Freddie Mercury was rock’s most dazzling showman, a legendary entertainer who in 1991, at the age of just forty-five, became the first major music star to die of AIDS. Mercury’s soaring four-octave voice was a defining element in Queen’s unique sound, crucial to the success of the band’s fifteen studio albums, from Queen (1973) to Made in Heaven (1995). He was also a supremely talented songwriter and musician who wrote many of the band’s greatest hits, including ‘Killer Queen’, ‘We Are the Champions’ and their biggest triumph, the epic anthem ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. As a solo artist he released two acclaimed albums: Mr. Bad Guy in 1985 and the operatic Barcelona with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé in 1988.
Mercury’s extraordinary charisma was perhaps best seen in his imperious live performances, in which he’d hold vast stadium crowds to rapturous attention. His outrageous theatrics, physicality and over-the-top costumes led one commentator to describe him as ‘a performer out to tease, shock, and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself’. He pushed the limits of camp in everything he did. His extreme behaviour, in a society in which being gay was only starting to be accepted, just added to Freddie Mercury’s allure.
With expert understanding, Mark Blake traces Mercury’s life from his childhood in Zanzibar and India to his untimely death, and charts his astonishing achievements including in Queen’s world-conquering performance at Live Aid in 1985.
In the year that marks what would have been his seventieth birthday, Freddie Mercury: An Illustrated Life celebrates a remarkable life, lived to the fullest. Featuring revealing interviews with fellow musicians, producers and collaborators, many rare and stunning photographs and a detailed discography and timeline, this is a memorable tribute to a unique recording artist and an irreplaceable performer who rocked the world.