martes, 6 de diciembre de 2011

The Legend of Freddie Mercury

     20 years ago, the evening of the 24th of November 1991, Freddie Mercury died in his home of Logan Place, in Kensington (London) The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia, resulting of AIDS. A little over 24 hours before his death, he made an announcement confirming that he had tested HIV positive and had AIDS.
     He was just only 45 years old... but he had lived intensely.

     Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), he always was proud of his Parsis origins. At St. Peter's School, a British-styled boarding school for boys in India, he changed his name to Freddie; and when he was working as a professional musician, he changed his surname to Mercury, in honor of Mercury, messenger of the gods.

     He got a diploma in Graphic Art and Design at college. In fact, he is the author of Queen's logo, using their birth signs: the Q-shaped loop with a crown represents Queen; lions for Roger Roger Taylor and John Deacon, both of them Leo; the crab for Brian May, Cancer; two fairies for Freddie himself, Virgo; and a bird, the Phoenix, because for him Queen was an inmortal band that would emerge from its ashes.

     In 1967, he met a band called Smile, with Brian May on the guitar and Roger Taylor on the drums. Later, they met John Deacon. In 1971, Queen was ready. They recorded 12 studio albums and they gave 708 concerts, being Freddie the leader.

     A year before, 1970, he met Mary Austin, his "only true friend", the woman of his life. They were together, as a couple, 6 years till he recognized her his bisexuality; but they nevertheless remained close friends through the years. Freddie said: "Love is the hardest thing to achieve and the only thing in this business  that can let you down the most" "I have built an inmense bond with Mary. She has gone through just about everything and always been there for me" "All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary, but it's simply impossible. The only friend I've got is Mary and I don't want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other. That's enough for me" Precious words of love.
     He also wrote several songs about her. The most notable of them is "Love of my Life"

     The most amazing party took place in 1978, at the ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans (USA) 400 guests were taken to the orgy of their lifes.  The party was called "Saturday Night in Sodom", actually. A group of dwarves entertained the guests with trays of Colombian cocaine over their heads. Naked waiters and waitresses served all kind of alcohol, lobsters, oysters, caviar, shrimp creole...
     Suddenly, like a giant circus orchestrated by a deranged ringmaster, a legion of strippers, vulgar fat-bottomed dancers, snake charmers, drag queens and bizarrely festooned revellers begin to strut their stuff before the assembled masses. Three obese women in g-strings do a pathetic bump and grind, and another female participant amused a small gaggle of outlookers by putting a cigarrete in an unlikely place.
     As Freddie said: "I'm not gonna be a star; I'm gonna be a legend"

     In 1983, Freddie met the last love of his life, an Irish hairdresser called Jim Hutton, who was by his side till he died. In his will, Freddie left him 500000 pounds and a plot to build a house in Ireland.
     To Mary, his London home, the vast majority of his wealth and his recording loyalties. Besides the love he felt for her, he was also the godfather of Mary's first son.

     In 1983, Freddie attended a performance of Verdi's "Un Ballo In Maschera" at the Royal Opera House. It was the first time he saw Spanish opera diva Monserrat Caballé and the sheer power and beauty of her voice mesmerized him.
     In 1987 he flew to Barcelona (Spain) to meet her. Although Mercury's speaking voice naturally fell in the baritone range, he delivered most songs in the tenor range. Finally, they recorded an album together, which most known song is called "Barcelona" Caballé expressed his opinion about Mercury: "The difference between Freddie and almost the others rock stars was that he was selling his voive. His technique was astonishing. No problem of tempo, he sung with an incisive sense of rythm, his vocal placement  was very good and he was able to glide effortlessly from a register to another" Freddie claimed never to have had any formal training.
     The day of his funeral, a red rose was over his coffin and "Barcelona" sounded during the ceremony. Later, this song would be chosen to represent the Olimpics Games of Barcelona '92.

     A statue in Montreaux (Switzerland), by Irena Sedlecka, has been erected as a tribute to Mercury. It was unveiled on 25 November 1996 by Freddie's father and Monserrat Caballé, which shows the great appreciation, admiration and affection that these two artists felt about each other.

     Freddie Mercury has been recognized as the all-times best singer by Bleder and MTV2; as the all-times best rock singer by Classic Rock; and "All Music" has defined him as one of the most charismatic and dinamic leaders in rock history. One thing is clear: he has become a great legend in the music world. His songs are part of the soundtrack of our lives. Don't you remember "We Are the Champions", listened in every single sport celebration... or "Bohemian Rhapsody" with its chores... or his "Somebody to Love", where gospel sounds throw questions to heaven waiting no answers...?

     I could write and write about Mercury and it won't never ever be enough. Without him, a genius disappeared, a flamboyant stage personality who lived in the body of a very shy and retiring man in person. His body disappeared but his soul is among us and we'll always remind him by his great songs and his powerful strength on stage.

     He always wanted to live forever, to be inmortal, and he got it.

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