The UK has produced countless notable musicians throughout music history, particularly in the second half of the twentieth century. Some rose to greatness and achieved the status of icon through their music; some had a meteoric rise to fame and then faded away just as quickly. At the mere mention of his name, there’s no question of which of these categories Freddie Mercury fits into.
To date, he is considered one of the greatest and most influential rock musicians in all of history. He is also one of quite a few great artists who were taken from this world far too early. Freddie was a brilliant and complex individual, full of flamboyance and panache on stage, while shy and almost timid off-stage. Born under the name of Farrokh Bulsara, he grew up in Zanzibar and later on in India. He started his musical journey at the tender age of 12 learning to play the piano. Freddie moved to England in his late teens and quickly paid his dues in quite a few local bands.
After many false starts with each project he finally formed Queen; the band that would eventually make him the legendary star he’s still known as today. Despite his passing in 1991 at the tender age of 45 due to complications after contracting HIV, his mark on the music industry has not faded in the slightest.
Unlike many musicians, his premature death was not responsible for people all over the globe considering him the “greatest rock-star” of his time, as is the case with quite a few lesser musicians who gain their peak of fame posthumously. Even during his lifetime, he was considered a charismatic and gifted entertainer and one of the greatest vocalists of his era. Proof of this lies in the numerous cover versions and samples taken from his oeuvre. Still today, you see both celebrities and fans wearing Freddie Mercury merchandise in homage to an artist that changed the face of rock music as we know it.
Even in death Freddie Mercury continues to receive award after award from an impressive medley of influential organisations within the music industry. MTV2 awarded him the title of the greatest male singer of all time in 2005, and Classic Rock Magazine also awarded Mr Mecury a similar trophy in 2009. Another well-known magazine you may have heard of, Rolling Stone, which is considered something of an authority when it comes to music, ranked him the 18th greatest singer of all time. The BBC listed him as number 58 in the top 100 Greatest Britons of all time back in 2002. Then there is also the fact that Queen’s Greatest Hits Album (released in 1981) still holds the record for being the highest selling album in the UK, ever.
Daniella Harvey is a freelance music journalist and gay rights activist who likes to look at the impact artists make on society as well as the music industry.