1946 - 1991

"When I'm dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance."

- Freddie Mercury

Born in 1946 to Bombay-born Parsi parents living in Zanzibar, Farrokh Bulsara’s musical talent first revealed itself during his early years as a pupil at an English-style boarding school in India. It was at St. Peter’s School, Panchgani that he anglicised his name to Freddie. The violent Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, during which thousands were slaughtered, sent the Bulsaras running for their lives to England, where relatives took them in. Freddie studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Ealing College of Art, graduating in 1969 at the age of 23. His adoration of Jimi Hendrix led him to join a series of bands. The most promising, Smile, metamorphosed into Queen. It was then that he abandoned his family name for the surname ‘Mercury’. His distinctive baritone voice, his ability to extend his three-octave vocal range with a variety of vibrato and distortion techniques, his strutting, seductive showmanship and his ability to connect with his audience made him one of the most thrilling rock performers of all time. Musically diverse, courageous and endlessly experimental, Queen’s studio albums showcased a string of songs that both confounded and celebrated all genres. Every member of the band wrote hits. Freddie penned ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, ‘We Are the Champions’, ‘Killer Queen’.  ‘Radio Ga Ga’ was drummer Roger Taylor’s. ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and ‘You’re My Best Friend’ were bassist John Deacon’s, while guitarist Brian May wrote ‘We Will Rock You’. In 1985, as part of a superstar line-up, Freddie and Queen stole the show at Live Aid, the global-jukebox fundraiser for African famine relief. Always private about his sexuality and personal relationships, Freddie never came out during his lifetime. Wishing to be remembered for his music alone, he chose not to announce his HIV diagnosis. He spent the final months of his life as a recluse, nursed by close friends. On November 23 1991, he admitted in a statement that he had AIDS, and died the next day, aged 45. The Great Pretender lives on in the hearts, minds and memories of millions.

Plaque Sponsor

Paul Highfield and Ronald Puskarits, Paul Desousa and Patrick F. Torres, Elizabeth Liechty, Karen Rilke and Roger Dubbs, Kit and Jo Welch and Shannon Cunningham


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Asian/Pacific Rim

Nations Affiliated United Kingdom Tanzania India

Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present) Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution


Commemorations & Honors

Queen Received Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music (1990)

Mercury Received Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music (1992)

Statue of Mercury Erected in Montreux, Switzerland Overlooking Lake Geneva by Sculptor Irena Sedlecká (1996)

UK postal Service's Millennium Stamp Series Featured Royal Mail Stamp With Mercury on Stage (1999)

Posthumous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee as a Member of Queen (2001)

Posthumous Hollywood Walk of Fame Star as a Member of Queen for Recording (2002)

Posthumous Songwriters Hall of Fame as a Member of Queen the First Band to be Given This Honor (2003)

Posthumous UK Music Hall of Fame as a Member of Queen Inductee (2004)

Bohemian Rhapsody Inducted Into the Grammy Hall of Fame (2004)

We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions Inducted Into the Grammy Hall of Fame (2009)

Google Doodle Commemorating Mercury's 65th Birthday (2011)

Tribute to Queen and Mercury Took Place During the 2012 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony in London

English Heritage Blue Plaque Unveiled at Mercury's Home 22 Gladstone Avenue in Feltham, West London by his Sister Kashmira Cooke and Brian May (2016)

Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury Named After Mercury on the 70th Anniversary of his Birth (2016)

Queen Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2018)

San Francisco Rainbow Honor Walk Honoree (2019)


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Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Biography Vetted, Edited, and Certified By
Lesley-Ann Jones
Image Rights Usage Granted By
Courtesy of Getty Images
Image Source for Bronze Casting
Dave Hogan at Hulton Archive
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell