Freddie Mercury – An Ode!
Remember the strains of “Bohemian Rhapsody” – the legendary song by the evergreen rock band, The Queen? Or, “We Will Rock You,” one of the ultimate rock anthems of all times? You might be thinking why I am talking about them. Well, yesterday was Freddie Mercury’s, the lead singer of The Queen, 65th birthday! He moved the world with his panache and unique persona. This is my ode to the man who dared to live his dreams – without any inhibitions, without any fear! Read on to trace and know his roots and rise to fame and glory in the history of rock n’ roll.
In a 2002 BBC poll, Freddie was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Britons. His statute was unveiled in Switzerland and a mammoth figure of his looks down on Central London. Since 2002, this huge figure was installed to promote the massive hit musical, We Will Rock You.
But many few actually know about his early days in India. Only few people know that he was an Indian Parsi man. He learned to play the piano as well gave his first performance at St Peter’s boarding school located in Panchgani, Maharashtra. On a sad note, all that remains in India is the burnt-out frame of a Moutrie piano.
The Roots – Tracing the Indian Connection!
Bomi and Jer Bulsara welcomed Farrokh into this world in Zanzibar. Their family name originates from a small town in Southern Gujarat, Bulsar or Valsad. At the mere age of 7, little Farrokh moved to the City of Dreams, Mumbai. He stayed with an aunt and he was eventually sent to St Peter’s in February, 1955. The school was steeped in English tradition, set in the foothills near Pune.
There was an emphasis on manners and etiquette, and still cricket is continued to be played in lily-white, perfect flannels. They say that he was a quite child whose forte was music and art. He boxed and played excellent football, although his left hook was not effective. In the field of Academics, his core strengths were history and English. When he was just 12 years old, he received a Junior All-Rounder trophy for excelling in various fields.
Farrokh devised the name of Freddie in order to beat the bullies at school. He had buckteeth for which the other boys teased him by calling ‘Buckie’. He absolutely hated it and started fighting back. He is synonymous with a famous overbite. It was caused by the presence of 4 extra teeth which pushed the incisors out. Freddie never had any surgery done fearing that it will affect his ‘gifted’ voice.
Foray into Music.
Freddie founded his first band at his school with four other students. The band played regular concert’s which were popular with the small town’s 3,000 people. The band was known as the “The Hectics”. However, the town folk knew them as The Heretics as they were so extreme and different from their times.
Freddie and his band covered the classic hits of Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, apart from traditional choir music and Indian classical music. Later, he listed Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar as his musical idols. If you are an ardent Queen fan, then you can easily trace Bollywood influences on their baroque flourishes or high camp splendour in their music.
St. Peter’s is considered a Mecca among the countless Queen fans. Many do make the pilgrimage in order to pay their homage to their rock idol’s initial beginnings. However, the sad truth is that he is not accepted at the school or in India as he was gay. Even he turned his back on his early days as he had a problem with it. He never talked about his Indian roots.
Freddie’s family later moved to Middlesex, England. After graduating and doing some odd jobs, Freddie joined a band known as Ibex in 1969. After one year, along with drummer Roger Taylor and Brian May, he formed the legendary rock n roll band – The Queen. He eventually changed his surname to mercury. The rest is history!
The Final Battle!
Freddie was openly gay, although he never revealed his HIV status. He was diagnosed with this condition in 1987. He hid his condition from the public glare for nearly two years. He finally succumbed to death on November 24, 1991 at his abode in Kensington. Freddie was just 45, a few months after he bid adieu to Queen.
The invincible rock star would have been 65 this year. Even though he is not physically here, he marked his presence in the hearts of millions. He was a living proof that anyone can achieve his/her dreams. He made his fans feel that they can overcome their own shyness through him, and become the powerful figure of their dreams and ambitions.
One can’t deny the fact that he lived life to the fullest. Freddie devoured life as he celebrated each precious minute. Just like a comet, Freddie Mercury left a luminous trail that will sparkle for many generations yet to come! Belated happy birthday Freddie! Let me surmise my ode with the legendary rock star’s own words,
“Is this real life, Is this just fantasy,
Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality!”