Whose band has spent more weeks on the UK album charts than any other
musical act, meaning more than the Beatles, Pink Floyd, or the Rolling
Stones? Who wrote the song chosen by the Guinness Book of Records poll
as the greatest song of all time? Who wrote a different song chosen as
the best ever by another major poll conducted by Sony? That’s right,
Farrokh Bulsara, born in Zanzibar. As founder and frontman of
Queen he wrote most of their hits including those two greatest, Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are the Champions.
The band is said to have sold more than 300 million albums worldwide.
Never a darling of the critical press, Queen was universally considered
to be electrifying in concert, in part because of their high camp and
theatrics, but also because of Mercury’s mighty four-octave range and
mesmerizing flair. They were the first band ever to play South American
stadiums and the first to play behind the Iron Curtain (in Budapest),
yet they also played Sun City, which put them on the United Nations’
blacklist. Their gig at Live Aid 1985 was later voted by music industry
honchos to be the greatest live performance in the history of rock.
Below, watch one gay man —in
complete clone gear, ultra tight jeans, tank top, and studded armband
proudly signaling that the pop charts are the only thing he’ll
top—transfix 72,000 people and get all of them waving and singing in
Exuberantly gay in everything his band did from its name onward, Mercury was not out offstage. He also tried to hide his one-hundred-percent Indian ethnicity—both his parents were Parsis from India—even from his bandmates, and he denied having HIV, for which he tested positive in 1987—until the day before his death on November 24, 1991, when he was 45.
Stephen Frears, who has worked complex gay themes in My Beautiful Laundrette and Prick Up Your Ears, as well as regal Brits in The Queen, is set to direct the biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen slated to start filming next year. In June NME reported that Katy Perry wants to play Mercury's longtime beard Mary Austin, to whom he left his mansion, noticeably not his partner Jim Hutton who died in 2010. Brace yourself for a globally mainstream story that will likely portray the girlfriend as his one good stable relationship, and his stray gay wanderings as what killed him.