Freddie Mercury: 30 surprising facts about the Queen singer
How accurate was the Bohemian Rhapsody movie? Here are some surprising facts about Queen’s Freddie Mercury, which may have not been reflected in the movie.
We’ve put together 30 life facts about Freddie Mercury, shining a light on what the movie Bohemian Rhapsody may have missed, fictionalised or got exactly right.
1. Freddie Mercury isn’t his birth name
He was actually born Farrokh Bulsara. He legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury when he became the lead singer of Queen in 1970.
2. He is British and born in Zanzibar
Despite popular belief that Freddie Mercury is English, he was actually born in Zanzibar, which is now part of Tanzania. He then spent the majority of his childhood in India. It’s important to note, that at that time, it would also make him of British nationality.
3. He was Parsi and his family practice Zoroastrian religion
His family religion was Parsi, which is a following in India of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster. When he passed away in 1991, a Zoroastrian priest delivered the funeral service.
4. Freddie Mercury started to play piano when he was seven years old
The star showed an interest in music from an early age and it wasn’t long before his talents became known.
5. When he was 12, he joined a school band in India
While he was at boarding school in Panchgani, Maharashtra, he was in a school band called The Hectics.
6. Freddie Mercury moved to England as a teenager
When he was in his late teens, he moved to Middlesex, England, with his family.
7. Freddie Mercury’s teeth were protruded because he had more teeth than usual
He had four extra teeth at the back of his mouth which pushed the rest forward, hence his protruded front teeth. Despite his insecurity, he never had them straightened or fix as he was worried it would change his voice.
8. Freddie Mercury had a degree in Art and Graphic Design
Mercury earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, which is now part of the University of West London. It was with the talents he had here that he designed the famous Queen crest logo.
9. Before he came out, he had a long-term relationship with girlfriend Mary Austin
In the early 1970s, Mercury was with his live-in girlfriend Mary Austin and they even got engaged. The movie portrayed this and they split when he came out as bisexual, and she responded by telling him he’s gay. After he came out, she remained a dear friend and was a big part of his will after he passed away. She received his property, much of his money and his royalties.
10. He used to collect stamps
Indeed, he was a philatelist. Mercury used to collect stamps from countries all over the world. His collection included many from the British Empire and Eastern Europe.
11. Freddie Mercury was a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport
Before he was a world-famous star, Mercury had a humble job as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport.
12. He had a shy personality
Despite Freddie Mercury’s incredible show performances, he was known to be a shy and humble person. He often avoided interviews, and those who knew him also described him as such (see quote below).
13. Freddie Mercury formed Queen with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor
In 1970, May met Mercury when he was a fan in the crowd as he performed. May said, “I was first introduced to Freddie Mercury—a paradoxically shy yet flamboyant young man—at the side of the stage at one of our early gigs as the group ‘SMILE.’ He told me he was excited by how we played, he had some ideas—and he could sing! I’m not sure we took him very seriously, but he did have the air of someone who knew he was right.”
14. He wrote dozens of songs, including 10 out of 17 songs on Queen’s greatest hits album
Mercury wrote the great hits: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Bicycle Race,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Somebody to Love,” “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy,” “We Are the Champions,” “Seven Seas of Rhye” and “Play the Game.”
15. His iconic ‘bottomless mic’ started as an accident
His mic snapped in half mid-show, so Mercury continued to sing with it, deciding that he rather liked the look. He continued to use a bottomless mic from that moment in his early career onwards.
16. Freddie Mercury appeared on the BBC’s greatest Britons list
He was voted number 59 on BBC’s poll of the 100 greatest Britons.
17. Freddie Mercury wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in the bath
The creative star was in a hotel bathtub when he felt inspired. It’s said that he then had a piano brought to him in the tub so he could start to compose the music.
18. He knew the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a risk
As portrayed in the movie, having a song nearly six minutes long was extremely unconventional and a risk that the Queen members were aware of. As we know today, the risk paid off extremely well.
19. There’s been a statue of him in Switzerland since 1996
Switzerland is a huge fan of Mercury. The country unveiled a three metre high statue of him overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland.
20. He is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
In 2001, he along with all other members of Queen entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If anything, we’re surprised he wasn’t recognised sooner.
21. Freddie Mercury wrote all the songs on his first solo album
Mr Bad Guy was released in 1985 and it contained 11 of his original songs.
22. He was a huge cat lover
Freddie Mercury LOVED cats and was a proud owner of several felines.
23. Freddie Mercury worked with Michael Jackson
They recorded several tracks together in 1983 including “Victory” and “There Must Be More To Life Than This.”
24. He collaborated with Dave Clark for a London West End musical
In 1986, the pair collaborated for the recording of West End show Time.
25. Freddie Mercury was listed on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
In 2009, the magazine ranked him number 18.
26. Freddie Mercury started a homosexual relationship with Jim Hutton in 1985
He started a long-term relationship with hairdresser Jim Hutton who was with him for the six years until Mercury passed away.
27. Freddie Mercury tested positive for HIV/AIDS
In October 1986, a newspaper reported that he was tested positive at the Harley Street clinic in London, however when questioned, Mercury denied he had the illness. Hutton later told the press that the diagnoses actually came in spring of 1987.
28. Partner Jim Hutton tested positive for HIV in 1990
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While nursing Mercury during his last years, live-in partner Hutton also tested positive for the virus.
29. Freddie Mercury tragically died from AIDS in 1991
The legend passed away in London at the age of only 45. It was November 24, 1991.
30. In his will, he left his possessions to his lovers, family and workers (including his driver and chef)
As mentioned, Mercury left most of his wealth to his ex-girlfriend and long-time friend Mary Austin. He also left a lot to family members and £500,000 to his live-in partner Jim Hutton. Surprisingly, he also gave £500,000 to his chef, bodyguard and assistant. His driver also received a generous amount of £100,000.
And one extra fact about the Bohemian Rhapsody movie…
Sacha Baron Cohen was originally meant to portray Freddie Mercury but he walked away from the opportunity due to creative differences.