 5th, 1946 on the East African Island of Zanzibar to parents of Parsi descent. He later moved to India where he spent his childhood learning to play the piano. In his late teens, he and his family, moved to England. There he developed a love for ballet, opera and theater, ironically, although he was a classically trained pianist, he, by his own admission, could read “very little” sheet music but he could sing and it was incredible, he had developed a singing voice capable of an amazing four octave vocal range. Music was clearly Freddie’s passion and he wanted to share it with the world, which he did in an epic way. He and three others had formed a band. To family and friends, he was Freddie or Farrokh Busara, but to the rest of the world, he was known by another name; Freddie Mercury.
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen, was world renown for his extravagant outfits, incredible stage performances, vocal skills and his lifestyle. It is estimated that Queen has performed in over 700 concerts worldwide. But this story is not about the band. This is about Freddie Mercury, the music and the way in which he faced death.
During the 1980’s, HIV/AIDS was still somewhat of a mystery waiting to be solved. An untreated patient could hope for a lifespan of 9-12 years, however many didn’t get that far. In 1986, Freddie, who was openly gay, was tested for the disease.
He told the press that he didn’t have HIV/AIDS, but many suspected that he actually did. In April of 1987, his partner, Jim Hutton, confirmed that Freddie did indeed have HIV. Fans around the world were stunned that Freddie Mercury could be so sick with this incurable disease. But, this is also not a story about HIV/AIDS.
This is a story about an incredibly gifted musician, of perseverance, the pursuit of theatrical perfection and of the consummate performer.
I suspect that by 1986, Freddie Mercury knew he was ill and that he was not naive about his mortality. Also in 1986, Brian May, lead guitarist of Queen, wrote the song, “Who Wants To Live Forever” and in 1987, it was performed perfectly by Freddie Mercury. I can only imagine the strength it must have taken for Freddie to so passionately perform a song that was an “in your face” reminder that he wasn’t going to live forever. I’m certain that in the recording studio, not a dry eye was to be found by anyone who knew him.
By 1990, Freddie was visibly ill and Brian May had written a song about Freddie and his personal struggle with the disease called “The Show Must Go On”. Freddie, again, provided the vocals. The song “Chronicles the effort of Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life; he was dying from complications due to HIV/AIDS…”.
This is one of the last videos of Freddie Mercury before he died on November 24, 1991. Even near the end, he carried himself with dignity. I believe he was, arguably, the most versatile and talented theatrical/musical performer of the late 20th century. He was, without question, totally committed to his love of music. I find myself reflecting on his life and I can’t help but feel that he was essentially performing his own living eulogy to the world before ultimately leaving us with an enormous void, that once contained the genius that is Freddie Mercury.
This article was written using my own opinions and thoughts. The pictures were obtained from IMDB and the internet. The videos from YouTube, and some items contained within quotation marks from various internet biographies.