On November 24 1991, Freddie Mercury, the frontman of Queen, passed away. The singer continues to inspire artists and musicians with his energetic on-stage persona and his fluctuating style. Recently reincarnated in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” biopic by American actor Rami Malek, the day-to-day life of the star has never been so highly publicized.
Here are some facts about Freddie Mercury and intimate shots of him:
- He designed the band’s logo
He designed the logo featuring all the band members’ zodiac signs. And a phoenix. A phoenix is not one of their zodiac signs, but if you had to throw anything in it would probably be that.
He sang with a broken mic stand
Freddie frequently performed with a mic “stick”: basically just the boom and the microphone detached from the stand. The legend goes that Freddie’s mic snapped once during a show and he preferred the new setup much more and decided to make it a thing.
He had an interesting relationship with Bowie
Mercury once helped set up the equipment at a Bowie gig at his art college. Later, the two artists collaborated on “Under Pressure” – an incredibly tense bender of a session that caused some explosive confrontations between the two acts. Bowie, however, had a lot of respect for the artist: “Of all the more theatrical performers, Freddie took it further than the rest. He took it over the edge. And of course I always admire a man who wears tights!”
He’s responsible for the Sex Pistols
Freddie Mercury’s love of his teeth (and consequent fear of dentistry) meant his appointments were few and far between, but one of them was responsible for a part of British punk history. Queen were booked to appear on Tonight With Bill Grundy in December 1976. When the band had to pull out for Mercury’s first dental appointment in 15 years, the Sex Pistols were brought on instead.
Theirs was not a happy relationship, though. Freddie loved a nickname and used to call Sid “Simon Ferocious”. There was also an occasion at Wessex Sound Studios in 1977 where Vicious quipped, “Have you succeeded in bringing ballet to the masses yet?” To which Mercury went over and physically threw him out of the studio.
He had a complex relationship with his teeth
The distinctive smile of the Queen frontman was the product of having four extra teeth in the back. He refused to have them fixed, mainly because he feared it would in some way undo his vocal aptitude.
He once took Princess Diana to a gay bar in drag
According to comedian Cleo Rocos, she smuggled the Princess into the Royal Vauxhall Tavern alongside Freddie and comedian Kenny Everett in 1988. Better still? It was the product of the quartet all watching The Golden Girls together. They dragged her up in a camo jacket and leather cap and, apparently, nobody was any the wiser and she was able to just order a few drinks and have a night out in a gay bar.
He had a ludicrous vocal range
Freddie Mercury is said to have had a four-octave vocal range with a very unique tone. A study in 2016 could not confirm whether his range truly was that broad, but he was talented enough to be a baritone who could leap into a full tenor range when required, with a vibrato faster than Pavarotti’s. Researchers believe he may have played with something called subharmonics, something you see more in throat singers than rock stars.
He was good friends with Elton John
All of Freddie’s close friends had female nicknames – Elton’s was “Sharon”. The two artists were both party animals, but even Elton admitted Freddie could “out-party” him.
The Christmas after Freddie died, Elton John received a package wrapped in a pillowcase. Inside was a painting by one of his favourite artists and the following note: “Dear Sharon, thought you’d like this. Love Melina.”
He loved his cats
Freddie Mercury was an avid lover of his cats. In his solo album, Mr Bad Guy, there’s a dedication in the sleeve notes: “This album is dedicated to my cat Jerry. Also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe. Screw everybody else!” He also wrote the song “Delilah” as a tribute to the titular cat.
He recorded The Show Must Go On just before he died
“The Show Must Go On” was released as a single just six weeks before Freddie Mercury’s death. After Brian May wrote it, he feared Freddie would be too ill to be able to sing the demanding vocals. When the time came, Freddie, who was so ill that the accompanying video was just a montage of old live clips, drank a measure of vodka, said “I’ll fucking do it, darling” and smashed it in one take.