When Farookh was 8 he was sent to St.Peter's boarding school in Panchgani near Bombay. His friends there called him Freddie, a name his family adopted.
Freddie's talent at sport was mixed, he hated cricket and long distance running, but liked hockey, sprinting and boxing. Freddie's mother did not like him boxing and wrote and told him so. And so he turned to table tennis and became the school champion at the age of ten.
Freddie's talents were not confined to sport, at the age of twelve he won the trophy for Best Junior All-Rounder. Among his other talents were art and music, and he also joined the school choir. Freddie took piano lessons on his mothers insistance, but soon grew to love and enjoy playing.
It wasn't long before Freddie formed his first band, The Hectics, they used to play at school dances and fetes.
Freddie was exposed to a mixture of music at school, he liked to listen to mystical Indian music, but also liked to listen to his parents' collection of classical music, as well as a smattering of rock and roll that was beginning to take the West by storm. The influence of this cocktail of styles was to be evident in the intricate compositions Freddie would later pen for Queen.
The Bulsaras were Zoroastrians, followers of the prophet Zoroaster. He was taught that celibacy and abstinence sap man's spirit and make him susceptible to evil.
He became a full member of the religion at age eight, in the solemn Navjote ceremony. In front of eternal fires he repeated the appropriate prayers, accepting the teachings of the religion as revealed to Zoroaster by the god Ahura Mazda. He was given a shirt known as sudreh, made out of white muslin to symbolize purity. The high priest tied around his waist a kusti, a cord woven from purest white wool. The young initiate was showered with rose petals, coconut shavings and pomegranate seeds.
In 1963 he and his family which included his sister Kashmira, moved to Britain due to political unrest in their country, and made their new home in Feltham, Middlesex, in a semi-detached house right in the flight-path of Heathrow Airport. Freddie's parents stayed in this house even when Freddie became a superstar, he was never able to persuade them to move. 1964 was an exciting time in Britain. The swinging 60's were under way. Exciting pop groups were emerging, and Freddie began to get caught up in this new and groovy world.
Two years later, he enrolled in Ealing College of Art to study graphic illustration. Here he met Tim Staffell who introduced him to Smile, his band, with Brian May on the guitar and Roger Taylor on the drums. Watching Smile made Freddie realise that he really wanted to be in a band himself, so after he finished his diploma in graphic art and design, he joined a band called Ibex, taking over lead vocals from their guitarist, Mike Berstin. They travelled up and down the country playing gigs in schools, colleges and pubs. The band was going nowhere fast as they were making very little money. They would get about £25 for a gig, but the lighting show cost £15, but Freddie would not go on without them. Their last gig was a disaster, it took place at the Wade Deacon School in Widnes, all the equipment packed in, and as Freddie was swinging the mike around the heavy base fell off narrowly missing people, but since then he has never used the stand, as we know.
Freddie sang with a band called Sour Milk Sea for a while, but when they broke up he formed his own band called Wreckage, that band lasted only a short while also, as did Larry Lurex.
Freddie was spending more and more time now with Roger Taylor, and they both decided to open a stall on Kensington Market, selling paintings and artwork mainly donated by friends at college. They later started selling clothes which was more profitable, they sold Victorian clothes, furs, hats and other items.
In April 1970 Tim Staffell decided to leave Smile, and it was a unanimous decision that Freddie join them as lead singer.
Freddie decided to change the name of the band to Queen, Brian and Roger were not keen on the idea, but he talked them into it eventually, he also changed his last name to Mercury. In 1971 John Deacon joined the band and Queen were complete.
Freddie, who had left college with an Art and Design Diploma came up with the now famous Queen logo. The birthsigns of all four were used, two lions (Leo for Roger and John), holding up a Q around a crown, a crab (Cancer for Brian) on top, and two fairies (Virgo for Freddie), playing at the bottom, and behind a phoenix rising.
Freddie has always been considered the frontman of the band; indeed, with his flamboyant style and his unmistakable voice, he was a natural choice. He had a diverse style in the writing of his music, from the famous operatic Bohemian Rhapsody, to the stadium rock classic We are the Champions.
Freddie was always a showman especially on stage, he would appear wearing leotards, catsuits, velvet trousers, hot pants, shorts, tights and leather. He was once challenged by Rob Halford, the lead singer with Judas Priest to prove he was manly enough to wear all his leather gear, by racing him round Brand's Hatch on racing bikes. Freddie accepted the challenge as long as Halford danced with the Royal Ballet, as Freddie had done, the challenge was dropped.
Part of Freddie's leather outfit was either red or blue knee pads. When Queen played at the Liverpool Empire, he wore one red and one blue so as to keep both Liverpool and Everton fans happy.
In September 1975, Queen performed to over 200,000 fans at Hyde Park. He dressed in a skin tight white leotard, and at half time changed into a black one. At the end of the concert the fans refused to leave whistleing and stamping and demanding an encore, the group were under strict instructions from the police that no encores must be made, Freddie was adamant that he was going back on, but when the police said they would arrest him, he changed his mind, it would not be a good idea to be thrown in jail dressed as he was. In 1980, Freddie changed his image. He decided to adopt what some might say a gay look. He cut his hair and grew a macho moustache and stopped painting his fingernails. As a result the band's offices were flooded with gifts of nail polish and razor blades. At the first gig of that year's American tour, the audience bombarded the stage with disposable razors. Freddie also had a musical career independantly of Queen. His most famous were his collaborations with Montserrat Caballe. Freddie had been an opera lover for quite a while, but had always preferred the male voice, however in May 1983 he went to a performance of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera at the Royal Opera House. Pavarotti was singing the male lead, and the female soloist was Caballe, Freddie was awestruck by the beauty and power of her voice. Two months later they met at the Ritz in Barcelona, Freddie played some of his music to her, and they decided to record some songs to-gether, including the world famous Barcelona. Freddie was reported to have said that this was one of the most fulfilling experiences of his life.
Freddie's partying was legendry. It became standard for the group to throw extravagant parties after each concert. However Freddie's birthday bashes were the most wild and extravagant affairs. It was quite normal for him to splash out £30,000 on drinks and entertainment. With one party reputedly costing £200,000.
On Freddie's forty-first birthday, he hired the exclusive Pykes Hotel in Ibiza for his 500 guests. A DC-9 was also hired to bring his friends in from England, the plane only just made it, landing with only one engine. A huge firework display blazed Freddie's name across the Mediterranean sky, and he was treated to a 20' birthday cake.
At a Royal Ballet gala he met Prince Andrew, who had to fish out Freddie's white silk scarf from the drinks and wring it out. When the Prince asked Freddie to sing, he said he would if the Prince would swing from one of the chandelier's first, Prince Andrew refused unfortunately, he also turned down an invitation from Freddie to join him and some members of the Royal Ballet on a visit to the gay nightclub Heaven. Freddie was also a shopaholic, the group's tours to Japan gave him the opportunity to indulge in his fetish for shopping. He would buy armfuls of kimonos and other silks, he also built up a fabulous collection of Japanese art. Later on he would make lightning trips to Japan, a place he really loved, just to go shopping. On one of his trips to Tokyo one of the city's biggest stores, the Shibuya Seiba, closed whole floors so Freddie could have a completely personal service. On another occasion he spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a 144 piece dinner service handpainted with miniature copies of Constable paintings, each serving plate cost £20.000. He also spent thousands on Japanese koi carp, to fill the pond at his Kensington home. The jewellers Cartier would stay open late so Freddie could buy gold and jewellry unhindered. He also amassed one of the best private collections in Britain, Japanese wood- cuts, works by Victorian masters and impressionist paintings, among them.
Another of Freddie's luxuries was his Kensington Mansion, Garden Lodge cost him £500,000 cash, he was later offered a million pounds for it, but would not sell. It has eight bedrooms, four marble bathrooms, a jacuzzi and a minstrel's gallery. Freddie's bedroom was the most special room in the house, it was made from three rooms, had an emperor size bed which had to be lifted up to the top floor with a crane, surrounded by a colonade of Romanesque columns. Above the bed was a lighting system controlled from a console, this could create different effects, such as dawn, dusk, a sunset etc. One of the bathrooms was in black marble shot through with gold. The refurbishing took years, but when Freddie went for a weekend to see how it felt, he never moved out, bringing with him his beloved cats, Oscar, Delilah and Tiffany. The mansion would become a sanctuary for Freddie towards the end of his life, as he put his days of partying and high living behind him.
One of Freddie's most intimate relationships was with Mary Austin, she was a rock he could cling to throughout his stormy life. He met her in the sixties, in a boutique she worked in called Biba, it took him almost six months to pluck up the courage to ask Mary out, but then she became his constant companion. They lived to-gether for seven years, but remained good friends untill the end.
Later in his life, he was diagnosed with having AIDS, but he never told anyone, but people were beginning to suspect something was wrong. His appearance in public was rare, and he became a recluse in his Kensington home. Freddie also kept his secret from other members of the band and it was only 24hrs before the end that he announced to the world that he had AIDS. The end came quickly, his parents did not even have time to get to his bedside.
On the bitterly cold evening of Sunday November 24th 1991, at approximately 7pm GMT, at the age of 46 he passed away due to the effects of the disease. Freddie was cremated at a private ceremony, conducted in his parents Zoroastrian faith, four hearses being used just to carry flowers. The resting place of his ashes was kept secret for obvious reasons, but are most likely with his parents, but we will probably never know for sure.
In loving memory of Freddie Mercury.
The Late Great Freddie Mercury
Freddie the King of Queen
If the image doesn't show up. i'm still trying to work out the bugs!