The eccentric Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, with his distinguished high-pitched songs and incredible stage performance, would have been 67 on Thursday.
The British rocker died in 1991 of complications related to AIDS, just one day after he publicly revealed his battle with the terminal disease.
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Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, is known for hitting extraordinarily high notes in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Somebody to Love,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “We Are the Champions,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “Radio Ga Ga” and performed with Queen for more than three decades. Mercury's voice spanned four octaves, and he never had any formal vocal training.
Widely considered one of the greatest singers of all time, here are a few things you may not know about the rocker:
- "Borat" star Sacha Baron Cohen was tapped to play Mercury in a biopic, but he pulled out due to "creative differences" with the band. According to Deadline.com, Cohen wanted a gritty, R-rated portrayal of Mercury's life, while the band wanted to keep the film G-rated. Cohen and the group also disagreed about who should direct the film and write the script.
- Mercury was the first major rock star to die of AIDS, and his diagnosis helped raise awareness about the disease at a time when it was a mystery to doctors and the public. Members of Queen and manager Jim Beach founded the widely successful AIDS charity Mercury Phoenix Trust in 1992. The Trust has educated people all over the world about the disease and raised more than $15 million for hundreds of projects in the global battle against HIV/AIDS, targeting developing nations.
- Queen almost broke up two or three years after they started. "We felt it wasn't working, there were too many sharks in the business, and it was all getting too much for us. But something inside kept us going, and we learned from our experiences, good and bad," he said, according to his biography "Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury."
- Mercury was reportedly self-conscious about his piano playing abilities and dreaded performing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in concert because he worried he would mess up, according to Clash magazine. In future years, he started using the piano less frequently on albums so he would be free to dance and run wildly during concerts.
- Mercury was a cat lover who often called home while on tour to talk to them. His long-time close friend Mary Austin would hold his cats up to the phone so they could hear him speak. He also had portraits painted of them.
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