World Stamps

Born Sept. 5: Freddie Mercury

Sep 4, 2016, 11 PM
Musician Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer of the rock group Queen, is featured on the 19-penny British stamp issued in 1999.

By Michael Baadke

Sept. 5, 2016, would have been the 70th birthday of the late Freddie Mercury, who was born Farrokh Bulsara on Sept. 5, 1946, in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

An immensely talented singer, songwriter, musician and showman, Mercury was lead vocalist and keyboardist for the British-based rock group Queen, and composed many of the group’s greatest hits, including Killer Queen (1974), Bohemian Rhapsody (1975), We are the Champions (1977), and Crazy Little Thing Called Love (1979).

Mercury formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor; bassist John Deacon completed the quartet the following year. The band’s first album, simply titled Queen, was released in 1973, with five of the album’s 10 songs written by Mercury.

By the end of the decade, the band had become one of the world’s top rock acts, filling stadiums worldwide and selling millions of albums internationally.

Queen toured into 1986, but Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987. His illness was not publicly disclosed until the day before his death from pneumonia at age 45 on Nov. 24, 1991.

As a youngster, Mercury was a stamp collector, and held onto his childhood collection all of his life. It was purchased at auction by the British Postal Museum and Archive in 1993.

Freddie Mercury is pictured in concert on a 19-penny stamp issued by Great Britain’s Royal Mail on June 1, 1999 (Scott 1859) as part of the lengthy British Achievements series marking the millennium.