Killer king on stage, humble inside

“The only thing more extraordinary then their music is his history,” says a motto of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, a new biopic movie about the legendary Queen. It is released 27 years after the death of Freddie Mercury.  This film introduces an epic life story of the solo-singer to a completely new generation of music fans.

An extremely confident man appears in front of a countless crowd, smiling and dancing. The public, it goes crazy. The whole stadium sings along to every single word of every single song. A person who gives definition to words show, Artist, flamboyant persona, charisma, and dedication comes on stage. He communicates with 82 000 people as if each of them was his friend. His name is Freddie Mercury. Everyone knows him like that, a bold and fearless man who was doing crazy things on stage. But what was the real Freddie without all of this tinsel and pathos?

Born to Parsi parents in Zanzibar 5 September 1946 he was named Farrokh Bulsara, which means “happy”. A future world star spent most of his childhood in Zanzibar where he began to take piano lessons when he was only 7. A few years later his family had to run from Zanzibar to England to avoid religious and political prosecution. In London, a young boy went to an Art college where he received a diploma of Graphic design. All these life adventures left a mark on his personality. In fact, Freddie Mercury was a dangerous mix of Eastern religious traditions and values, a completely different Western culture that he perceived after moving to England and, on the top of that, a brilliant higher education. In the long run, we get a mix of an extraordinary and passionate person who is very interesting to look at. “I don`t think there were 1 or 2 Freddies. Freddie was a mix of many different characters that put together made him unique,” says the owner of one of the biggest fan pages (56 000 followers) of Freddie on Instagram.

Freddie Mercury`s offstage persona was the opposite to the on-stage one. He was a very shy man with quite a few complexes. For example, one could easily notice that he always covered his upper teeth with his hand. In his childhood, boys teased him because of his strange smile, which led to this childish trauma. Apart from that, it`s very interesting to analyze his lyrics as it is where he was free to express his “real self”. A legendary song “Bohemian Rhapsody” serves as the best example: “I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy/ Because I’m easy come, easy go, little high, little low”. A bright star on stage, he was a philatelist in a real life, which describes perfectly his offstage personality. It is known that he spent lots of earned money on the rare stamps. Once Freddie said in an interview: “My character on stage is totally different to what I`m offstage. I can be really boring, but most people, when they meet me, they`re quite disillusioned by fact that they just expect me to do what I do on stage. But I`d like people to realize that I`m a human being and can be vulnerable, just like a real baby.

Nevertheless, the press was booming with absolutely insane stories about the singer throughout all his life. The media kept telling that Freddie organized cruises with gay orgies where the dwarfs were spreading cocktails. They were constantly publishing rumors of how strongly he was consumed by drugs, crazy drunk parties, and about endless Freddie`s lovers. Later on, Freddie will write a song called “Scandal” about the pressure, his relations with the press and how the media turned his life into a living hell. In fact, though, a “We Will Rock You” performer lived in London in a mansion with a big fence that helped him hide from publicity. He adored cats and had as many as 10 of them. Freddie even wrote a song about his favorite cat Deliah! To write an extremely complicated “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a love song to a cat, this is what Freddie Mercury was really all about.

That Freddie without lights and cameras on was very humble and caring. He rarely talked about his personal life in order to protect the loved ones from the devastating media tales. But even when he did, he was telling only good things about them. There was confirmed only one long-time relationship of Freddie. It was with a woman called Mary Austin. The singer claimed that she was the love of his life even after they broke up. “I don`t have many people to turn to. The only one is Mary who`s been a girlfriend of mine for a long time”, the rock star says in one of his interviews.

Except for this, Freddie was famous for being a true friend. The Queen was a perfect example of a 20 years steady loyalty and constant support. They were very close and knew each other very well. “Freddie had a very responsible attitude to everyone he was close to. He was a very generous and caring person to all the people who came through his life,” Brian May, the lead guitarist, once said. And he didn`t lie. Generosity, indeed, was Freddie`s distinctive feature. The charismatic singer did a lot of charities but wanted them to rest unknown, and only after his death these donations became revealed. His close friends, in turn, claim that when he went to buy something, he`d usually come back with presents for everyone, including even the cleaning ladies!

During his last years, a prominent singer received a letter from the fan who had spinal cancer and waited for an operation. Freddie immediately sent him lots of gifts, including a sketch he had drawn of “Queen”. After that, he phoned the fan and told funny stories about his life. At this point in time, Freddie was already seriously ill but took time to cheer up a young girl. “He gave me the courage to face yet another operation on my spine,” says the fan, “I`m now confined to a wheelchair but I always feel like getting up to dance when I hear a Queen song,”.

Freddie always tried to make everything in his well-known perfectionism. He demanded the best results from Queen both while performing or making songs in the studio because the bar of quality was extremely high indeed. Before a show, he had to be not interrupted, so he could concentrate. Once he put a foot on the stage and heard the people crying, he converted. “I feel like he was a very organic artist. For example, he was fascinated by the opera but at the same was dreaming about making heavy rock compositions more complicated and dramatic”, says Ivan Bogdanov, the Art director and conductor of the Bortnyansky choir.

Freddie Mercury had, and still has, an enormous impact on people with all he did, how he performed or expressed himself. While the media and haters missed out the point of what exactly he looked like, the singer kept being shy, gentle and kind person off-stage. It seems that he accomplished in his short 45 years of life far more than many would have, had they been given 5 lifetimes.

Diana Kravets