Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Birthday: Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury
(September 5, 1946 – November 24, 1991)

Indian rock singer Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, East Africa, and spending most of his childhood in India and learned to play piano, starting at the age of seven, had the uncanny ability to listen to the radio and replay tunes which he heard.

Years later, at the age of 12 he formed a cover band with school mates called The Hectics, who replayed tunes from Little Richard and Cliff Richard. At age 17 his family fled from Zanzibar because of the Zanzibar Revolution and moved to London. In London he learned guitar and joined several bands that failed. In 1970, he met guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, who's band was named Smile. Bulsara would eventually convince them both to change the band's name to "Queen" and also changed his surname to Mercury.

Mercury became the frontman for Queen and also wrote several tunes for the band. As a performer, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and powerful vocals over a four-octave range. As a songwriter, Mercury composed many hits for Queen, including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "We Are the Champions". In addition to his work with Queen, he led a solo career, penning hits such as "Barcelona", "I Was Born to Love You" and "Living on My Own". Mercury also occasionally served as a producer and guest musician (piano or vocals) for other artists.

In 2006, Time Asia named him as one of the most influential Asian heroes of the past 60 years, and he continues to be voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music. In 2005, a poll organized by Blender and MTV2 saw Mercury voted the greatest male singer of all time. In 2008, Rolling Stone editors ranked him number 18 on their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. In 2009, a Classic Rock poll saw him voted the greatest rock singer of all time. Allmusic has characterised Mercury as "one of rock's greatest all-time entertainers", who possessed "one of the greatest voices in all of music".

One of Mercury's most notable performances with Queen took place at Live Aid in 1985, during which the entire stadium audience of 72,000 people clapped, sang and swayed in unison. Queen's performance at the event has since been voted by a group of music executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock music. Below is the video of that performance from Wembley Stadium.

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