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My Tribute To Freddie Mercury(1946-1991)

November 23, 2010

“Art reveals the human emotions-The strongest emotions to the softest, the important emotions to the lightest of them, the most beautiful emotions to the dirtiest of them. The work of an artist is to reach an emotional height and to impart it to the admirer through lines, colours, sounds, movements and words and make him feel the same emotional height”

Leo Tolstoy in About Art

Nobody personifies this quote better than Freddie Mercury- The flamboyant lead vocalist of the Rock band Queen. Freddie Mercury was totally versatile with an intuitive vision and possessed the magical ability to converse with the hearts of masses through the magic of his music.Rock Star David Bowie commented: “Of all Rock performers on stage, Freddie Mercury went the farthest. He took Rock events to their zenith. He could turn simple practices into big attractions. During his music events he used to reach the very frontiers of entertainment. Whether in rough and ready, leather outfit or in the briefest of women attire, he drove the narcissist world of Rock music wild with excitement and ecstasy.”

Freddie Mercury had a rare feat of having two of his songs commissioned as anthems of two of the greatest Sport events- His operatic duet with Montserrat Caballé “Barcelona” for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and his power ballad “We are the Champions” was the anthem for 1994 FIFA World Cup. Alas! He didn’t live to witness either of the events.

He was a poet, rocker, artist, showman, maestro and a genius. Even though Freddie’s music came to an unexpected full-stop by his death due to AIDS related complications, his legacy and charisma are still alive. Music lovers still romance with his voice. Freddie continues to be voted as the Greatest Rock Singer of all times in various surveys all over the globe and his voice, which ranged over a four-octave range, has been polled to be the greatest across online surveys. Even after his death, he often indisputably named the Greatest Live Performer of all times. Queen sold about 300 million records worldwide and enjoyed insuperable popularity in both English and non-English speaking world, penetrating through the Iron curtain. In the UK, Queen has garnered more collective weeks on the UK Album Charts than any other musical gig-including The Beatles, Sir Elton John and George Michael. Queen’s Greatest Hits is the highest selling album of all time in the UK and Netherlands. Mercury’s songs, “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”, have also each been voted as the greatest song of all time in major polls and Guinness World Records respectively. His other songs continue to be evergreen rock hits in playlists all across the planet.

Freddie mercury at Live Aid

Freddie mercury at Live Aid

Another stellar event in Freddie’s life was ‘Live Aid’ in 1985, when Freddie mesmerized the strong crowd of 70,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium. There, when he sang for 20 minutes, he had an audience of 2 million glued to their TV sets. It continues to be voted the Greatest Rock gig ever to this day. Lady Gaga mentions him as her icon and even named herself after his super hit song”Radio GAGA”in his respect. Almost every Major Rock Musician today has cited him as an illumination in their lives.

One of the rarely discussed aspects of Freddie’s life was his bringing up in India and his Indian roots. Freddie Mercury was born Faroukh Bulsara to Parsi parents in Zanzibar.His parents came from Valsad in Gujarat(Hence the surname Bulsara-The one hailing from Valsad) and spoke Gujarati at home. He arrived in India from Zanzibar at the age of seven thereafter he received his education in India at St. Peter’s School, Panchagani and St. Mary’s School, Mumbai. His extended family still lives in Mumbai.Young Freddie got initiated into his Parsi(Zoroastrianism) religion and was a fairly religious child. It was his nine year stay in India that shaped up the musician inside him. It has been said that his early influence was Bollywood music and Lata Mangeshkar. The Indian influence is apparent when one listens to his singles “Mustapha” and “Don’t stop me now”. Freddie set up his first band ”The Hectics” in Boarding school with fellow classmates and thus foundations of what would be a phenomenal saga were laid. Later, Freddie moved on to London and the remaining, as they say, is history. Queen gave hits after hits and sold an astonishing number of records,carving its name in Golden ink in the history of music and in the minds and hearts of music lovers all over the world.

Freddie Mercury attained stupendous success in a field which was considered hegemony of the colonials. He belonged to the generation born at the dusk of British Raj when high aspirations were greeted with innuendos of  infeasibility and ridicule rather than optimism. Just as Salman Rushdie,coming from the same generation, conquered overwhelming eminence in what would traditionally be deemed “Colonizer’s Niche”; Freddie too ventured into Rock music and garnered fantastic fruition. He is indeed as a role model for all those aspiring Indians and Asians whose audacity of hope and aspiration gets dampened with the perception of Colonizer’s art as something impassible and insurmountable.

The last video take of Freddie Mercury

The last video take of Freddie Mercury from the song "These are the Days of our Lives".His deteriorating condition due to AIDS is evident.

Freddie Mercury’s music and his iconic life were cut short by his death from AIDS. Despite his diagnosis in 1987, he bravely continued to produce some of his best works. He humorously sings of his illness in the song “I Am Going Slightly Mad”. Freddie Mercury’s last music video “These Are The Days of Our Lives” was released after his demise. In those pale black and white visuals, Freddie Mercury appears without any made up expressions, thinned down by his sickness and hand in hand with Death, Freddie bids a final good bye to all his admirers saying ‘I Still Love You’ as his image slowly fades away.Freddie Mercury died on November 24th,1991 due to bronchopneumonia brought upon by  AIDS.He was given a Parsi(Zoroastrian) funeral.His death continues to be one of the most notable deaths due to HIV/AIDS and marks an important event in AIDS history. Surviving members of Queen and other friends organised Freddie Mercury tribute Concert in his memory(estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide) and set up the Mercury Phoenix Trust which  since its inception, has generated millions of Dollars for various AIDS charities.


Shrey Vats with Freddie Mercury's statue in Montreaux, Switzerland

Regrettably, most of his artistic work is sought out to be illustrated as a symbol of Decadence. Freddie Mercury’s sexual orientation was never a straightforward matter. It is often attempted to link his songs to this ambiguous facet of his persona.Bigots and anti-gay groups have shamelessly parodied him for his sexual orientation. The simple fact is that he was a Rock Singer with unparalleled force and reach and his being a homosexual or a heterosexual doesn’t make him less of a great musician. Rightly did someone remark-Freddie Mercury didn’t become a legend when he died; he already was one!

Indian Government has recognized and felicitated people of Indian Origin settled abroad and people with partial Indian ancestry. Our government has also rewarded Padma awards to citizens of other nations for their contributions. Unfortunately, never in Freddie’s lifetime had the government thought of felicitating him, nor did our media pay any attention to this Indian Bloke who was singing powerful rock ballads and  playing on top of the charts in the other half of the world.”If he was alive,  he would probably have been felicitated with a Pravasi Bharatiya Samman” remarked Shashi Tharoor when I inquired about no Indian honorary recognition for Freddie Mercury. As a consequence of this non-recognition, most of Indians remain unenlightened of the fact that an Indian scion mastered great heights in the domain of Rock’n’Roll. We Indians keep searching for heroes and we genuinely relish the accomplishments of our fellow Indians anywhere on the planet. The awakening about Freddie’s Indian roots and his prodigious success can be a great source of celebration and inspiration to all Indians, who in many ways still continue to limit themselves.

24th November 2010 marks the 19th Death anniversary of Freddie Mercury.
29 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 8:46 am

    this is great!congrats, all it’s so clear that despite of the fact that i don’t speak english (so well) i understood every single word that you put there. he was great and he still be. i love Indian culture, and the music is fantastic, so thank you for let me read this. LIVE LONG TO FREDDIE MERCURY!

    • November 23, 2010 8:53 am


      • August 25, 2012 1:20 am

        I’m with you, Freddie vina

      • Georgie permalink
        September 20, 2012 11:46 pm

        Thanks Shrey for this beautifule article on Freddie!

  2. GALILEO permalink
    November 23, 2010 5:36 pm

    Freddie Mercury is a legend and the legens never dies!

    Is so hard without you my darling Freddie!

    Rest in peace in Heaven!

    Forever in my heart !

  3. Sidhartha Sinha permalink
    November 23, 2010 8:50 pm

    Nice one….

  4. November 23, 2010 10:16 pm


    You feel so attached to Freddie and I can see that 😛

    However it is indeed painful to see the neglect at the behest of the officials !!

    ‘He belonged to the generation born at the dusk of British Raj when high aspirations were greeted with innuendos of infeasibility and ridicule rather than optimism’ : Can’t be summed better… and we can see the children of Macalauyian still paying the price for absurd ideology which can put creativity to shame… He should be suitably awarded .

  5. Saurabh permalink
    November 23, 2010 10:57 pm

    He had an electric presence and an inspiring vocal punch.
    A true legend.

    Good work Shrey. Thumbs up.

  6. November 24, 2010 2:51 am

    You wrote a magnific text about the greatest music person ever.

  7. Karan permalink
    November 24, 2010 10:51 am

    I have to say that I was ‘made’ to read this 😛 but nonetheless, I liked it a lot… Indeed, Freddie was a brilliant musician and an entertainer unparalleled. He made India proud in a manner few could match. Not being given recognition by the Indian Govt. because of his sexual-orientation seems so farcical and shameful .
    Nevertheless, he’ll continue to live in the hearts and minds of the millions of his fans around the world.

  8. Faith permalink
    November 24, 2010 10:51 am

    What a nice tribute to an extremely gifted entertainer. Freddie AKA Faroukh will never be forgotten .

  9. November 24, 2010 6:14 pm

    Thanks for this tribute . should you visit freddie Mercury memorial in

    love him

  10. November 24, 2010 7:56 pm

    Freddie will be forever in our ears and our hearts!
    Thanks for this tribute 😉

  11. Dhanalakshmi permalink
    November 24, 2010 9:57 pm

    Very informative and very well written. I know so much more now 🙂
    And so perfectly timed as well!
    Loved your article as always 🙂

  12. FM4EVER permalink
    November 24, 2010 10:33 pm

    Great article. Would be great if you can post some videos from Youtube about Queen’s performances in Live Aid or some of their best known music videos.

  13. Dr Mike, MD permalink
    November 25, 2010 4:44 am

    Dear Shrey Vats.

    I must salute you for having written one of the best texts about a long lost hero of mine.

    Cheers and keep up the good work!

    Your “Soul Brother” (another Queen track)/

    Dr Mike, MD

    P.S. “I still love you.” (Unofficially also said to be written by Roger Taylor, although Queen songs dated later than 1989 are officially written by Queen.)

  14. Maxine permalink
    November 25, 2010 9:57 am

    Awesome job. This is beyond awesome. So happy what your doing 🙂

  15. Anonymous permalink
    November 25, 2010 11:24 am

    Freddie is def looking down on you with a lot of pride from heaven. He was the best!!

  16. IndianinUK permalink
    November 26, 2010 3:24 am

    Dear Shrey .. Very well written article indeed. Like you I am a great fan of Queen and their music. Being from almost the same generation as Freddie, and from Mumbai (so knowing Parsi cultre very well) and also living in england since many years now.. I can say that I have a varied pespective on this great musician.
    However, I do challenge your thoughts about felicitation of people of indian origin etc. I can see your feelings as an indian. But really, I am not very sure how ‘indian’ Freddie himself felt in his whirlwind of a short life after leaving india. I haven’t seen or read any expression of him which leads me to believe that he felt very proud of being someone of indian origin..or otherwise. For someone who migratd as a child and was brought up just past the flower child generation on a very wetsren high life of drugs and homosexuality..I am not sure Freddie felt anything more about India other than being a country where he spent some of his childhood.
    I feel felicitation and recognition of successful people of indian origin abroad, should be commensurate with how much those people feel about being emotionally close to india.
    Peace !

  17. December 4, 2010 10:29 pm

    love Freddie

  18. December 10, 2010 12:33 pm

    Amazing, marvelous post! Regards for posting about it.

  19. December 17, 2010 3:28 am

    awesome quote! thanks for sharing!

  20. Lily permalink
    June 23, 2011 12:29 pm

    Thanks for this lovely tribute to Freddie. Being a Parsee (originally from Bombay) myself, it really saddens me to see how this fantastic musician has not been recognised in his country, and even by his own community. Freddie Mercury – he rules and he reigns!

  21. James permalink
    July 31, 2012 3:55 am

    Dear Shrey,

    A beautiful and intelligent tribute to Freddie Mercury. Thank you. I remember hearing Bohemian Rhapsody as a student and being stunned by its brilliance. I hope that Indians will in future be able to embrace him as as one of the country’s truly great and remarkable sons.


  22. andy permalink
    August 4, 2012 2:34 am

    you have done the late great freddie justice . if he were still alive he would still be rocking the world, in fact he still is with all the great music he produced . long live queen and long live freddie in our memories and his music. he was and will always be the best front man a rock band has ever had.

  23. Thais Cristine permalink
    August 17, 2012 1:03 am

    Amei . uma homenagem linda, apesar de ter nascido em 1992 sou completamente apaixonada por Freddie Mercury ( Queen) as musicas são todas maravilhosas .. è uma pena :////

    Thais Cristine

  24. David Chatel permalink
    August 21, 2012 12:33 pm

    Excellent tribute to the “great man” of Rock, he will live on in our hearts and souls forever, and will be sorely missed by millions. R.I.P. Freddie (should be Sir Freddie Mercury)

  25. Martin permalink
    September 23, 2012 9:11 pm


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