Tag Archives: michael jackson

Freddie Mercury: Rock Star, Legend, Legacy!

An artist who needs no introduction is Freddie Mercury, the Queen vocalist and solo performer extraordinaire who, for many, will go down as the finest rock front man of all time.

Born Farrokh Balsara, the singer changed his stage name upon joining the group Smile – which featured Roger Taylor and Brian May – in 1971. Altering the name to Queen and added bassist John Deacon, the group released their self-titled debut album in 1973 to little fanfare, instead making a true breakthrough with third album ‘Sheer Heart Attack‘ in 1974, which featured the UK number two charting single ‘Killer Queen’. All that was to be superseded however with the following year’s ‘A Night At The Opera’ which featured mega selling hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ which went on to spend nine weeks at the top of the UK Single Charts and also earned the band their first top 10 hit on the US Billboard Charts.

From there the rest was history, with the band eventually releasing 18 number one albums and 18 number one singles with estimates on complete worldwide albums sold ranging 150 million to a staggering 300 million copies.

Though the band as a whole were superb, a lot of acclaim has always fallen on the charismatic Mercury, an opera-trained singer whose stunning range, combined with his extroverted on stage theatrics made him one of the most-loved stars in music, with notable performances including two shows at Wembley Stadium, London for Live Aid in 1985 and on what would amount to Queen’s final tour in 1986.

Freddie Mercury still influences the music scene like no one else of his time. In 2009, he was voted “the biggest rock singer of all time”, by the readership of ‘Classic Rock‘ magazine. The ‘Rolling Stone‘ lists him on rank 18 of the greatest singers in history. Freddie Mercury will never be forgotten and he was right when he said: “I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.”

Fans wishing to hear new material from Freddie should brace themselves for a treat as new posthumous material is due to be released next year.  Queen‘s Brian May and Roger Taylor have revealed they’re in possession of recordings by Freddie Mercury singing with another legendary artist: Michael Jackson.  The Jackson estate has granted Taylor and May permission to work with the material, recorded in 1983 at Michael’s house. At the time Queen were touring America.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the sad death of Freddie Mercury.

Freddie Mercury caught HIV in 1987.  Back then, HIV treatments were not as effective as they are today and he eventually died of AIDS.  Although the media was full of speculations about his state of health for a long time, he admitted to having the disease on 23rd November 1991.   Within 24 hours after this announcement, he had fallen into a coma and passed away.  He died of pneumonia in consequence of his HIV infection. He did not live to see the Olympic Games in 1992, which he composed the official anthem ‘Barcelona’ with opera singer Montserrat Caballé.

As one of the highest-profile victims of AIDS, Freddie Mercury’s death drew greater media awareness of the virus and started the fight to remove the stigma, discrimination and prejudice from a disease which could affect anyone.

Yes Freddie, you were a rock star, you were a legend, and now you’re a legacy! Thank you Freddie. We love you.

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The Ryan White Story – Gone Too Soon

Over the past few weeks you’ve been learning about the prejudice and discrimination faced by Ryan White because of his HIV infection.  This series concludes with a tribute to the life of Ryan White from the view point of one of his friends, Michael Jackson, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday today if he was still with us.

The 1980’s, from a HIV/AIDS viewpoint was a time when many people panicked and about a new fatal and contagious disease, people were highly on guard with those who contracted it.  Most people were afraid of individuals who had HIV and if known to them, wouldn’t sit near them, talk to them and if it were possible refuse to breathe the same air!  It was exactly this time that Michael Jackson fearlessly invited Ryan to his home, and publicly embraced him inviting others not to be fearful of people living with HIV.

Ryan Whites mother, Jeanne White-Ginder has fond memories of Michael’s friendship with her son and you can read more about Ryan and Michael’s friendship here.

Two years after Ryan died, Michael Jackson released “Gone Too Soon” on World AIDS Day, 1993 dedicating it to Ryan White.  The video shows footage of Michael and Ryan together, as well as scenes from Ryan’s funeral.  Michael also performed the song at Bill Clinton’s inaugural celebration to serve as a promotional platform for HIV & AIDS funding adding:

I would like to take a moment from this very public ceremony to speak of something very personal. It concerns a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us. His name is Ryan White. He was a hemophiliac who was diagnosed with the AIDS virus [sic] when he was eleven. He died shortly after turning eighteen, the very time most young people are beginning to explore life’s wonderful possibilities. My friend Ryan was a very bright, very brave, and very normal young man who never wanted to be a symbol or a spokesperson for a deadly disease. Over the years, I’ve shared many silly, happy, and painful moments with Ryan and I was with him at the end of his brief but eventful journey. Ryan is gone and just as anyone who has lost a loved one to AIDS, I miss him deeply and constantly. He is gone, but I want his life to have meaning beyond his passing. It is my hope, President-elect Clinton, that you and your administration commit the resources needed to eliminate this awful disease that took my friend, and ended so many promising lives before their time.

“Gone Too Soon” later received more exposure, following the deaths of both Diana, Princess of Wales and Michael Jackson himself.

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