There’s hardly an ear in the world that hasn’t been soulfully soothed by the delectable, velvet voice of Mr Freddie Mercury. He still haunts us to this present time, with countless hours of radio air-time, and numerable film and television appearances (Even long after his untimely death). Most notable is the fact that sport events have made an increasing habit of playing ‘We are the Champions’ at any available opportunity they can scrounge – ironic if they lose, eh?
The late, great Freddie Mercury would have reached the ripe, old but still bold age of 66 this year. Imagine it now, a sprinkling of grey adorning his thick black hair – perhaps like Brian May’s recently infamous ‘Hair Do’ – and the realisation that his signature holding of a long microphone stand brilliantly doubles up as a rather demeaning, yet successful walking stick.
It’s increasingly hard to believe that Freddie Mercury escaped us over 20 years ago, because a man of such talent and soul seems to have left a permanent tattoo on the minds of the living.
All of us can recall his exuberant Live Aid performance, modelling his trade-mark handle bar moustache and far-too-tight white vest with the infamous yellow leather jacket, belting out in perfect pitch Queen’s greatest hits to billions of adoring fans and tens of thousands of not so adorably sweaty live fans.
(If you have never heard of ‘Queen’ then you have shocked me – and thousands others – to the very marrow. What do you listen to exactly? I recommend you get hold of one of their beautifully remastered albums, and let your parched ears drink up the vintage glam rock and soul, equivalent of a fifty year old Chardonnay.)
Mercury stayed loved in the hearts of the public throughout his entire musical career, even when his mid-80’s drug scandal hit the headlines, with rumours (later to be confirmed by himself) of wild androgynous themed parties, where it wasn’t uncommon to find transsexuals, sexual deviants and a rather revealingly dressed Freddie Mercury, his pupils wide with more than adrenalin.
Still, in the business and outside, everyone managed to convince themselves that there was justification for his substance abuse in his genius. As well as the mercurial mark printed in the hearts of rock lovers, he also left physical ones. Pop them into a CD player and experience once again the harmonious bliss, close to perfect vocal skills and Queen’s early Pink Floyd guitars, with their own unique atmospheric, out of space spin, it will be as if Queen never left.
While Mercury’s life was never shy of controversy – and despite his extraordinary confidence on stage, and outspoken tendencies in his song lyrics – behind closed doors he was very much a private man, and kept his personal life as secret as possible.
It’s rather hard to believe that very few people guessed Mercury’s sexual preference earlier. Well, even if they managed to fathom it out, it was never really spread around in the media, or even spoken of. In fact, the now widely- known homosexual never did officially come out in public at all, but most would have assumed that, with all the prancing around in outlandishly tight costumes – including dressing in drag, complete with his moustache and the continual referencing of ‘lover boys’ in his music – Mercury was definitely gay.
Whatever was going on in Mercury’s personal life, he didn’t let it affect his performances. Live shows were the foundation of Queen’s legend and Mercury and the band performed them flawlessly, right down to the last ‘Galileo’ to thousands and millions of devout fans. Mercury had an increasing habit of captivating the audience mid-show by improvising audience participation, the fans seemed to enjoy following and repeating Mercury’s immaculate voice, so much so that it soon became a permanent addition to the show.
He always had an amazing stage presence, proudly walking through the wings to meet the worked up crowd, head held high with a brilliant sense of amour-propre, and every face instantly morphed to a positively beaming expression. Mercury’s timing was impeccable, his confidence shining through his lively dancing and banters with the audience.
However, there was no song that built the audience to a loving crescendo quite so much, than Mercury’s own creation: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
The song first flooded public ears in 1975 and the lyrics were nothing short of genius, but utterly insane. It sounds immensely like the telling of a heartfelt story, but even now, as I sit listening, I’m reluctant to say, I haven’t the slightly idea what this creative madness is about. But perhaps that’s the beauty of it; Bohemian seems to be split into an array of conjoined songs. It captivates every audience with the dramatic transcend of gentle melodies to a full on rock ballad.
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has the uncanny and unnatural ability to affect all roots of one’s emotion, from the emotional tugging beginning, moving to a soul rising heavy rock solo soon to be joined with an operatic segment and finally the end which on many occasions dragged unwilling tears from available eyes, leaving the listener panting to an eventual hearts on situation with the famous bang on the cymbal finale. It was a work out of pure genius on a black vinyl.
Mercury’s music composing skills was lent to the majority of the songs he fronted. The playful but beautifully composed drum solos, leading into Mercury’s own semi falsetto, silky smooth voice, which toned down to a painfully perfect whisper and outwards to his signature, belted out, almost shouted, but still mesmerizingly pitched notes.
Due to a craze of experimentation, and perhaps due to his urge to be promiscuous, Mercury’s downfall was the (little known about) virus that preyed particularly on gay men; Aids. Mercury confirmed to the public about his disease on the 23rd of November 1991. He died the next day.
With true rock and roll sprit, Mercury lived up to the ‘Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll’ slogan. It may have ultimately killed him, but didn’t that fabulous Queen from Queen live the life.
There’s no doubt he will never be forgotten.
By C. Maria.