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    Following in the footsteps of Freddie Mercury in London

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    Peter Dragicevich
    @peterdragicevich

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    Freddie Mercury, whose real name is Farrokh Bulsara, was born on September 5, 1946 in Stone Town, in the Zanzibar archipelago (now Tanzania) which at the time was under British protectorate.



    From 1954 to 1962, the young Farrokh was sent near Bombay in India where his maternal aunts lived to study in a British boarding school: St Peter's School.
    Faced with the bullying of which he is the object by his comrades, the boy begins to call himself "Freddie" and no longer Farrokh.


    In 1962, Freddie returned to Stone Town to complete his studies, but the country remained unstable with the weakening of the British Empire on the island.

    Following the Zanzibar revolution in 1964 which led to the creation of Tanzania, the family flew to London to start a new life.

    Through this article, follow in the footsteps of Freddie Mercury in London by discovering the places where he lived, recorded and played his hits. Also admire some musical instruments and objects that belonged to the artist on your way to the Hard Rock Cafe.

     

    Autumn 1964: The Bulsara family moves to London

    In 1964 when Freddie was 17, his family bought a Victorian house in Feltham, an impersonal small town in the western suburbs of London a few miles from theheathrow airport.


     


     

    Since September 1, 2016, a blue English Heritage plaque has been placed on the facade of the singer's first London home.

    Address :  22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, London, TW14 9LL, London

     

    1964 - 1966: Isleworth Polytechnic

    In September 1964, Freddie enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic (now renamed New Thames College) which was located near his home. This school is renowned for its training in performing arts, design and dance. Freddie studied there for two years and obtained the precious level A he needed to enter an art school.

    Address : Ridgeway Road, Isleworth TW7 5LJ

     

    1966 – 1969 : Ealing College of Art

    After passing his exams at Isleworth, Freddie enrolled in the Ealing College of Art, the equivalent of Fine Art. He still lives with his parents but is looking to earn money, and takes a weekend porter job at Heathrow Airport. Soon he found a much more lucrative source of income, as a living model for the evening drawing classes at Ealing.

    During his studies at Ealing College Freddie met Tim Staffell, singer of the group Smile who introduced him to Brian May and Roger Taylor. Tim Staffell left the group in 1970 leaving the place vacant for Freddie.


    In 1969, Freddie graduated from Ealing with a degree in Graphic Art and Design.

    Address : St Mary’s Road, Ealing, London W5 5RF

     

    June 1969: Recording of the first single at Trident studios


     

    In June 1969, the group Smile recorded at Trident studios the single Earth and its B side Step on me. The release is scheduled for August and the songs are intended for the US market.

    Other stars have also recorded in this gem of musical history such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Elton John.

    Today, renamed “Trident Sound Studios”, they no longer occupy the 5 floors of the building, only the ground floor and the basement are still studios, mainly for mastering.

    Address : 17 St Anne's Ct, Soho, London W1F 0BQ

     

    More information  

     

     August 1969: Freddie Mercury moves in with his friends in Kensington

    Freddie continues to travel back and forth between his parents' house and his fine arts school at Ealing College, but finds a second home with his friends Paul Humberstone and Chris Smith who rent an apartment at 42b Addison Gardens in Kensington.


     

    Address : 42 Addison Gardens, Hammersmith, London W14 0DP

     

    1969: Freddie meets Mary Austin at Kensington Market


    Then 19 years old, Mary Austin worked as a saleswoman at Kensington Market in the Biba boutique which was a London fashion store, famous during the 1960s and 1970s. It was here that Mary Austin met Freddie Mercury for the first time.

    Address : 87 Abingdon Road, Kensington, London W8 6AW

     

    70s: Queen frequents The Champion pub

     

    Located in the charming district of Notting Hill, The Champion was one of London's iconic gay pubs, frequented in the 70s by rock stars such as The Clash and Queen.

    And the good tip is that by subscribing to the pub newsletter, you will receive a voucher entitling you to a free pint of beer: the Camden Hells!

    This offer cannot be combined with other offers and is not valid on public holidays. Offer valid for 4 weeks from issue. Management reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any time.

    Address : 1 Wellington Terrace, Bayswater, London W2 4LW

    More information  

     

    1970 -1976: Freddie Mercury moves in with Mary Austin

     

    A few months after their meeting, Mary and Freddie move into a small old-fashioned apartment near Kensington Market where he will write his masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody.

    It is also at this address that Doug Puddifoot organized in 1973 the first photoshoot of the group, several of these photos are used on the back of their first album.

    During 1969, totally focused on his career, Freddy left alone for Liverpool to join the rock group Ibex. He continued his with Mary at a distance and proposed to her in 1974. She accepted, but the union would never be pronounced, because the singer had other s ...
    In 1976, Freddie announced to the press that he was bisexual, an assertion to which Mary Austin replied that he was not bisexual, but gay. The couple separated the same year and moved.

     

    Address : 100 Holland Road, Kensington, London W14 8BD

     

    July 18, 1970 : Premier concert the Queen

     

    In 1970, the group Smile broke up and Freddie Mercury persuaded May and Taylor to take up the adventure and change the name of the group and baptize it Queen. They gave their first concert under this name on July 18, 1970 at Imperial College.

    In 2013, the PRS for Music (British equivalent of Sacem) inaugurated a plaque in Union Hall at Imperial College, celebrating the place where Queen gave her very first concert. It is located in front of the rear entrance to Imperial College Union, located on the "Prince Consort Road".

    Address : 2 Prince Consort Road, Kensington, London SW7 2BB

     

    January 8, 1971: Queen's first concert at the Marquee Club


    Located in the heart of Soho, the Marquee Club is one of the most famous London clubs which hosted many rock stars until the end of the 80s, namely Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Clash, the Sex Pistols. , Iron Maiden… and David Bowie!

    Queen performed at the Marquee Club three times, on January 8, 1971, December 20, 1972, and April 9, 1973.

    Address : 90 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1F 0TH

     

    March 31, 1974: Queen's first concert performs at the Rainbow Theater

    On March 31, 1974, the group gave a concert for the first time at the Rainbow Theater as part of their Queen II tour. They return to this same room on November 19 and 20, 1974 and finally in December of the same year during their Crazy Tour tour.

    Until 1995 Rainbow Theater was a London venue where singers like David Bowie and Eric Clapton played. Today the place is a Methodist church.

     

    Address : 232 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, London N4 3NP

     

    1975: Recordings at Sarm West Studios


    In 1975, the group recorded sections of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Prophet's Song in the studios, then a year later recorded the video for Somebody to Love.

    From July to September 1977, the group recorded again in these studios, their sixth album News of the World. This album was one of Queen's great successes, thanks to the two hits We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. It has been described as the group's “last album of the classical period”.

    Built inside an old church, Sarm was in the mid-1970s, Sarm the first 24-track recording studio in England, and then the first with 48-channel installations.

    Many singing stars like, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones, George Michael, Madonna, Rihanna, and many more have recorded hit albums at Sarm West Studios.

    Today the studios are still in Notting Hill but at 105 Ladbroke Grove and the church has been converted into apartments.

    Address : 8-10 Basing Street, Notting Hill, London W11 1ET

     

    September 18, 1976: Queen concert in Hyde Park

    After performing twice in Edinburgh and once in Cardiff, Freddie Mercury and his band take part in a free concert in Hyde Park, the largest park in central London. It is held on September 18 for the sixth anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix.

    Among the 21 tracks, the group plays their new flagship Bohemian Rhapsody three times in an 80-minute performance, after the organizers had given them only an hour to allow other artists to perform. Attracting 150 people that day, Queen's performance remains one of the biggest London concerts in history to this day.

     

     

    End of 1976: Freddie Mercury moves to Stafford Terrace

     

    At the end of 1976, Freddie and Mary separate and leave their apartment at 100 Holland Road. Freddy is moving into a stunning two-story penthouse at 12 Stafford Terrace in Holland Park. As a farewell gift, Freddie gives Mary Austin a nearby apartment worth £ 300.000.

    Mercury lived at this address until he met Jim Hutton in 1985, then moved to Garden Lodge.

    Address : 12 Stafford Terrace, Kensington, London W8 7BH

     

     

    October 7, 1979: Freddie Mercury guest of honor at the Royal Opera House


    On October 7, 1979, Freddie Mercury was the guest of honor at the Royal Ballet Charity Gala held at the Coliseum Theater, one of London's largest theaters. In front of 2500 spectators, Mercury performs Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Bohemian Rhapsody accompanied by dancers from the Royal Ballet.

    This performance, unusual for the time when classical dance and music merged, was a real success.

     

    Address : London Coliseum, St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4ES

     

    December 26, 1979: Charity concert at Hammersmith Odeon


    On December 26, 1979, Queen participated in a charity concert intended to raise funds for Cambodian refugees who had fled the Pol Pot dictatorship. The group will perform Somebody To Love, We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. This concert will mark the end of their Crazy Tour.

    Since 2002, the venue has been renamed Eventim Apollo.

    Address : 45 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W6 9QH

     

    1985 - 1991: Garden Lodge the last residence of Freddie Mercury

     

    After his return from Munich where Freddy went into exile for 3 years to escape the English tax authorities too greedy for his taste, he returned to London and bought Garden Lodge in 1985, under the advice of Marys Austin. He decorates this large 28-room Georgian mansion with numerous master paintings and adds a recording studio where boozy evenings and late recording sessions are held.

    It is in this house in the heart of Kensington that Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991, at the age of 45. In her will, the artist bequeaths her mansion where she still lives and half of her copyright to Mary Austin.

    Address : 1 Logan Place, Kensington, London W8 6DE

     

    March 23, 1985: Freddy meets Jim Hutton at Heaven

     

    Freddy attends Heaven, a gay club near Trafalgar Square where he joins his friends Paul Prenter and Peter Straker.

    It is in this box that he meets one night in March 1985, his future companion Jim Hutton with whom he will live until the end of his days.

    Today Heaven is still open and considered to be the largest gay club in London.

    Address : The Arches, Villiers Street, Londres WC2N 6NG

    More information  

     

    July 13, 1985: Live Aid at Wembley Stadium

     

    Le July 13, 1985 is Live Aid, a humanitarian double concert given jointly at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, to raise funds against famine in Ethiopia.
    This musical event marked the spirits by its excessiveness. For 16 hours, 70 artists take turns on both stages, from Bob Dylan to Madonna via Sting, The Who, David Bowie, Queen, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, U2, Tina Turner, Sade or Dire Straits. The show is broadcast in nearly 150 countries and will be watched by two billion viewers.

    During the 22 minutes allotted to them, Queen gives a breathtaking performance by offering an ultra-rhythmic medley of their greatest hits, Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Gaga, We Will Rock You or We Are the Champions. This performance will lead the group to tour the stadiums the following year.

     

    Today it is possible to visit wembley stadium, accompanied by a guide who, during 1h15, retraces the great cultural and sporting moments of the stadium belonging to the cultural history of England.

    Address : London, Wembley HA9 0WS

    More information  

     

    25 November 1985 : Fashion Aid au Royal Albert Museum

    Freddie Mercury participates in the Fashion Aid, billed as the "UK's largest gathering of fashion designers" which aims to raise funds to alleviate famine in Ethiopia.

    The undisputed highlight of the evening is the fake marriage between chic English actress Jane Seymour and rock star Freddie Mercury who receives a theatrical kiss from the bride!

    The event brought together 35 hairdressers, 60 makeup artists, 120 dressers, 125 models and a celebrity crowd from various backgrounds including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, actresses Jane Seymour and Anjelica Huston, singers Kate Bush, Boy George, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Madonna, Ringo Starr and British designers like Jasper Conran.
    The event also featured fashion designs by Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Issey Miyake and Yves Saint Laurent.

    Address : Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP

    More information  

     

    January 1986: Recording in Abbey Road studios

     

    In January 1986 Freddie Mercury recorded at Abbey Road, one of the most famous studios in the world, the song Time Waits for No One. The latter was originally recorded for the concept album of the musical comedy “Time”, written by Dave Clark and David Soames and composed by Jeff Daniels.
    Time premiered on April 9, 1986 at the Dominion Theater and would run for two years. This musical is an unprecedented success in the United Kingdom with more than a million spectators.

     

    The accompanying clip was shot in April 1986 at the Dominion Theater.

     

    Address : 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8 9AY

     

    July 11 - 12, 1986: legendary concerts at Wembley

    The 11 and 12 1986 July, during the tour The Magic Tour, the group gives two anthology concerts at Wembley Stadium, bringing together more than 140.000 wild spectators. Freddie Mercury at his best, multiplies the excesses in arrogant poses and invites the audience to vocalize with him. The singer ends the show, wearing a crown and draped in a royal cape, to sing the famous God Save The Queen.

    These legendary concerts are among the last appearances of the artist before he was swept away by the disease. Freddie Mercury was at the peak of his career, during these two grandiose concerts which required colossal means, 9 tons of equipment and 15 cameras.

    Today it is possible to visit wembley stadium, accompanied by a guide who, during 1h15, retraces the great cultural and sporting moments of the stadium belonging to the cultural history of England.

    Address : London, Wembley HA9 0WS

    More information  

     

    August 9, 1986: Queen's last concert

    Following their success at Wembley, the group are attempting to book the stadium for a third night in order to accommodate those who were unable to secure a seat, but another event is already scheduled for that day. They therefore fall back on Knebworth Park located 46 km north of London.

    Tickets all sell out in two hours, and 125 people flock to see what is Queen's final concert in her original lineup, before Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS in 000.

    The spectators who start flocking to the park in the morning, create one of the biggest traffic jams ever seen in England. The group, which is informed, hires a helicopter for the occasion to bring them to Knebworth Park.
    In order not to go unnoticed, the helicopter is dressed in the colors of the A Kind of Magic album; Queen caused a sensation when they arrived during the performance of one of the groups of the first part.

    At the end of the concert, the traffic jams were worse than at the start of the day: the parking lot not being lit, some people spend the night looking for their cars and even sleeping there, giving up on the traffic.

    Several extracts will be taken from this concert at Knebworth Park which will feed the Live Magic album.

    Address : Knebworth House, Old Knebworth Ln, Stevenage SG1 2AX

     

    1987: Recording of the album Barcelona

     

    After recording Night at the Opera in 1975 in the Townhouse studios, Freddie Mercury returned in 1987 to these places for the recording of the album Barcelona with the Spanish soprano singer Montserrat Caballé. He chooses these studios for their technical qualities and the proximity to his house in Kensington.

    These studios have hosted many stars like David Bowie, Coldplay, the Sex Pistols, Robbie Williams - and this was even where Elton John recorded Candle In The Wind as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

    The studio closed in 2008 and the building has been rehabilitated into luxury apartments.

    Address : 150 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 8EN

     

    January 1988: Recording of the album The Miracle

     

    After having recorded in 1975 at Olympic studios their revolutionary album, A Night at the Opera, the quartet met from January 1988 in these same studios. They recorded their 13th studio album: The Miracle which was done between Olympic and Townhouse studios during the first half of 1988, then at Mountain studios in Montreux during the second part of the year, and ended in February 1989.

    After four years of closure, the Olympic studios reopened on October 14, 2013 as a cinema with beautiful and comfortable rooms also featuring a café and a recording studio.

     

    Address studios Olympic : 117 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 9H

    More information  

     

    March 1989: Recording of the Innuendo album at the Metropolis studio

     

    Innuendo is the fourteenth album of the group and the last album released during the lifetime of Freddie Mercury who died nine months after the release of the disc. The album was recorded between March 1989 and November 1990 in Montreux, Switzerland and London.

    It is also in these studios that the clip for the song Headlong was shot. To discover the location, do not hesitate to watch the video to see the group recording the song and to see the outside of the studio.

    Address : 70 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London W4 1SY

     

    1991: Freddy Mercury rests in Kensal Green cemetery?

     

    on November 24, 1991, Freddie Mercury died of pneumonia from which he had suffered for several weeks. By virtue of Zoroastrian tradition, he requested that his funeral follow the modern rite of this religion and was cremated in Kensal Green cemetery.

    At his request, his ashes are kept in an urn and entrusted to Mary Austin then dispersed in a secret place.

     

     

    In 2013 a stele was erected in Kensal Green cemetery, on which is placed a plaque bearing his real name Farrokh Bulsara followed by the epitaph: “to be always near you, with all my love” and signed with the letter M; that may refer to Mary Austin.

    The mystery remains for the fans. Some believe, that Mary Austin would have buried her ashes under a Japanese cherry tree at Garden Lodge, to comply with her wishes. Others believe that his ashes would be on the shores of Lake Geneva where he retired to rest, or perhaps in Zanzibar, in his native country.

     

    Address : Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London W10 4RA

     

    November 24, 2009: Inauguration of the memorial in tribute to Freddie Mercury

     

    The town of Feltham pays homage to Freddie by installing a plaque on the ground, engraved with a star with the artist's name. It was inaugurated in the presence of Brian May, Jer Bulsara (his mother) and Kashmira Cooke (his sister), at the foot of a maple which is said to be Mercury's favorite tree.

     

    Address : 21 High Street, Feltham TW13 4AG

     

    June 2019: Opening of the Hard Rock Hotel

     

    The Hard Rock Hotel in Maryleborne is home to musical memorabilia from music's greatest legends, including a Kirkwood piano that belonged to Freddie Mercury as a teenager, and a handwritten letter from Buddy Holly dated 1958 .

    For the record, rooms have Crosley turntables, and guests can reserve a Fender guitar to play in their room (with headphones so as not to inconvenience the neighborhood).

    Address : Great Cumberland Place, Westminster, Londres, W1H 7DL

    More information  

     

    Hard Rock Cafe and its Rock n 'Roll decoration

    London has three Hard Rock Cafe restaurants, an American restaurant chain known for their burgers and cult items that once belonged to rock stars. With more than 81 pieces, the chain has the largest collection in the world of objects around rock n'roll.

     

    Le Hard Rock Cafe London located in the upscale Mayfair district, stands out with its The Vault museum located in the basement of the chain's souvenir store.
    Tucked away in the vaults of the old Coutts Bank, The Vault is a free museum displaying the personal effects of music stars. Among the cult objects are the guitars of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and David Bowie but especially an antique chair belonging to Freddie Mercury.
    Guided tours take place every 20 minutes at the Hard Rock Cafe Shop.

     

     

    We can also see in the dining room, a white Fender guitar that belonged to Freddie and signed by the members of the group.

     

     

    Finally the gold record of the 3rd Queen album, Sheer Heart Attack released in 1974 is exhibited in this same restaurant.

     

     

    Le Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly Circus owns the Shure 565 microphone that Freddie Mercury used on stage.

    If you would like to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant, you can benefit from an attractive rate by booking on GetYourGuide which offers a menu at 28,40 € (consisting of 2 or 3 courses with a soft drink) and giving priority entry to the restaurant.

    Addresses of Hard Rock Cafe :
    Hard Rock Cafe London :  150 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QZ
    Hard Rock Cafe Oxford Street : Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London, GB W1H7DL
    Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly Circus : 225-229 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HR

    More information  

     

     

    2020 : impasse Freddie Mercury

     

    On February 24, 2020 a street in the Feltham district, not far from the artist's parents' house is named Freddie Mercury.

    Address : Freddie Mercury Close, Feltham TW13 5AD

     

     

    Freddie Mercury at Madame Tussauds

     

    The famous Madame Tussauds museum in London is the equivalent of the Grévin museum in Paris where many wax figures are exhibited. Among the 300 characters, is that of Freddie Mercury posing masterfully in his famous posture which has become legendary, since the Wembley live in 1986.

     

    Address : Marylebone Road, Marylebone, London NW1 5LR

      More information

     

    January 2020: British Royal Mint honors Queen

    Queen is the first rock group to be honored with a collector's coin issued by the British Mint: Royal Mint.

    The design of the piece brings together the instruments of each of the founding members of the group: the red guitar of Brian May, the bass of John Deacon, the drums of Roger Taylor and the piano Freddie Mercury, whose keys are pressed on the opening notes. from the hit Bohemian Rhapsody (1975).

    The piece was created by designer Chris Facey, an absolute fan of the group.

      More information

     

    Guided tours in the footsteps of Freddie Mercury and Queen in London

    If you would like more information, here are some guided tours for your information:

    Exploration game and visit of Queen and Freddie Mercury : After downloading the mobile application, you will start an exploration game that will take you to the most iconic places in London related to Queen.

     

    Bohemian Rhapsody : Freddie Mercury : This 3-hour guided tour takes you through places frequented by Freddie Mercury and the Queen band, namely the recording studios, performance halls and Freddie's house. The opportunity to discover the districts of Kensington and Covent Garden as well as Hyde Park.

     

    Freddie Mercury and Queen. The London tour : This 3-hour guided tour begins in front of the legendary Trident Studios where Queen recorded her first two albums and part of Bohemian Rhapsody then continues to Imperial College, Kensington Market where Freddie met Mary, Garden Lodge, Freddie's home for ending at Heaven, the star's favorite club.

     

    Some reading tips

    Freddy Mercury, by Selim Rauer
    The author paints an intimate and unexpected portrait of Freddie Mercury by retracing the entire artistic and psychological journey of one of the greatest icons of rock, wonderfully written!


    Freddie Mercury - A Kind of Magic - The Illustrated History, the Mark Blake
    This magnificent illustrated biography devoted to Freddie Mercury and written by music journalist Mark Blake, retraces with precision the entire career of the artist but also his life, from his childhood in Zanzibar and India until his untimely death. in 1991.

    The book is rich in rare documents and exclusive photographs showing the star's outrageous outfits.


    Movie to watch

    Bohemian Rhapsody : Biopic of the end of the year 2018, the film traces the history of the group Queen, from its formation in 1970 until its triumphant return to the Live Aid concert in 1985.

     

    Conclusion

    A 2018 UK poll ranked Freddie Mercury as Britain's favorite solo artist, while Bohemian Rhapsody became the most streamed XNUMXth-century song in the same year.

    With over 300 million albums sold worldwide, Queen is still considered to be one of the greatest British rock groups of all time today. They were the forerunner of large stadium concerts and were instrumental in promoting this style of event.

    For the record, know that you can rent Duck House, a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva that once belonged to Freddie Mercury.


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