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"I Won't Be a Rock Star. I Will Be a Legend."--the Freddie Mercury Story

Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award-nominated author based out of Juneau, Alaska.

a youthful Farrokh Bulsara

a youthful Farrokh Bulsara

"I like to be surrounded by splendid things."

Farrokh Bulsara, better known as Freddie Mercury, was born into a Zoroastrian (Parsi) family on September 5th, 1946 into the British protectorate of Stone Town, Zanzibar. He lived there until the age of seventeen when, for safety reasons due to the Zanzibar Revolution, he fled with his family and settled in Feltham, Middlesex, England.

He enrolled in art school and earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design and joined a series of bands finally joining up with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor and formed the band which eventually became Queen, and Farrokh became Freddie. John Deacon joined on bass in 1971 to complete the lineup; a lineup that would remain intact until Freddie’s death in 1991.


Freddie with Mary Austin

Freddie with Mary Austin

"What will I be doing in twenty years' time? I'll be dead, darling! Are you crazy?"

"I think in the end being natural and genuine is what wins. I hope that comes out in my songs."

When asked about the name of the band, Freddy replied that he "was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it". Freddie's rampant sexuality-- especially his bisexuality--was no secret. Often when asked about his sexual orientation, he referred to himself as “trisexual” saying he “would try anything.” What gets lost in his flamboyant sexuality is that his first and greatest love was to a woman, Mary Austin. About her he’s quoted as saying: “All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary (Austin) but it's simply impossible. The only friend I've got is Mary and I don't want anybody else.To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that's enough for me.I couldn't fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.” (^ Hauptfuhrer 1977) He had met Austin through guitarist Brian May and, while they ultimately remained friends throughout his life, the romantic relationship ended when he began an affair with an American male record executive

Like many young men, especially rich and famous ones, he had a sense of power and apparent immortality and engaged in risky behavior, often having unprotected sex with several strangers in one evening, men and women while taking copious amounts of drugs (mostly cocaine). When cautioned about his recklessness, especially in light of a new type of cancer that was invading the gay bathhouses and killing homosexual males at an alarming rate, he would scoff and exclaim, “I’m going to live forever.”

Freddie was right, though perhaps not in the context he was thinking when he uttered those words.

Despite this reckless behavoiur, many of Freddie's early lyrics lament his careless lifestyle, particularly those Bohemian Rhapsody. Perhaps the band's most famous song, it has strong allusions to sex and venereal disease and seems in many ways prophetic of his own early demise: "Mama, /I just killed a man/Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he's dead/Mama... life had just begun/But now I've gone and thrown it all away/Mamaaaaa oooh/Didn't mean to make you cry/If I'm not back again this time tomorrow/Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters/Too late, my time has come/Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all the time/Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go/Got to leave you all behind and face the truth/Mamaaaaa oooh/I don't want to die/I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all."

(wikipedia) (VH1 Behind the Music)

Wikipedia: Freddie's vocal Range

Wikipedia: Freddie's vocal Range

Freddy Mercury during the "Some Kind of Magic" tour in 1986, which proved to be his last.

Freddy Mercury during the "Some Kind of Magic" tour in 1986, which proved to be his last.

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"I don't give a shit what people say about me"

In Queen, Freddie developed a persona as one of the most flamboyant and charismatic performers ever. To watch him perform with such gusto and charm, you would never know that off the stage he was quite shy and rarely granted interviews. His favorite singer was Aretha Franklin and Brian May once claimed that Freddie wanted to be reincarnated as the gospel goddess.

Despite Queen’s often un-gospel like lyrical content, the gospel influence was evident in many of Queen’s most famous songs from like Somebody to Love and You’re my Best Friend .

Allmusic has characterized Mercury as "one of rock's greatest all-time entertainers", who possessed "one of the greatest voices in all of music.” Rolling Stone Magazine voted him the greatest rock vocalist of all time. His speaking voice was baritone but he generally performed as a tenor, with a range from a Low F to a high F. He was also a skilled pianist and an able guitarist.

From the mid 70's until 1986, Queen was one of the biggest and best selling acts in rock n roll. Queen has been estimated to have sold 300 million records worldwide and have spent more weeks on UK album charts than any other act, including the Beatles.

(Wikipedia) (Queen Live at Wembley interview disc)

Freddie's statue overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreaux, Switzerland

Freddie's statue overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreaux, Switzerland

The last public shot of Freddy Mercury, taking during the filming of "These are the Days of Our Lives in May of 1991, less then six months before his death.

The last public shot of Freddy Mercury, taking during the filming of "These are the Days of Our Lives in May of 1991, less then six months before his death.

"A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It's a theatrical event."

"I dress to kill, but tastefully. "

"I guess I've always lived the glamorous life of a star. It 's nothing new - I used to spend down to the last dime."

"I have fun with my clothes onstage; it's not a concert you're seeing, it's a fashion show."

"Bohemian Rhapsody"

"We're a very expensive group; we break a lot of rules. It's unheard of to combine opera with a rock theme, my dear . "

At the conclusion of the Some Kind Of Magic Tour in August of 1986, Roger Taylor noted that Freddie seemed more fatigued then normal and he sensed that Freddie knew something was wrong. When the official AIDS diagnosis came in 1987, he gathered his band mates together, told them of the diagnosis and of his desire to keep this a private matter. In the words of Brian May, “As soon [as] we realised (sic) Freddie was ill, we clustered around him like a protective shell. We were lying to everyone, even our own families, because he didn’t want the world intruding on his struggle. He used to say, ‘I don’t want people buying our fucking records out of sympathy.’ We all became very close. We grew up a lot.” When asked about the future of the band, Freddie responded “We’re going to make records until the day I fucking die.”

This proved largely true as Queen no longer performed but continued to record and make videos through the late 80’s and into the early 90’s. In 1990, he made his final public appearance, joining Queen to collect the BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.

Despite persistent rumors that Freddie had AIDS, fueled by Queen's abrupt retirement from touring, Mercury would deny these saying he was merely “exhausted” and that the band had quit touring only because he didn’t want to look “ridiculous” as an aging rock star "prancing about" on stage. Still, his increasingly gaunt appearance, coupled with the death of two of his former lovers from AIDS, lead to the continued conjecture.

Unable to walk and nearly blind, Freddie began refusing his medication, taking only his painkillers. Finally on November 22, 1991, he summoned the band’s manager saying it was time to finally make his illness public. A statement was prepared and was released on the next day.

Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors, and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue.

A little over 24 hours after this statement was released, Freddie died with Mary Austin and his lover, Jim Hutton by his side. He was only 45 years old. Mercury was one of the first celebrities to die from AIDS and his death helped raise awareness about this terminal, yet preventable, disease.

He was given a Zoroastrian funeral and his body was cremated.

Queen did a tribute concert at Wembley Stadium and it was decided the band would carry on with a different singer. Deacon refused to perform without Mercury and left the group after the tribute concert. Queen still continues to perform and record and Freddie remains one of the most revered and influential performers of all time. He has become the legend he longed to be, indeed.

Here's an article on Freddie's forthcoming biopic

Thanks for Reading.






winnie on April 23, 2015:

Thank you great story

Gianluca on January 11, 2014:

Freddie sax!!!

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on July 23, 2013:

laurel. he was an amazing musician and his death was made all the more tragic because AIDS is mostly preventable... we just didn't know about it yet.

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on June 28, 2013:

Amazing tribute to the man, the band, and your writing. His death occurred too soon; what a loss. Imagine what music we have missed.


Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on June 02, 2013:

Hi Frank... Freddie and Queen are my favorite too. Absolutely amazing. Thanks for stopping by.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 27, 2013:

Freddie all in all was a showman, Queen Happens to my favorite group of all-time.. and your Hub was written, put together and produced just right...bravo :)

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 20, 2013:

Undeniably, Freddie was a master musician, with a remarkable musical range. His feeling in his music was apparent, and was a great gift to the world.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on February 18, 2013:

Thanks Girish. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece!

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on January 26, 2013:

a great story, an addition to my knowledge, Freddie is magical, but facing sad times, voted interesting

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on November 12, 2012:

Thanks Eddy. I'm pleased that you enjoyed this, and even more pleased to honor a talent like Freddie.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 24, 2012:

A brilliant tribute to a great musician!!I vote up and share.

Here's to so many more by you.

Have a great day.


Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on October 15, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and saying so, Eddy!

Eiddwen from Wales on September 18, 2012:

A great tribute and thanks for sharing.


Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on September 10, 2012:

Kay, thank you for stopping by. I'd never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on September 10, 2012:

Colin, I lived hearing that story. There are many things I would do in order to have sen Freddie live and in person. I saw Johnny Cash years ago and I didn't appreciate what i was saying (I was too young) and I wonder if I wouldn't have appreciated Freddie for what he was. What a story, Colin, and a close brush with greatness!

Kay on September 04, 2012:

Freddie traveled alone when he was about 7 or 8 years old to India where he spent several years in boarding school. Then his parents moved to England to safety and he joined them there. He took his stage name and decided he had to pass as white to be accepted. Sad that he felt he needed to do that.

epigramman on September 03, 2012:

Well I had my own brush with Freddie - at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto I sat 5 rows from the front and caught a tambourine he threw out - naturally it bounced off a few other heads and hands before it came my way ..... that was the Day at the Races tour.

And yes my friend you have done Freddie proud her - this hub presentation is a true labor of love and a world class effort at that - I will post this madly and gladly to our music group on FB Let's just talk music or cinema - and I hope you had a nice safe and happy summer -sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 7:14pm

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on June 02, 2012:

Thanks B.A. He's one of my favorites as well... I'm also working on a review of their Wembley concert. Thanks for reading and commenting!

B. A. Williams from USA on May 30, 2012:

Great article and one of my favorite musicians, no one can replace him, and one of my favorite songs is by him. Thanks for sharing, quite well done.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on April 14, 2012:

Helder... that's excellent. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Helder Sutia on April 13, 2012:

I was Born 1981, and as a Grown up now 30 Ibecame a GREAT FAN of QUEEN and Freddie Mercury... Became my Idol....

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on March 31, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your reactions, editor... thanks even more for that enlightenment on Freddy's state of mind. I don't think I've heard that before.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on March 31, 2012:

Thanks so much, Nils. That's very kind of you to say!

editorsupremo from London, England on March 31, 2012:

Great hub about a true legend. I loved Freddie. My hubby knew how much I did and I still remember the phone call when all he said was 'Freddie's dead'. My heart sank and I said a little prayer for his tortured soul.

Indeed many of his lyrics were phrophetic, one that reveals his phrophecy is 'Belezabub has a devil set aside for me, for me, for me - I'm ready to die' According to music scholar Mary Whiteley this indicated his emotional state of mind at the time because he has just left Mary after 7 seven years to start his first gay love affair of which he felt guilty about.

Voted up!

Nils Visser from Brighton UK on March 31, 2012:

You rock dude, well written, enjoyable and you struck just the right note with the HIV/AIDS, poignant without getting into the quicksand of just working on emotive issues.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on March 11, 2012:

Thank you very much, TenKay. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I had a blast putting it all together. Take care!

TENKAY from Philippines on March 08, 2012:

So that's what happened to the 'Queen'. I love their music, the blend of voices with the musical accompaniment, what harmony! Such a shame Freddie Mercury is not part of it anymore.

Thanks for sharing FMercury's story.

This is a well-written hub with beautiful videos.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on March 08, 2012:

indeed, buya. Thanks for stopping by!

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on March 08, 2012:

Thanks Tammy. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Unfortunately, I dind't grow up with Queen, but, now I watch "Live at Wembley" once a month. Killer Queen is my current favorite song by them!

BizVT34 from USA on March 08, 2012:

Freddie, you left us too soon.

Tammy from North Carolina on March 08, 2012:

Thunderbolts and lightening, very, very frightening! Great hub. I grew up listening to Queen. I remember the death of Freddie Mercury. Great hub and a well written tribute to a legend!

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on March 05, 2012:

Thanks so much, Hecate. I wish I'd been old enough to appreciate Queen when Freddie was still alive, but, I guess he lives on even through those who never saw him live. Killer Queen still blows my mind. it's such a good song!

hecate-horus from Rowland Woods on March 04, 2012:

I always loved "Queen" and you clued me into a lot of things I didn't know. Freddie was a very complex and talented individual. Voted up!

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on February 29, 2012:

Vera... thanks so much. Queen was one of the most talented and unique rock n roll bands of all time... and they had the best front man I've ever seen. I watch Queen Live at Wembley at least once a month and I always find Freddie mesmerizing. He was a one of a kind talent.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

verastiles from Washington DC on February 29, 2012:

Freddy was a great man, an inspiration to all bands and artists that came into existence after his extraordinary career. Thank you for this wonderful article about his life. He was a complete artist, so in touch with his music that he and the band created lovely musical pieces that make people awe in amazement to this day. New Queen fans are born everyday, and their music is, to this day, an all time favorite of mine.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on February 28, 2012:

Thanks so much, Alisha! I'm glad this pleased you!

alisha4u from New Delhi, India on February 27, 2012:

Great Spirit, Great Story. I always look for such kinda hubs... M gonna share it for sure.... :)

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on February 01, 2012:

Thanks for reading, Peg. I really adore that picture of him as an awkward looking child. it makes me smile

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on February 01, 2012:

Fabulous performer quite nicely framed here in your interesting article. Great memories of those incredible times when performers had a flair for something special. That first picture of him as a child tells a tale about overcoming obstacles.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 31, 2012:

you're welcome, seattle. Thanks for stropping by!

seattleamilehigh1 from Seattle, Washington on January 31, 2012:

A great article about one of my favorite rock stars. it's really sad to see him in his final moments, not how i like to remember the music. it is what it is, you just can't help but be sad. Thanks for the trip down memory lane :D

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 31, 2012:

it's true, Michele. AIDS was not well known back then. If Freddy had been born 20 years later, he probably would have been more careful. I'm glad you enjoyed this. They wrote some amazing tunes!

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on January 30, 2012:

Thanks for this hub. Haven't thought about Queen for a while. Loved all the band. Loved the songs. They didn't know much about AIDS in those days, like they do now. Anyway, thanks again, rememering a lot of songs.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 26, 2012:

Credence, sadly, I was just a little young when he passed away to really remember anything first hand. like most in my generation, I discovered him through the film Wayne's World. Bummer he died on your birthday. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Credence2 from Florida (Space Coast) on January 26, 2012:

Nice job, who could forget the significance of Freddie Mervury and Queen. He passed away on my birthday in 1991, I will always remember...

Thanks Cred2

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 25, 2012:

Marc, I should do a HUB on how Bowie ended up doing Under Pressure with Queen, Really interesting. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 25, 2012:

Thanks Flora, me too. thanks for reading

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 25, 2012:

Bruce, thank you. I did a ton of research on this and, even though i knew a lot of this stuff, i still elarned a lot doing this. I'm glad you did as well. I just rewatched Queen Live at Wembley and noticed, even though the band has aged, the music has not... and they may have the best harmonies since the Beatles. Not familiar with the Spade sketh, though I'm not a huge Spade fan...

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 25, 2012:

Thanks singernurse. That wasn't my intent when I set out, but I'm glad I made note of it, and I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading!

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 25, 2012:

Vincent, thanks a lot. I really enjoyed this hub. I think Freddie Mercury and Queen were absolutely stunning musicians and people.

Marc Babineau from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City on January 25, 2012:

Never better than with Bowie!

FloraBreenRobison on January 25, 2012:

I have always been a big fan of Queen. Thanks for the tribute to Freddie.

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on January 25, 2012:

Excellent tribute to Freddie Mercury....I was a huge fan of Queen back then...and still love the music today. He had one of the greatest voices ever and it is a shame that he passed away so young. I am with David Spade(he has a great comedy routine about Queen)....and had no idea about his sexuality....even with the name of the band being Queen. Lots of interesting facts in your hub....that was fun to read and to listen to...voted up and awesome.

Tina Siuagan from Rizal, Philippines on January 25, 2012:

I appreciated Freddie Mercury more as an artist. And I admire his courage to keep everything "okay" around him. This hub does not only feature Freddie Mercury as a great musician and singer but also, this raises awareness to "this terminal, yet preventable, disease" called AIDS.

Thanks for sharing. :D

Vincent Moore on January 24, 2012:

Fantastic Hub, I admired the man and his music. Even with all his darkest moments he never failed to deliver. He was an Iconic of extremely high calibre. He is certainly missed, Queen will be remembered as a legendary group that was led by a Superstar. It was a bad hand he was delivered, yet he shunned all advice to play it safe, reckless and high strung was Freddie and thus his fatal illness. RIP one of my favourite musicians of all time. Voted up, awesome, beautiful, interesting and amazing.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 24, 2012:

Sue, he was simply amazing, ads a performer and vocalist. The world is is a little less talented for his loss.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 24, 2012:

b. Malin, I'm so glad you enjoyed all aspects of this HUB. The ability to do multi media is one of the reasons Hub pages is so fun. Thank you for your comment and input. Nice to see you as always

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 24, 2012:

Thanks Movie Master. I've always been impressed with Queen's diversity, in addition to their prowess as musicians.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 24, 2012:

Thanks, breakfast. I had a great time researching and writing this!

Sueswan on January 23, 2012:


I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I agree that Freddie was one of the greatest rock vocalist of all time.

Voted up and away!

b. Malin on January 23, 2012:

KaraokeGuy, what a Wonderful Tribute to Freddie Mercury...So much to look at and see. Great Videos! Who didn't love his music... and it really will Live on Forever, especially at Sports Events, I'm sure that would have made Freddie Smile! Sadly, he died much too soon, and will always be missed. You put a lot into this Hub and for that I voted it UP!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on January 23, 2012:

A great tribute to Freddie Mercury, an incredible performer and singer, Queen will always be one of my favourite bands, their music is timeless.

A very well written and interesting read, thank you for sharing and voted up.

breakfastpop on January 23, 2012:

Freddie Mercury was a fabulous performer. You did a great job with this piece.

Justin W Price (author) from Juneau, Alaska on January 22, 2012:

Thank you Andrea. It was a labor of love. There's something tragically fascinating about him and, even though his death was the result of his careless lifestyle, he still deserves sympathy as a human being and admiration as a performer. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Andrea333 on January 22, 2012:

Voted Up and Awesome. Thank you for introducing me to Freddie; of course I knew Queen but I didn't know about Mary Austin or how private he'd kept his battle with AIDS. I appreciate the time you spent paying homage to an incredible performer and from what I gathered from all the great pics you found, a kind person.