Freddie Mercury left a huge hole in the music industry when he died 30 years ago today on November 24, 1991 – and he still hasn’t been surpassed for personality and charism, argues James Brinsford
The year that Paul Simon was writing “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts” for his Graceland album, Freddie Mercury was showing the world why he will be remembered for all time.
It was 1985 and as Simon recorded in apartheid-era South Africa, Freddie was standing at the front of the stage in Wembley Stadium with the crowd in the palm of his hands and 1.9 billion viewers at home enthralled by his performance as lead singer of Queen.
Live Aid has often been hailed as Queen and Freddie’s greatest moment, when he stole a show featuring every big name in music at the time.
Just six short years later though, the rambunctious Freddie succumbed to an AIDS-related illness that had slowly ravaged his body, away from the public eye.
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When it was announced just a day before his death that he was terminally ill, there was a collective holding of breath as it was clear that Freddie was not going to live forever after all.
His death hit fans hard – my best friend didn’t leave his house until he had listened to all Queen’s albums, in order, and including the slightly dubious jazz phase.
Thirty years on and Freddie is still here, and that’s testament to his true god-like status that has carried him towards the accolade of being the best ever.
Since he launched Bohemian Rhapsody on unsuspecting ears in the mid-70s, Freddie has proved that he is the most charismatic band frontman to have performed on stage.
Yes, some singers have their moment and each movement since from 2-Tone to Britpop and beyond has given us someone who we’ve taken to our hearts, but at the end of the day, there has been no performer quite like Freddie.
From stage presence to vocal capability – there was a study done on his singing voice that concluded he had a four-octave range, which is almost peerless – to his ability to connect with any audience, no matter their music preference, Freddie had it all.
Now, as the years roll by since his passing, time has ensured he is immortal after all. While “every generation” has its hero, Freddie is the hero for all generations and he’ll rightly be regarded as rock royalty for all time. Long live the Queen.