Remembrance Day for Freddie Mercury
by Elizabeth Menon

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Remembrance Day for Freddie Mercury

Today we remember Freddie Mercury, the 22nd Anniversary of the day we lost the Mercurial legend at the age of 45 years, but I like to think of this day as his ‘Remembrance Day’! November 24 is always a sad day for all music lovers, especially for those who love Freddie Mercury and 'Queen'. Freddie Mercury is the ‘First Rock Star' from India’, but perhaps this is the least known fact about one of the most talented artists of all times, whose untimely demise shattered the whole world in 1991. Some of us cried when it happened, many shocked and numb with grief, while a sense of emptiness engulfed most his ardent fans. World lost one of its brightest stars and Bomi and Jer lost their beloved son. We lost the Star with the 'Mercurial touch', who left us with these words, "I still love you"! It happened on 24 November, two days after JFK’s assassination, only the year was different --1991!

For most people the name of the band 'Queen' brings only one name to the forefront, Freddie Mercury, the band's lead singer, because he is 'Queen'! Freddie was the driving force behind the formation of the group 'Queen', with the three other quite distinct individuals, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, who also wrote 'Queen's songs, but Freddie wrote most of them, including the all time best, 'Bohemian Rhapsody! Of course, it was not the first time Freddie was part of a band -- 'The Hectics' was the name of the band he and his friends formed at his old public school in Poona. While waiting for Queen's debut single, 'Under pressure', Freddie released 'I can hear Music' under the pseudonym 'Larry Lurex', which is a collector's item now!

Bomi Bulsara, his father, who was in the Civil Service was posted in Zanzibar in the forties and Farokh Bulsara was born there on 5 September 1946, where his parents Bomi Bulsara and Jer Bulsara lived. Young Farokh studied in Zanzibar till the age of eight and then moved to Bombay.  'Freddie', to his friends and family, spent the rest of his childhood in Bombay, and studied at St. Peter's, a public school in Panchgani, a beautiful hill station near Poona. His first exposure to classics and opera was in a city that was a musical melting pot. His family encouraged him to excel in music and art and he received the 'All Rounder' award at St. Peter’s for his achievements. Indian Music and the legendary Kishore Kumar and Latha Mangeshkar and the vivid colours of Zanzibar had great influence on the young Freddie, which were crucial to the wonderful, inimitable style, associated with Freddie Mercury, and of course, 'Queen'! Freddie's wide artistic horizons drew him to classical music, opera and the ballet, and therefore, the operatic 'Barcelona' that Freddie did with the famous Soprano Montserrat Caballe, and the eternal classic 'Bohemian Rhapsody' came as no surprise. Of course, his first moment of fame came at the age of one, when his smiling photograph captured the first prize at a 'Baby show' in Zanzibar!

The fantastic voyage started with ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’ and 'Keep yourself Alive' in 1973, spanning over 20 years to record 'Days of Our Lives' in 1991. And 'Bohemian Rhapsody' happened to the music world in 1975! This operatic rock explosion bombarded the airwaves for weeks, which brought stardom to Queen and the 'King of Rockdom' was born -- 'Bo Rhap' was the first ever single to be re-released and get to 'Number one' again! ‘Crazy Little thing called Love, Who Wants to Live forever, radio Ga Ga, Another One Bites the Dust, A Kind of magic, Innuendo, Pain is Close to Pleasure, and These are the Days of Our Lives' are few of the songs, which will never lose their magic.

The word 'Super Stardom' becomes a matter of fact when used for 'Queen' – but then, Freddie Mercury is 'Queen'. The three very talented artists, Brian, Roger and John continue separately without Freddie; but there is no 'Queen' without Freddie. His music transcended barriers of language, race, religion and politics, appealing to all, rich and poor, young and old. He was a writer, musician and above all, a wonderful performer. The light has gone but his music and memories will live forever, just as vibrant. A small town in London, Feltham, celebrated the musical brilliance of the inimitable Freddie Mercury on his 18th Anniversary by unveiling the 'The Mercury Memorial Star' on Feltham High Street -- a 'Hollywood Walk of Fame-style' celebration, attended by his mother, Jer Bulsara; his sister, Kashmira and Brian May.

Freddie said good-bye to us in that heart-wrenching song, “These are the days of our lives…” with these words, “I still love you”! I join all those who love his music, to say, 'We love you Freddie and thank you for your beautiful music'! Our thoughts are with his mother, Jer Bulsara and his sister, Kashmira (His father Bomi Bulsara passed away in 2003), and of course, Brian, Roger and John.

May his soul RIP!

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© E Menon



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