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The life and times of Freddie Mercury

By Bukky Babalola

Published August 8, 2018

In his 1970s and 1980s heyday, Freddie Mercury was one of the most adored and revered rock stars in the world.

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He was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946, in Zanzibar, Tanzania, but his stardom would come thousands of miles and a world away from the place he was born.

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In the early 1970s, Mercury added his impressive vocals to an ensemble that included guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon. The band was called Queen.

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Mercury’s bandmates described him as generous, utterly dedicated to music and warmhearted.

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Queen’s 1980 release, “Another One Bites the Dust,” is one of the band’s best-selling singles, while their 1981 compilation album, "Greatest Hits," became their best-selling album in the UK.

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Mercury was a magnetic performer who thrilled fans with his charisma and vocal prowess in songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody.” His costumes, often skin-tight spandex, added to his allure and persona.

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He planned performances carefully. In an interview, Mercury said that after every performance, he did extensive research and asked his lighting man for new ideas.

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Mercury had a larger-than-life personality while performing, but he was said to be shy offstage, particularly around people he didn’t know.

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Mercury had an unassuming demeanor, despite his accomplishments. He also had a powerful drive to succeed.

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"If I lost everything, I'd claw my way back to the top somehow"

Freddie Mercury

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His bisexuality was no secret to the people closest to him, but Mercury kept his relationships with women and men private. He never married but had some long-term relationships.

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Mercury’s untimely death at the age of 45 on November 24, 1991, has been attributed to bronchial pneumonia, resulting from AIDS.

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His legacy endures. Queen’s "Greatest Hits" still holds the record as the highest-selling album in the UK.

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In 2011, Google celebrated what would have been Mercury’s 65th birthday with a doodle animating the band’s hit “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

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This year, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a biopic of Queen featuring American actor Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, will chronicle the 15-year period between the band’s formation and their iconic 1985 Wembley Stadium performance.

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