Queen still reigns 20 years after Freddie Mercury’s deathLONDON - Freddie Mercury died 20 years ago on Thursday but his star has only burned brighter in the two decades since, with Queen and their larger-than-life frontman as popular as ever.
The British rockers, marking their 40th anniversary this year, are among the world’s biggest-selling artists ever - with most of their sales coming in the 20 years since Mercury died.
Queen’s guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor are busier than ever and Mercury’s songs such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” still endure as classics.
The Independent said the singer’s death “seemed a mere hiccup in his career.”
In the years since, Mercury’s stock has risen, with a new generation of artists citing Queen among their influences, including Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, Foo Fighters and Muse.
Mercury, 45, died at his London home on Nov. 24, 1991. He had been diagnosed HIV positive several years earlier and died of bronchial pneumonia, brought on by AIDS.
Queen’s lead singer is remembered for his captivating live performances, spellbinding vocals and enduring hits including “We Are The Champions,” “Killer Queen” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
The jukebox musical “We Will Rock You,” launched in 2002, still plays to a packed house in London and has been staged around the world from Australia to South Africa, Japan, Europe and the United States. With interest still high, a film about Mercury, starring Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen, is in the pipeline, focusing on the years leading up to Queen’s stellar performance at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
“Even though physically he is not here, his presence seems more potent than ever,” May wrote in a blog marking Mercury’s 65th birthday in September.
“He will always epitomize the perfect frontman - the consummate channel of communication between a band and an audience. He devoured life. He celebrated every minute. And, like a great comet, he left a luminous trail which will sparkle for many a generation to come.”
In a statement on Nov. 23, 1991, Mercury confirmed from his death bed that he had AIDS.
Within 24 hours he had fallen into a coma and passed away, having handled his illness in private and never complained of his suffering.
As one of the highest-profile victims of AIDS, his death brought greater awareness of the virus and helped remove the stigma from a disease now ravaging southern Africa. In a 1987 interview, Mercury told journalist David Wigg he had no fears of becoming a lonely, rich 70-year-old.
“I’ve lived a full life and if I’m dead tomorrow, I don’t give a damn. I really have done it all,” he said.
Born Farrokh Bulsara on Sept. 5, 1946, to a Parsi Indian family living on the East African spice island of Zanzibar and educated at an English-style boarding school in India, the shy teenager arrived in London when his family fled the 1964 Zanzibar revolution. The classic image of Mercury is him in his 1986 touring costume, mustached and with one fist raised to the sky.