Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer and lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the greatest lead singers in the history of rock music, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range.
Born in 1946 in Zanzibar to Parsi parents from India, he attended English-style boarding schools in India from the age of eight, and returned to Zanzibar after secondary school. In 1964, his family fled the Zanzibar Revolution, moving to Middlesex, England. Having studied and written music for years, he formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Mercury wrote numerous hits for Queen, including "Killer Queen", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Somebody to Love", "We Are the Champions", "Don't Stop Me Now", and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". He also led a solo career and served as a producer and guest musician for other artists. Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS. He confirmed the day before his death that he had contracted the disease.
As a member of Queen, Mercury was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In 1990, he and the band Queen were awarded the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. In 1992, a tribute concert was held at Wembley Stadium, London. In 2002, Mercury ranked as number 58 in the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. The 2018 film about Mercury and Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, is the highest-grossing musical biographical film of all time. Rami Malek won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Mercury in the film, among critical praise and other accolades.
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. They originally consisted of Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Queen's earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock, into their music.
Before joining Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had been playing together in a band named Smile with bassist Tim Staffell. Freddie Mercury (then known by his birth name of Farrokh "Freddie" Bulsara) was a fan of Smile, and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques after Staffell's departure in 1970. Mercury himself joined the band shortly thereafter, changed the name of the band to "Queen", and adopted his familiar stage name. John Deacon was recruited prior to recording their eponymous debut album in 1973. Queen enjoyed success in the UK with their debut and its follow-up, Queen II in 1974, but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack later in 1974 and A Night at the Opera in 1975 that gained the band international success. The latter featured "Bohemian Rhapsody", which stayed at number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks; it charted at number one in several other territories, and gave the band their first top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Their 1977 album, News of the World, contained two of rock's most recognisable anthems, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions".
By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world, with "Another One Bites the Dust" their best selling single, and their performance at 1985's Live Aid is regarded as one of the greatest in rock history. In 1991, Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have occasionally performed together, including collaborations with Paul Rodgers (2004–09) and with Adam Lambert (since 2011). In November 2014, Queen released a new album, Queen Forever, featuring vocals from the late Freddie Mercury.
The band have released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Estimates of their record sales generally range from 150 million to 300 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. They received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.