Freddie Mercury died on the 24th November in 1991. Today we celebrate his life with some great facts you may not know or may have forgotten.
10. His real name was Farrokh Bulsara and he was born in Zanzibar. He had a wealthy childhood until he and his family had to flee a bloody revolution. His family are Parsees, followers of the Zorastrian religion whose ancestors came from Persia.
9. He changed the lyrics of “One vision” to “fried chicken” to the last line when dared by his lover Jim Hutton. He sang it on every version since.
8. Freddie was an accomplished ballet dancer, even performing with the royal ballet in 1979.
7. Despite only revealing his illness days before he died, he dropped many hints about his failing health during his last 1986 tour, most famously in a brief speech before performing “Who Wants To Live Forever” at Wembley.
6. By 1986 Queen were fed up with each other and took a break. In 1988 Freddie’s illness was the main reason to regroup and record albums The Miracle and Innuendo.
5. Freddie wrote various songs for his cats: ‘All Dead, all dead’ was about the death of a beloved cat, while Delilah and Bijou were dedicated to the cats that kept him company during his last days. Meanwhile the song “Cool Cat” was about a man who reminded him of a cat. Freddie was a big cat lover and at one point owned up to ten cats. Freddie had portraits painted of his cats and called them daily when on tour.
4. Freddie felt he performed at his best when he was unhappy in love, and seemed to seek out partner accordingly in his early years. Partner Bill Reid was the course of much heartbreak and fights: before one concert Reid bit Mercury’s hand so hard that it left teeth marks and bled profusely. Another fight left their hotel room with a layer of broken glass and plaster on the carpet. Showing that fights did not always led to great performances: one shouting match with Reid left Freddie so hoarse he could barely get his voice back in time to perform at Saturday Night Live.
When dating Tony Bastin Freddie became aware that he was seeing someone else behind his back. As a punishment, he flew him all the way over to the USA, met him up at the airport told him it was over and then put him on the next plane back to London that day. He also kept Bastin’s cat, Oscar.
3. Freddie first met future duet partner David Bowie in the summer of 1970 when he co-managed a stall in Kensington Market, with Roger Taylor. Freddie tried to sell Bowie a pair of suede boots. While he tried them on Mercury quizzed him about the music business. David was very unhappy about the music industry at the time and asked Freddie, ‘Why would you want to get into this business?’
2. Freddie helped Princess Diana disguise as a man so she could go to gay bars with him and his best friend Kenny Everett. The trio also loved watching “Golden Girls” together at the home of close friend Cleo Rocos. Says Cleo: “Kenny turned the sound down on the television and we improvised the voices, but with a much naughtier storyline. Kenny was Blanche, Diana was Dorothy, Freddie was Sophia and I was Rose – we were uncontrollable with laughter.”
1. Freddie was guarded about his sexuality, but did at one point speak about his love for partner Jim Hutton. Saying: “I’m very happy with my relationship at the moment and I couldn’t ask for better. So now I’ve finally found a niche that I was looking for all my life.”
Dannii Cohen is a stand-up comedian (drag name Divine Varod) and comedy writer turned author, psychologist, professional counselor, life coach and self-help expert. Specialized in LGBT issues, anxiety, empowerment, children’s issues and bullying.
Published works include children’s books about childhood depression and the importance of being yourself (When Clouds Hide The Sun and Christopher the Lonely Bear) and an easy to use self help manual 50 Things To Know To Have A Better Life: Self-Improvement Made Easy.