Hi, I am Adam Lambert, and I am so honored to tell Freddie’s story and to bring the music of Queen to audiences around the world.
Rock legend Freddie Mercury was a singer, songwriter and pianist who is best known as the front man for the band Queen. Freddie was born in Zanzibar on September 5, 1946. He grew up in India and moved to the UK in 1964.
Early in his music career, he sold second-hand clothing and was an airport baggage handler while singing with a series of bands until forming Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.
Praised by Roger Daltry, lead singer of The Who, as “the best virtuoso rock ‘n roll singer of all time,” Freddie Mercury was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal
range. As a songwriter, he wrote 10 of the 17 songs on the band’s Greatest Hits album, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” the rock anthem “We Are the Champions,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and the rockabilly hit “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Other Queen hits include “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Under Pressure,” a collaboration with David Bowie.
The band was famous for its live concerts, including an unforgettable performance at Live Aid in 1985, and broke records with the size of its audiences. Queen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. The band sold over 300 million records.
The citation for Queen in the Rock Hall of Fame proclaims that, “In the golden era of glam rock and gorgeously hyper-produced theatrical extravaganzas that defined one branch of ’70s rock, no group came close in either concept or execution to Queen.”
Freddie publicly admitted to having gay sexual experiences and had a series of romantic relationships with both men and women, and described himself as bi-sexual. His larger-than-life stage persona contrasted with a shy, sensitive personality when not performing. And he rarely granted interviews.
Rumors that Mercury was sick with AIDS began in 1986 and dogged him for the rest of his life, although his HIV positive diagnosis was actually in 1987. He became increasingly thin, and the band stopped touring. His final performance with Queen was in 1986, and his last public performance was in Barcelona in 1988.
In 1990, the band was in Switzerland recording Innuendo, their last album with Freddie. Freddie was committed to recording as many vocal tracks as possible while he still had the energy to do so – an incredible feat of creativity and powerful vocals, even as his body was failing.
In an interview with Express, Brian May recalled Freddie’s recording of the song “The Show Must Go On”:
“When I gave him the final version to sing, it was like taking the lid off a bottle that was about to explode.”
The song includes these haunting lyrics:
“I’ll soon be turning, round the corner now
Outside the dawn is breaking
But inside in the dark I’m aching to be free
The show must go on
The show must go on
Inside my heart is breaking
My makeup may be flaking
But my smile, still, stays on.”
On November 23, 1991, he issued his first public admission of his illness:
“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.”
Freddie Mercury died the very next day, at age 45.