September 5 – Happy Birthday, Freddie Mercury

Posted on September 5, 2014

We will, we will rock you! [thump-thump-THUMP]

We are the champions, my friends,
And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end...

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide...
No escape from reality!

If you recognize these song lyrics, then you know the work of Farrokh Bulsara, born on this date in 1946 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar.

But you probably don't know the name Farrokh Bulsara!

Instead, we know him by his stage name: Freddie Mercury.

Zanzibar was located in Africa (it's now part of Tanzania) and was a British protectorate. Mercury grew up in Zanzibar and another British colony, India, which is where his parents were from. The family practiced the Zoroastrian religion, which is an ancient Persian religion. Mercury himself practiced the piano. A lot! As a teenager, he could listen to a song on the radio and then replicate it on the piano. While going to school in India, Mercury started a band, adopted the name “Freddie,” and played his favorite sort of music: rock and roll.

In 1964, Zanzibar underwent a revolution, and many Arab and Indian people were killed. The Bulsara family fled for their safety and relocated to England. Mercury went to college in London and earned a diploma in art and graphic design; he then joined a series of bands while holding down two part time jobs.

When Mercury joined forces with a guitarist and drummer from a band called Smile, he changed his last name from Bulsara to Mercury, and he named his new band Queen.

Mercury used his art skills to create this logo.
The band ended up being a huge success, with number one hits and international recognition. By the early 1980s, Queen was one of the biggest bands in the world, known as a stadium rock band because concerts were held in large arenas and sports stadiums. 

Some of Queen's songs include “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” These songs have been used in movies and ads and sporting events. 

Queen is one of the most bootlegged bands ever, and the Guinness Book of World Records claimed in 2005 that the band spent more time on the UK Album Charts than any other musical act. (More than the Beatles? Wow.) Their Greatest Hits album was the all-time best-selling album in UK Chart history. Finally, their performance at 1985's Live Aid is regarded by some as one of the greatest performances in rock history.

Unfortunately, Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991, cutting short a great musical career.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the killing of Crazy Horse

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