Friday, September 08, 2006

Rock and Roll Royalty

Some of my favorite music growing up was classic rock.

There was so much diversity among the more progressive rock bands in particular. Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Rush, and other artists crossed boundaries, recording albums (and even individual songs) that incorporated elements of the blues, jazz, orchestral music, and even English folk into their rock.

One group took this meshing of styles to a whole new level: Queen.

Sadly, many people around the world today know Queen less for its music than for Freddie Mercury’s flamboyance—and his death from AIDS in 1991. His lifestyle choice and dramatic death ten years ago this November continue to have effects even now.

Take, for example, what just happened in Zanzibar.

Last week, Islamist protests on this Tanzanian island where Mercury was born 60 years ago (as Farrokh Bulsara) led organizers to cancel a proposed birthday bash. The opponents argued that the late singer’s lifestyle offends most of Zanzibar’s Muslim majority and threatened to demonstrate en masse if planners held the party.

Never mind that Zanzibar is home to a popular Mercury-themed restaurant anyway. Never mind that the celebration sought to raise money for HIV/AIDS victims on the island, regardless of their views of the singer’s music or the way he behaved.

To restore some sense of balance to the universe, I offer these tidbits that you may not have known about Queen’s frontman:

  • Freddie Mercury may have been the world’s first Persian and Indian rock star, having been born to Parsi parents—Zoroastrians of Persian descent in India.

  • His voice spanned four octaves despite his lack of formal vocal training.

  • Mercury designed the heraldic Queen logo, using the artistic skill he mastered while gaining a degree in art and graphic design.

  • He wrote most of the band’s biggest hits—ranging from simple tunes like “We Are the Champions” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” to complex songs like “Bicycle Race” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Whatever you think of his lifestyle, Freddie Mercury was one of the greatest. He inspired many of the best acts of the 80s, 90s, and today. He was a talented and amazing artist.

Sadly, in much of the world, it’s not always about the music.


At September 08, 2006 7:59 AM, Blogger Ben replied to my musings ...

What was truly inspirational was the way he could galvanise a live audience.
For me, he stole the show at Live Aid 85. It was the perfect theatre for him to ponce around with the whole world watching, and boy did he put on a show for them.

There was a Queen tribute on the Biography channel the other night and Brian May said something I found amazing. The complete music for "Bohemian Rhapsody" right down to the harmony vocal recording, the breakdown and sudden upsurge as the song "Rocked out" was all in Freddie's head right down to the last detail. Nothing was written down, not even the score or lyrics. The band all laughed at him when he told them of his musical vision for the song, but he had the last laugh.

Incredible talent.

At September 08, 2006 8:36 AM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

Some people like to protest over the dumbest things. They need to start thinking outside of the little box they live in.

At September 08, 2006 9:55 AM, Blogger mrsmogul replied to my musings ...

My sister had the Queen album so I grew up with the music. I recently saw some woman on tv claiming she was one of his lovers.

At September 08, 2006 10:15 AM, Blogger Maggie replied to my musings ...

I love Queen. It's nice to hear their music in today's movies.

At September 08, 2006 10:27 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

Queen were so influential and way a head of their time in some ways. At their peak they were one of those bands who were as good at writing as they were at performing.

At September 08, 2006 10:55 AM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Freddy is irreplaceable, and there will be no other like him ever.

Four octaves? Holy crap! I never knew that.

At September 08, 2006 12:06 PM, Blogger Paige Burns replied to my musings ...

When I was a little girl I used to ask my mom to play her Queen album all the time, and I still love them.

At September 08, 2006 1:14 PM, Anonymous BarBarA (aka Layla) replied to my musings ...

I always have and always will think highly of Freddie. I wrote a tribute to him not long ago. His passion and talent were both incredible. I agree - he is irreplacable.

At September 08, 2006 2:31 PM, Blogger KC replied to my musings ...

Unfortunately, there will always be people who refuse to accept others based only on the fact that they are different from themselves. What a small, prejudiced world they live in.

BTW, The Boy tried to sing Bohemian Rhapsody when we had the karaoke stuff set up earlier this week. It was a dismal failure, but I'm glad he gave it a try.

At September 08, 2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Perplexio replied to my musings ...

News of the World and A Night at the Opera are two of the finest albums I've ever heard.

At September 08, 2006 3:34 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

We are the champions and we will rock you are played at stadiums everywhere! Nobody will forget this guy ;)

Purdue doesn't play OSU this you, off our schedule with UM

At September 08, 2006 3:52 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Ben: I think anyone who say the Live Aid show--live or on tape later--will echo your thoughts.

Mike: I'm always amazed what people shoose to be upset over. I'll probably post on some aspect of that yet again sometime soon!

Mrs. Mogul: I remember that Freddie did have a female paramour for many years; I think he referred to her as his best friend as well.

Maggie, Metal Mark, Paige: Within the last year I've listened to the early Queen albums quite a bit and I'm constantly surprised how ahead fo their time they were. And then what they did between about 1975 and 1980 is remarkable.

Phoenix, Barbara: irreplacable is right on. Some folks got upset when the other members of Queen toured with a new lead singer, but I remain OK with it because they used the name "Queen and Paul Rodgers." The other members have a right to still play music, after all, and nobody knows better than they do how irreplacable Freddie is.

KC: The little guy is braver than I am. I won't even try to sing that one!

Perpelxio: I prefer the earlier albums, with their harder edge, but I can't put down any Queen album I've heard.

Phats: He did create the perfect anthem, didn't he? Nice way to dodge the Buckeye bullet--I hate to say it, but they may be unstoppable this year.

-- david

At September 08, 2006 4:46 PM, Anonymous Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I think what they did for the Highlander soundtrack was musical brilliance... Princes of the Universe, Gimme the Prize, One Year of Love, and Who Wants to Live Forever all solid tracks!

For the most part I agree with you about their earlier material but one of the best songs they did, imho, was Innuendo which was released shortly before Freddie died.

At September 08, 2006 5:07 PM, Anonymous Rhodeislandrock replied to my musings ...

Queen has always been one of my top bands since I was a kid. I always thought that Freddie's voice lent Queen a classier sound than the Metal bands I worshipped. Freddie Mercury was a one of a kind talent, and a kind person, that is sorely missed.

At September 08, 2006 7:01 PM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

when someone can do something as lame as the theme from Flash Gordon or Body Language - - and still be good, then that says something!

I hate it when people are judged by their lifestyles instead of talent, I don't pay people or support them because of what they do off stage.

good post!

At September 08, 2006 8:49 PM, Blogger goldennib replied to my musings ...

I'm such a ditz, I didn't realize Freddy was gay until he died. But then again, I really don't care what grown consenting people do in there bedrooms. As a matter of fact, I don't want to know. I wish people would grow the f*&^ up already. And I have found that the people who protest the most and the loudest have the biggest skeletons to hide.

At September 08, 2006 8:50 PM, Blogger Trundling Grunt replied to my musings ...

I sorta went off them around the time of Killer Queen but Queen and Queen II were classic, just classic.

At September 09, 2006 12:59 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

They will lose to Texas tomorrow sorry.

Who is your team OSU?

At September 09, 2006 2:38 AM, Blogger Paige Burns replied to my musings ...

Come on! Flash wasn't lame?!

Flash...ah ah.

At September 09, 2006 6:10 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Perplexio: I remember hearing the song "Innuendo" on the radio and thinking how amazing it was that they did an epic in only a few minutes.

Rhode Island Rock: Many, many metal bands--much harder than Queen--were influenced by the band.

OMW: Let's focus on the positive, shall we? Even the Beatles did "Yellow Submarine," after all.

GoldenNib: Good observation. Sad, but true.

T-Grunt: Those first two albums are gems, and underappreciated by most music fans.

Phats: I have no real stakes in college football. For me it's all abotu basketball--Duke basketball. So I'll be glad to lend my allegience to Purdue for football.

Paige: The song "Flash" and the others Queen did for the movie were cartooonish, campy, and amazingly cheesy. Not great as songs by themselves, in my opinion, but perfect for that film.

-- david

At September 09, 2006 8:32 AM, Blogger Death Warmed Over replied to my musings ...

Without Queen the classic and seminal moment of "Waynes world" would not have been possible

At September 09, 2006 9:58 AM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

Damn, I love Queen. And I had the pleasure of seeing them in concert - what a night!

Rest in peace, Freddie Mercury. You are missed.

At September 09, 2006 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

Great post David!
I can only add ~ what a showman! I never had the privilege of seeing Queen live, but I remember Live Aid. He took the stage and never gave it back.

He was just one more of a lost generation, before AIDS was a treatable disease. Whatever people think of homosexuality, to believe that it justifies the death-sentence of AIDS is just too draconian for me. Chalk up one more country I wont be visiting with my pagan-american tourist dollars.

Godwhacker (posting anonymously because of "blogger beta")

At September 09, 2006 10:15 AM, Anonymous fred charles replied to my musings ...

I was a huge Queen fan when I was a kid. I had all of their records up until Hot Space. It's sad that people can't seperate the art from the artist. No one sounded like Queen and no one sounds like them today.

At September 09, 2006 12:38 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

Another example of fundamentalism and intolerance run rampant.

At September 09, 2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Laurie replied to my musings ...

RIP, Freddy.

Great tribute, David. There will never be another vocalist that can fill his shoes.

At September 09, 2006 6:11 PM, Blogger missy replied to my musings ...

I should try to find my photo of FM's moument in Montreaux. Long Live, The Queen!

At September 09, 2006 6:35 PM, Blogger Alex replied to my musings ...

Yes, Freddy was a hell of a singer, and by all accounts, a genuinely nice man. It's a shame that the Islamic fundamentalist extremists in the land of his birth has led to this cancellation; truly sad.

I have a confession...I've only recently begun to appreciate Queen! Forgive me, everyone?

At September 09, 2006 9:31 PM, Blogger Michelle replied to my musings ...

What a waste it was the day we lost Freddie. He was the ultimate entertainer and professional :o)

At September 10, 2006 8:55 AM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

Freddie Mercury was awesome. Queen's music was awesome. Ok so as a child they scared me a little bit and I'll never fully recover from Flash Gordon, but in a word they will always be AWESOME.

I'm having trouble accessing some sites today- including my own and even Google. Hopefully it will all blow over soon.:(

At September 10, 2006 11:59 AM, Blogger Beth replied to my musings ...

I wasn't a fan of many of the progrock bands you listed ... but I love Queen. Who cares who Freddie slept with?

At September 10, 2006 4:04 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

DWO: I think many people know "Bohemian Rhapsody" because of that movie.

Lisa, GW, Fred C., Laurie: I'm pleasantly surprised at how nealry universal the appreciation for Queen is.

Missy: I didn't even know he had a monument in Montreaux. I guess I've learned my new thing for the day and I can rest now.

Alex: I, for one, forgive you. I only listened to various Greatest Hits compilations and Innuendo until a couple of years ago, when I started with their ealry albums. Grest stuff!

Michelle: He suffered the consequences of his actions, but we all suffer too because we can't hear his voice on new songs.

Janet: I can't say Queen ever "scared"me, although I'll admit that Flash Gordon wasn't the height of Western civilization.

Beth: Right on. Let's appreciate the art and mind our own business on the rest.

-- david

At September 10, 2006 4:15 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

Freddie Mercury was a one of a kind talent. Islamic extremism is growing to be a bigger crock of shit all the time.

At September 10, 2006 5:14 PM, Anonymous starbender replied to my musings ...

U must b just
about my age...
'Genesis, Yess, Pink Floyd,
King Crimson, Rush...
I luv them 2 this day!

At September 10, 2006 9:51 PM, Anonymous mojotek replied to my musings ...

It really is quite sad that it couldn't go on as planned. I also had no idea that Freddie was Persian and Indian... shows you how much of a rock trivia person I am.

At September 11, 2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

Great tribute DA. I didn't know any of those things about Freddy. But then again, you are my veritable tome of random knowledge. ;-)

At September 11, 2006 8:31 AM, Blogger DaBich replied to my musings ...

Ahhhh...David, you have such excellent taste! I adored Queen, and Freddie was fantastic, I miss him and the music industry is missing out.

Another One Bites the Dust...

RIP Freddie!

At September 11, 2006 11:47 AM, Anonymous Perplexio replied to my musings ...

The only recent/current group I've heard that reminds me of Queen is Shadow Gallery. They're a progressive metal band. Their instrumentals sound more like Dream Theater, but their vocal harmonies sound like a page straight from Queen's book. I only have their Legacy album but it is a favorite of mine largely because of the Queen-esque vocal harmonies.

At September 11, 2006 12:24 PM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

There are some entertainers whose lifestyle and/or "talent" is so morally bankrupt that it leads me to dislike their work (the Hilton girls, Michael Moore, to name just two of many).

Mercury was not one of them. He was very talented & his passing was a great loss.

What can I say? ...Islamofascists have small, closed minds.

At September 11, 2006 3:34 PM, Blogger Etchen replied to my musings ...

Mercury was an amazing artist and man. Cool facts about him-I never new he designed their logo!

At September 12, 2006 9:32 PM, Blogger Enemy of the Republic replied to my musings ...

I had the good fortune to see Queen live twice while Freddy was alive. No one, I mean, no one, has ever ruled a stage like he did. The music suffered a bit in the 80s, although I loved Radio Ga Ga and The Show Must Go On. I know Queen is reunited and I do like Brian May, but I can't see them without Freddy.

At September 17, 2006 8:42 AM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. replied to my musings ...

This is going to sound absolutely mad, but "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" was my lullaby in 1976. That song was on our local station's top 5 songs at 9 pm and it was number one for months, so much that I could on it to be there at nite-nite time and I would go to sleep to Freddie Mercury's voice all those nights. And then my cousin showed me the cover of "News of the World" and it scared the shit out me! That huge robot with Queen dead and dying and his fingertip covered in blood is still one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen.

I love Queen. Watching the footage of them on my Live Aid DVD just shows you how special they were and getting my mom's point of view, she mentioned the adults all suspected they were gay, or at least Freddie was, but nobody cared. He was protected by that generation until the gaydar uncovered it, and why did we need that, really?

At September 26, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger dragonflyfilly replied to my musings ...

yes i agree, Freddie Mercury was one of the greatest...thanks for that list of facts about him...some of which i did not know...and as far as his "gayness" is concerned i think it is time to "get over" our preoccupation with other people's sex lives...wondering wheter or not a person is "this" or "that", in my opinion, is kind of weird, sort of like a perverted kind of voyeurism, if you know what i mean. Get a grip, World, people are people, let's celebrate who they are, and not be so pre-occupied about their sexual preferences.

enuf said,,, back to the music...

by the way, Davie, i was just listening to Radiohead's "I'm Special" (i think it is called) and i cannot figure out what comes after..."i'm a creep, i'm a _ _ _ _ (something)...sounds like I'm a widerererrrr (what? is is saying, do you know?

cheers for now,
from beautiful sunny Vancouver at a balmy 17 degrees!

At September 27, 2006 7:09 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Lily: It's called "Creep," and I always heard that line as "I'm a wierdo," but let me check a good lyrics site .... hold on ... OK, its agrees with me: "I'm a creep/I'm a wierdo."

-- david


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