Classic Hits & Oldies

King of Queen: Freddie Mercury died 30 years ago today

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Neal Preston/© Queen Productions Ltd

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of one of rock’s greatest champions, Queen singer Freddie Mercury.

Mercury died from complications of AIDS at age 45 on November 23, 1991, just one day after announcing to the world that he’d been diagnosed with the disease.

Widely regarded as one of the all-time great rock singers and frontmen, Freddie used his powerful vocals, flamboyant persona and dynamic performing style to help Queen become among the most popular and successful bands in the world.

Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in 1946 on the African island of Zanzibar, where his family lived until 1964, when they moved to the U.K. In 1970, Mercury teamed up with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor in a band called Smile, and after the addition of bassist John Deacon, the group changed its name to Queen.

The band blended a variety of genres to create a unique sound that captivated a wide variety of music fans. Mercury wrote many of Queen’s biggest hits, including “Killer Queen,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Are the Champions,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Bicycle Race,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Play the Game” and, of course, the enduring rock anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Freddie also co-wrote Queen’s classic 1981 collaboration with David Bowie, “Under Pressure.” Mercury’s performance with Queen at London’s Wembley Stadium at the 1985 Live Aid festival is considered one of the highlights of that historic event.

Mercury also released a pair of solo albums during the 1980s.

Following Freddie’s death, May, Taylor and Queen manager Jim Beach co-founded the Mercury Phoenix Trust in his honor. The charity supports AIDS-related causes.

Mercury was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Queen in 2001. His legacy continues to make its mark on the rock and pop world.

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