Thursday, September 24, 2009

Who's that Queer?

Brought to you by Pistol Peete

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946 on the small island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. The electric frontman for the rock band Queen was of Indian nationality and his Parsi background has led many to remember Mercury as “Britain’s first Asian rock star."

In April 1970, Mercury joined with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor who had previously been in a band called Smile. Despite reservations from the other members, Mercury chose the name "Queen" for the new band. He later said about the band's name, "I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it."

As a songwriter, Mercury composed many international hits including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", and "We Are the Champions". After the album Queen II was released, the world was conquered by the band’s outrageously fabulous performances and music.

Mercury is noted for his live performances, which were often delivered to stadium audiences around the world. He displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd. David Bowie, who performed at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and recorded the song "Under Pressure" with Queen said of Mercury, "Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest...he took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights. I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand."

Although he cultivated a very flamboyant stage personality, Mercury was a very shy and retiring man in person, particularly around people he didn't know well. He also granted very few interviews. Mercury once said of himself, "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside I'm a completely different man."

By 1979, Mercury began to frequently visit gay bathhouses and clubs where he met many short-term partners. By 1985, he began a long-term relationship with a hairdresser named Jim Hutton. According to Hutton, Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS shortly after Easter of 1987. Around that time, Mercury claimed in an interview that he had tested negative for the virus. Despite the denials, the British press pursued the rampant rumors over the next few years fuelled by Mercury's increasingly gaunt appearance, Queen's absence from touring, and reports from former lovers to various tabloid journals.

On 22 November 1991, Mercury called Queen's manager Jim Beach over to his Kensington home, to discuss a public statement. The next day, the following announcement was made to the press on behalf of Mercury:

“Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors, and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue.”A little over 24 hours after issuing the statement, Mercury died on 24 November 1991 at the age of 45.

The following is a quote from Mercury, and if we can learn anything from his spectacular yet short existence, it is this: “The most important thing, darling, is to live a fabulous life. As long as it's fabulous I don't care how long I live.”

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