Farrokh Bulsara remains a name is music that stands for extravagance, excess and excellence. Just like his rock personae, Freddie Mercury. His performance style was over-the-top, bold and imaginative, all back up nicely by that incredible voice. That voice had both power and nuance, enabling him to rock out with the best of them, as well as sing a heart-breaking ballad. Perhaps the most heartrending fact about his career is that he left us far too soon when he died November 24, 1991, due to complications from AIDS. So it seemed only fitting to me to remember him on World AIDS Day.
As lead singer for the band Queen, with bandmates Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor, ruled the airwaves, putting out 14 studio albums, 13 of which reached gold or platinum status in the US, and all 14 making the status in the UK. From the release of their eponymous debut in 1973 to the final recording including Mercury released posthumously in 1995, they had countless hits, from the rock to the pop charts. The live shows were huge and flamboyant, with Mercury showing up wearing anything from running shorts to the Union Jack to a crown and cape. People flocked to see the shows, to hear the theatrical music and see the brilliant lead singer.
On November 23rd, 1991, Mercury officially announced he was HIV positive, after a few years of rumors and speculation. The next day, he was discovered in his home, dead. All the talk of his health and sexuality became irrelevant, as his amazing talent was lost to the world. But not before leaving a great catalog, a tremendous legacy to the world of music. To remember his on this World AIDS Day, I thought I'd post just a few of my favorite Queen videos.
In 1984, Queen had a huge hit with I Want To Break Free. It was a beautiful song, and the video quite playful, with the boys of the group donning drag to sing about being free.
Who Wants To Live Forever was written by Brian May for the soundtrack to the movie Highlander and released in 1986. It is a gorgous and lush ballad, one of my favorite Queen songs of all-time. The video is just as beautiful.
In 1985, Queen were one of the headliners for the musical milestone Live Aid, performing at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Organizer Bob Geldof and fellow artist Elton John believed their performance stole the show. Dressed in jeans and a wife-beater, Freddie proved he never needed spectacle to stop the show. Here they are from Live Aid singing We Will Rock You/We Are The Campions.
No review of Freddie's work would be complete without the inclusion of Bohemian Rhapsody, the trademark hit for Queen in 1975. It had all the elements of classic Queen; rock, big hair, operatic theatricality, and Freddie's amazing voice and performance. It was #1 worldwide, but somehow only made it to #9 on the US Pop Chart. But it remains today, 35 years later, a major influence on pop culture. From Wayne's World to American Idol, the song continues to shine bright and strong.
Rest well, Farrokh. You are most certainly remembered.