Rock Singer Freddie Mercury Dies After Announcing He Had AIDS
LONDON (AP) _ Rock musician Freddie Mercury, whose dramatic vocals helped make Queen one of the top pop music groups of the 1970s, died Sunday night of pneumonia brought on by AIDS, his publicist said.
Only a day earlier, the 45-year-old Mercury had ended intense media speculation about his health by issuing a statement that he was stricken with the disease.
Mercury died peacefully at his home in Kensington, west London, said his spokeswoman, Roxy Meade. ″His death was the result of broncho-pneumonia brought on by AIDS,″ said a statement from his publicity company.
In his disclosure Saturday, Mercury said:
″I felt it correct to keep this information private to date in order to protect the privacy of those around me.
″However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.″
Born Frederick Bulsara in Zanzibar, the son of a government accountant, Mercury rose to fame as the bravura singer for Queen, whose elaborate and occasionally bombastic songs made the group one of the favorites of the 1970s.
Their hits included ″Bohemian Rhapsody,″ ″We Are The Champions″ and ″Crazy Little Thing Called Love.″ Mercury later released solo albums such as ″The Great Pretender,″ which also sold well.
In recent years, he had lived a secluded life and resisted responding to persistent rumors that he had contracted AIDS.
After speculating for weeks that Mercury might have AIDS, British tabloids gave his confirmation big play. ″Freddie: I’ve Got AIDS,″ News of the World screamed in 2-inch type.
Photos published Sunday show that the disease, which attacks the body’s immune system, had left him looking frail and gaunt.
After Mercury’s family returned to England, he attended Ealing College of Art, then joined Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor to form Queen in 1971.
Their debut album was ″Queen″ in 1973, followed by ″Queen II″ a year later with the single ″Seven Seas of Rhye,″ which made the British charts.
The ″Sheer Heart Attack″ album gave them a big hit with ″Killer Queen,″ but it was ″A Night At The Opera″ which gave them a No. 1 with ″Bohemian Rhapsody.″
Mercury’s flamboyance on stage was equalled off-stage, with after-show parties went on for days.
But after he retreated into a quieter lifestyle, he insisted that was the genuine Freddie Mercury.
″I’m so powerful on stage that I seem to have created a monster. When I’m performing I’m an extrovert, yet inside I’m a completely different man,″ he once said.
His former girlfriend Mary Austin continued to work on his staff after the end of their seven-year relationship. He was godfather to her son Richard, born in 1989.
A private cremation is to be held this week. Details on survivors were not immediately available.