November 30, 2021
Freddie Mercury (born September 5, 1946 as Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, Sultanate of Zanzibar, † November 24, 1991 in Kensington, London) was a British musician and one of the most important rock singers of the 1970s and 1980s. He became known as the co-founder, composer and lead singer of the band Queen. Mercury composed world hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) or We Are the Champions (1977).
Origin and boarding school in India (1946–1963) and faith
Mercury was born as Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946 on the island of Zanzibar in what was then the British protectorate of Zanzibar. He was the first child of the British embassy employee Bomi Bulsara (1908-2003) and his wife Jer (1922-2016). The family came from India and belonged to the Parsees.
From the school year 1954/55, Mercury attended the English-language boys' boarding school St. Peter’s School in Panchgani in the Indian state of Bombay. There he got the nickname "Freddie", which he kept all his life. The director of the boarding school noticed Mercury's musical talent and suggested that his parents let him learn to play the piano. In addition, Mercury joined the school choir and took part in performances of the school theater. At the age of about twelve he became a member of the band The Hectics, which consisted of five musicians and whose performances took place primarily in the context of school events.
Freddie Mercury's religion was Zoroastrianism. He was thus later the most famous Zoroastrian of the recent past.
Youth and art studies in London (1963–1969)
Mercury returned to Zanzibar in the summer of 1963 without a school leaving certificate, which became independent from British colonial rule at the end of the year. In January 1964 there was a violent revolution against the Sultan of Zanzibar. In the same month, Bomi and Jer Bulsara fled to London with their 17-year-old son Freddie and his sister Kashmira, who was born in 1952, and moved to the suburb of Feltham. From 1964 to 1966, Mercury attended what was then Isleworth Polytechnic (now West Thames College) in West London, from which he completed an A-Level Certificate (comparable to the German Abitur). From 1966 to 1969 he was an art student at Ealing College of Art, from which he graduated with a degree in graphic design. During this time he made numerous drawings, including portraits of his idols Jimi Hendrix, Rock Hudson, Paul McCartney and Cliff Richard. He also designed fashionable men's clothing.
Roadie of the band Smile and lead singer of the bands Wreckage and Sour Milk Sea (1969 to 1970)
Through his fellow student Tim Staffell, Mercury - who was still called Freddie Bulsara at the time - got to know the band Smile, which had existed since 1968. The band consisted of Tim Staffell (vocals and bass), Brian May (guitar) and Roger Taylor (drums). Mercury accompanied the band as a roadie at their live concerts and also brought in their own ideas as to how the band Smile should design their appearance and their stage appearances. During this time, Mercury and Taylor ran a small stall in London's Kensington Market. During 1969, Mercury joined the Liverpool-based band Ibex as lead singer, which appeared under the new name Wreckage from autumn 1969. At the concerts of these bands, the piece Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley could be heard, which was later often played by Queen. At this time he also met Mary Austin, with whom a close friendship developed. In September 1969, the band Wreckage performed at the club The Sink in Liverpool, where Roger Taylor and Brian May also played in the encore. After finishing his engagement with Wreckage, Mercury became the singer of the band Sour Milk Sea for a short time, with whom he had some appearances in early 1970.
Founding of Queen and stage name Freddie Mercury (1970)
In the spring of 1970 the band broke up