Freddie Mercury - One Of The Most Talented Male Vocalist In The History Of Recorded Music
Freddie Mercury was one of the most talented male vocalist of the twentieth century, and besides that - he was also one of the most respected and commercially acceptable male vocalist to have ever lived. A lot of people can't truly fathom it here in the Americas, but in England, Freddie's band, Queen, is regarded and adored at levels exceeding that of the band that most Americans would think the English should like best, The Beatles.
Freddie has lived and he has now gone from us - but he left us a legacy to appreciate, and that is what I do. His vocal range surpassed four octaves- technically astounding, his fame - long-standing and undiminished, his league of adoring fans - still growing. One of the very first well known tragedies of the AIDS virus, Freddie Mercury - you were one hell of a talent.
A Very Young Freddie Mercury
The Life Of Freddie Mercury
Farrokh Bulsara (Gujarati: ફારોખ બલ્સારા), 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) - and otherwise known as Freddie Mercury, was born in Tanzania - the least likely of places for a major pop or rock star to be born. Tanzania, of course, is in East Africa, but the family moved to India, and that is where our Freddie would spend the majority of his childhood. At seven years of age Freddie was taking piano lessons, and at eight years of age he was attending a British themed and ran boarding school which would allow him to later on transition to becoming a proper subject of the Queen. Twelve years of age saw the person that would become known as Freddie Mercury - forming a band, clearly his musical inclination was a dominant trait and a dominant paradigm in his life from an early age, and who can argue that he wasn't the natural showman? Well nobody can - that is who.
It was at the British boarding school, St. Peter's, that he'd began to refer to himself and prefer that others call him "Freddie," and of course at such a Western institution the name would stick. He'd transition on upwards in the ladder of education to St. Mary's School, and he'd graduate from there while living with his grandmother and an aunt.
The 1964 Zanzibar Revolution, for whatever reason caused a healthy fear in the lives of the family of the man that would become known to the entire planet as Freddie Mercury, and had they not fled their homes, who can say what may have happened. It is best not to look back - and especially not after success, and the death of the subject, and so no bother about that.
Freddie's family would immigrate to Middlesex, England, and please and thank you for foregoing the jokes about sexual inclinations and the name of the town. Freddie would enrol in college, become a British citizen, graduate from Ealing Art College, - and in time, the entire British Empire and half, or more, of her colonies throughout the world, and then the other nations - would all learn his name, and know that he was an absolutely astounding and talented vocalist with one of the largest ranges of technical ability in singing that the recorded world of music would ever come to know.
Post graduation Freddie would sell second hand clothes at Kensington Market, be a part of two forgotten, except for Freddie's history, local bands, and then he'd meet in 1970 a guitarist that would help them both to become stars forever, Brian May, a man to this day known for the absolutely unique and special sound that he'd conjure from his mix of guitar, equipment, and studio.
Master Vocalist - Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury - Selling The Voice
Freddie Mercury knew that he had something special, and so he used what he had to the best of his ability. We each of us have something special about us - gifts from the creator, if you are humble enough to only see it that way, and perhaps Freddie DID see it that way - but regardless, he did use what he had to the best of his ability - and besides a flair for showmanship and song writing, what Freddie Mercury truly had that was above and beyond - special in every way, was his amazing vocal abilities.
Though he spoke naturally in a baritone range of tone - he'd most often sing in tenor. His range was astounding, amazing, and so far as I'm aware, totally unique and that range was extended from an F (F2) to an F (F6). He could belt up to a high F (F5). Now this is technical jargon that most won't understand - but the entire point is that he could hit notes and hold them while singing at highs and lows that nobody else could - and they'd be crystal clear vocal notes...for about as long as he'd decide to hold the notes, and that, my friends, isn't done by anyone, and probably has been done by very few in the past.
Nuances - a subtle little word that belies a great deal. I'm not a big follower of singers, but Freddie Mercury wasn't just some "random singer." The vocals of Freddie Mercury were often so nuanced as to boggle the mind and as Queen's career progressed, he would increasingly alter the highest notes of their songs when live, often harmonising with seconds, thirds or fifths instead. Mercury was said to have "the rawest vocal fold nodules" and claimed never to have had any formal vocal training. Many recordings exist ...and more can be downloaded on the peer to peer file sharing torrent networks. There was exactly one Freddie Mercury, and that is all that there ever will be.
As a song writer, Freddie Mercury excelled too, and he personally penned seventeen of Queen's greatest hits. Some of the most well known and most loved songs in the history of English language recorded music were penned by Freddie, and despite how well we Americans know and love them, the English love them even more, and know a ton of the ones that don't get played here on Rupert Murdoch radio land. Besides all of that, Freddie Mercury wasn't the slightest bit restrained in, well, anything - he'd pen songs in multiple genres, and they'd all wind up good, the dominant accepted labels for styles he'd used included but are not limited to, rockabilly, progressive rock, heavy metal, gospel and disco.
Freddie seemed able to create music that was vastly complex with multitudes of chord changes, and on the same damned album, make hits that were very basic three chord ditties - all of them featuring the explicitly wide vocal gymnastics within the four octaves, and highly nuanced phrasing he'd use.
Freddie Mercury Interview
Freddie Mercury With Mary Austin, And Child
Elaine Page with Freddie Mercury in Montreux
Freddie Mercury With Barbara Valentin
Freddie With Jim Hutton, and a Geisha
Freddie Mercury -The Performer And In Life
Freddie Mercury was known for his ability to draw in an audience, and solicit their participation his performances- surely, the band Queen was one of the most highly acclaimed stage acts in history, and they'd break world records for concert attendance in South America. What is so hilarious to me about the phenomenon that was Freddie Mercury, is how folks couldn't seem to wrap their heads around the notion that the man was very publicly bisexual. Freddie would say that he was as gay as a daffodil and and even say that he was "tri sexual" - he'd try anything. Perhaps this was just Freddie being a bit of a performer even in interviews, and he didn't do many interviews because his true self was not the personality portrayed on stage - that was business, and artistic expression - and maybe to Freddie it was ....for lack of a better description, similar to an orgasm. When you have got it out of you - you're done for the moment, and can get back to other aspects and complexities of living the human life.
Maybe things were truly different in Western Culture during those years - and Freddie's bisexuality wasn't acceptable at all to the majority of his fans? I don't know how they could have missed it, but people will so often see what they want to see as some sort of defensive mechanism, and that allows them to remain comfortable with their own biases. If that isn't the case - the other thing could be that persons just took from Freddie the impressions and notions that they found to be most positive. I'm not so into being judgemental as I once was myself - and literally, I don't care that Freddie was bisexual.
He loved Mary Austin, and she'd inherit his fortune when he'd die - he'd famously stated that she was his only true friend, and love is timeless, after all. We all do make mistakes, we are only human, and Freddie's libertine ways were a mistake that he'd have to live with, and in the end, die with too. Said Freddie of Mary:
"All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary [Austin], 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."
So Freddie Mercury was also gay - and how that could have been missed, whatever. I don't know how it wouldn't be apparent after seeing Freddie on stage or in interviews, or actually bothering to listen to the things he'd say, but the criticism for Freddie's silence concerning his HIV positive state is, to me, totally unfair. Freddie came down with AIDS at a time when the public was terrified of it, and how the hell anyone could think that Freddie wasn't also terrified, is beyond me. Of course he knew he was dying, and of course the famous thing about his death was that he'd never told anyone what was wrong with his health until the very day before he'd die. I recall those things myself, but not too well. I was a child then, and homosexuality was the most bizarre notion in the world to me. Mercury was quoted the day before he'd pass as follows:
"Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors, and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue"
I've no political statements to make here. I'm not a bisexual, and I don't care should you be one. I know what it is like to have a female best friend, and so did the great Freddie Mercury, and to me it is touching that Mary had cared for him as best as she could as he was dying and as he'd die. I'm not the biggest Queen fan you'll meet...nowhere near it, but I've got a favourite Queen song, and you'll soon see it. It would be hard to imagine my own childhood without Freddie Mercury having been in it, and the near righteous head bobbing and fist pumping I'd done with Wayne and With Garth, and with Freddie's glorious Bohemian Rhapsody. We've all got a best friend, and and as we are all connected, the following song is my connection to perhaps the male vocalist with the greatest talent and technique in all of history.
Queen - You're My Best Friend!
© 2012 Wesman Todd Shaw