Randy Travis has faced numerous challenges throughout his life. Despite his popularity in films and music, he has had to deal with difficult situations such as committing crimes, suffering from poor health, going through a divorce, and yearning for children he never had. Nevertheless, Randy managed to overcome the difficulties and live life to the fullest. Further details about Randy Travis’ tragic life and how he dealt with it are discussed in the forthcoming text.
Randy Traywick, who is also known as Travis, was born in Marshville, North Carolina on May 4, 1959 alongside four siblings. He grew up on a farm where he raised cattle and turkeys while his parents worked full time. His father was in the construction industry while his mother worked in a textile company. However, despite having a farm, his father had different aspirations for his son.
His father had a great love for traditional country music. When Randy was a child, he would listen to old recordings of the genre, even though rock and roll was more popular among his peers and family. Despite regular exposure to rock and roll, including during car rides with friends, Randy was more attracted to the sound of country music and listened to it frequently.
His Dad Inspired His Country Singing
Harold Traywick, who happened to be Randy Travis’ father, wrote a few country songs and marketed them to radio stations in Monroe, a town located near Marshville, North Carolina. Additionally, Harold financed music classes for all his three sons and established a special music space in their house.
The Darker Side
The story has a negative twist suggesting that Harold would force boys to play even if they did not want to. Additionally, Harold had a reputation for heavy drinking and a short fuse, often yelling at the children and those in charge of games.
As the boys matured, they started causing problems and became very energetic. Due to the way they were raised, this was expected by many. Travis had a liking for music from the late 60s and early 70s, and at the age of 10, he got a Gibson guitar from his father for Christmas while his brother Ricky received a drum set.
Falling in Love With Country Music
After their parents gave the go signal, the Traywick siblings started entertaining at nearby events, with Randy still in grade school. It was evident that Randy was coerced into doing it by his parents, particularly his father who had the desire for him to do it. On the other hand, Travis had no interest in going to school, and he withdrew before finishing the ninth grade.
The musician went on stage alone to perform. Travis was consuming illegal substances and alcohol in excessive amounts. He has been straightforward about his drinking and substance abuse during his difficult adolescence, admitting that he started drinking when he was 12 years old and using substances when he was 14.
His Name Saved Him Many Times
Randy believed that consuming illicit substances and consuming alcoholic beverages were transforming him into a distinct individual. He had moments when he was incapable of controlling his thoughts, and he sensed as though he was losing his sanity. Travis jeopardized his well-being and risked getting incarcerated prior to his 18th birthday as a result of his actions. It was not possible for him to calculate the number of occasions he had spent in prison.
At a certain point, he got into trouble with the law after engaging in a high-speed pursuit and was also accused of breaking and entering. However, during a more stable time in his life, he managed to win an amateur talent competition at a nightclub called Country City U.S.A in North Carolina. The owner of the club, Lib Hatcher, was particularly impressed by his genuine and shy demeanor.
Given a Second Chance
Hatcher granted him another opportunity to start anew. Her aspiration was to assist him in achieving great success and reaching stardom. According to Randy, it was Hatcher who guided him back on track.
Having someone like her to offer advice and listen to him was a fantastic experience for him. He had never had that sort of experience before. Hatcher and his tone appeared to harmonize well together.
Following the sale of their Charlotte club, Hatcher and Travis relocated to Nashville in 1980. They secured a bungalow residence located nearby Music Row on 16th Avenue, where Travis searched for job opportunities. Hatcher received a job offer to work at the Nashville Palace, a live music restaurant situated in close proximity to Opryland, which was easily accessible by foot.
After becoming a part of the Palace, Travis held dual roles as a chef and a performer where he was responsible for cooking, washing dishes, and singing. His demanding work schedule usually lasted from the early morning hours until late into the night, ending around 2 AM.
His Style Was Catching Up
Travis’s style evolved with the changing times. In the 1980s, George Strait and Ricky Skaggs made a name for themselves as authentic country musicians, unlike those who dabbled in pop or rap. Despite this, Nashville management still prioritized crossover artists, using the success of Charlie Daniels as justification.
In 1985, Randy performed at the Palace where Martha Sharp, the vice president of Warner Bros., saw him and signed him. According to the LA Times, Martha Sharp expressed her admiration for Randy’s voice. However, some people thought that he had a strong country vibe.
The Name Change
Sharp renamed Randy Traywick as Randy Travis and guided him to capitalize on his strengths, such as his commanding and piercing voice and his ability to balance the emotions in his songs with irony. This guidance led to the release of his debut album, Storms of Life, by Warner Bros. in June 1986.
Initially, the projection was for the album to sell 20,000 copies. However, by the end of the year, they surpassed expectations by selling over a million copies, and they even released four singles: 1982, Reasons I Cheat, On the Other Hand, and Diggin’ Up Bones. Despite starting off unknown, Travis eventually gained recognition, and he managed to clinch the Horizon Award, which is analogous to the Newcomer of the Year honor.
Every Big Label Turned Him Down
Randy faced rejection from major record labels in Music City as early as the 1980s. His early demo tapes were criticized by record executives for having a sound that was too country. In reaction to this, Hatcher offered Randy a job as a nightclub singer at The Nashville Palace, where Randy’s services were hired by Hatcher, who worked as a club manager.
Hatcher tried to secure a deal with Warner Brothers Records by utilizing Randy’s self-produced album from 1982. Although Warner Bros. agreed to sign Randy, the terms of the contract required that his association with Hatcher remain undisclosed.
His Number One Hit Soared
Travis successfully launched a solo album called Live at the Nashville Palace while working at the Nashville Palace which ultimately helped him secure a record deal. Martha Sharp, who worked as an A&R executive at Warner Bros in 1985, recognized his talent and signed him on. According to a Washington Post article, Martha Sharp’s musical preferences had shifted towards crossover and modern country, and sometimes even trash, which was popular at that time.
Even though Randy had to change his name to Randy Travis in order to secure a record deal, it’s likely that he didn’t mind since he had put a lot of hard work into the process.
Singles Are on the Charts
He sang “On the Other Hand” in his first single which narrates the refused affair by a married man. By August 1985, the song topped the Billboard charts for 12 weeks, reaching the 67th spot. However, Randy expressed some disappointment over the uninspiring outcomes.
Nonetheless, the subsequent single released the following year performed better and attained the sixth position. Encouraged by its triumph, Warner Bros. republished On the Other Hand for broadcasting, and it went on to become Travis’ first ever chart-topper.
Singing at the Grand Ole Opry
Randy Travis had a longstanding aspiration to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, the renowned weekly country music show. His wish finally came true in March 1986 when he was extended an invitation to take the esteemed stage. This happened shortly after Randy’s popularity began to soar, forcing him and Lib to leave Nashville Palace.
According to an article in the New York Times, Randy holds the record for being the youngest member to join the Opry. During his introduction by Jimmy Dickens, he performed a popular Hank Williams track, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
1986 Was the Year
The artist had a significant year, as he made a comeback to the Opry in December. Travis’ album sales reached two million, and he shared the stage with iconic performers such as George Jones and Conway Twitty.
He was experiencing success in his music career and his interpersonal connections were healthy. He was staying focused and avoiding any issues. His music was expanding at a rapid pace and he anticipated further improvement.
Randy Travis was the first country singer to have his debut CD go platinum and to become a multi-platinum artist. In the wake of this highly acclaimed album, Storms of Life, he recorded Always & Forever, containing the song that made him famous, “Forever and Ever.”
He sold four million copies of this album, and Travis was awarded his first Grammy as the Best Male Country Singer. Randy couldn’t be more grateful to those around him for helping to make it happen. He couldn’t have done it alone!
Releasing His Third Album
1988 marked the release of a third album, Old 8X10, for which he was awarded his second Grammy. In the following years, he produced several successful albums. Randy had so many chart-toppers that Warner Bros could release two volumes of a Greatest Hits compilation.
The year before, Lib Hatcher and Randy Hatcher ended rumors of dating and tied the knot after almost 15 years together.
Travis made his Hollywood debut in 1988 with a small role in Young Guns. Following the release of back-to-back albums and years of touring, he took a year off in 1993 to make films exclusively. Five of his movies were Westerns.
As reported by The Country Daily, he worked on Dead Man’s Revenge, The Legend of O.B. Taggart, and At Risk, which was considered one of his non-Western films.
Returning to His Music Career
His return to music was marked by the 1994 release of “This Is Me.” This album produced four Billboard chart-topping singles. Despite this, Randy Travis continued to act. Randy appeared in The Rainmaker in 1997 and on several TV shows. Among them were Matlock, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Frasier.
Although Randy has enjoyed his work in film and TV, in his words to The Country Daily, music is his passion and always will be.
A Changed Man
As a result of his pivot to gospel music, Randy Travis released the album Inspirational Journey in 2000. Some questioned his sincerity. The Houston Chronicle reported that some say he’s just trying to keep his career alive by turning to gospel music.
The follow-up to his debut mainstream country album, Man Ain’t Made of Stone, produced no hit singles, apart from the title track, which peaked at No. 16. There’s no true way to tell if he was legit or not about the gospel part, it comes down to personal opinion.
The Spiritual Journey
CBN interviewed Randy about his spiritual journey. In his early 20s, he was getting ready for sleep by reading a spiritual book before going to bed each night. As a result, he says, he felt at peace.
A decade later, he and his wife went through a spiritual ceremony. Randy has produced a total of five Christian albums. A Grammy was awarded to Rise and Shine, and “Three Wooden Crosses” took home the Song of the Year award at the Country Music Awards.
An Ugly Divorce
Lib Hatcher-Travis, Randy Travis’ first wife, filed for divorce in 2010. Their marriage lasted 19 years, and they had been partners for at least 10 years after meeting in 1977, though it’s unclear when they began dating.
Despite their close relationship, the couple kept it private until 1991, when they married privately. Lib continued to manage Randy following their divorce, a relationship that also deteriorated.
It Got Nasty
As soon as they divorced, business disputes began between them. Randy claimed that his ex-wife violated their agreement by leaking details about him to end his career.
She claimed that Randy showed up at her office, bringing a truck and a team of people to clean out the office. Specifically, she claimed that Randy breached his contract, and she couldn’t properly manage his career. Sadly, their 35-year relationship came to an end.
Randy Travis had a few embarrassing incidents that caught the media’s attention after his divorce. According to Lib Hatcher-Travis, the divorce was due to suspicion that he had cheated on his wife by sleeping with her dentist’s wife, Mary Beougher, age 51.
Later that year, during a gala concert, he collapsed in Fort Worth while on tour to celebrate their 25th anniversary. According to his publicist, the incident resulted from taking several over-the-counter allergy medications simultaneously.
Things Got Worse
The situation worsened in 2012 following Randy Travis’ involvement in two adult beverage-related incidents. In February 2012, he was arrested when he was found unwell outside a church in Sanger, Texas. Charges were pressed due to him being in public while in that state. He was found unclothed six months later, next to his car, where he had been involved in an accident.
An arrest warrant was issued, as well as retaliation charges against the police. A dashcam video shows him telling the police that he’d attack them. Randy fought to keep the tape from being released publicly but lost. In the wake of the video being widely seen, Travis apologized for his actions.
Travis Suffered a Stroke
As a result of congestive heart failure, Randy Travis suffered a stroke in 2013. The stroke affected the left side of Travis’ brain. His heart stopped completely at one point, and the emergency room administered an induced coma to protect his brain. Doctors estimated that he had a 1% chance of surviving.
As he lay in a coma, Mary Davis, his fiancée, was advised that they should take him off life support. His hand squeezed Mary’s, assuring her he could recover. During Travis’ six-month hospital stay, he underwent brain surgery. In addition to tour dates, he had a TV pilot role in the works at that time.
Learning to Walk
Travis was forced to learn to walk again. As a result of the stroke, he was also unable to speak or sing. Travis once stated that he was brave many times in his life and has faced harsh times but never gave up, even when he felt he should. There was no sign of quitting then, and he had no intention of quitting now.
He and Mary were married in 2015. The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted him in 2016, and he performed “Amazing Grace” during the event.
Randy Travis and Garth Brooks’ Relationship
Randy Travis and Garth Brooks have recorded some of the biggest country music hits of all time. Travis introduced a contemporary sound to the country and gospel music genres during the 1980s and 1990s through his TV show Taste of Country. Around the same time, Brooks also took up the country music tradition. Brooks also drew inspiration from the traditional music roots of the genre, expanding its scope to unprecedented success comparable to many rock n roll artists.
It’s not surprising that two successful artists born around the same time would be familiar with each other. Randy Travis and Garth Brooks are certainly examples of this. Recent revelations concerning Randy Travis and Garth Brooks give their friendship an added sense of sentimentality – as if it were the tale of an actual country song.
The first hit song by Randy Travis, entitled “Storms of Life,” paved the way for Garth Brooks to release his self-titled debut album in 2003. Both recording artists share a mutual admiration for one another. Brooks said that it was Randy Travis who saved country music.
No other artist has ever taken a format, turned it 180° in the opposite direction, and made it more successful. Additionally, Brooks expressed his undying admiration for Travis in 2017. Whenever he thinks of Randy Travis, he wishes he would appear again. He stated that he’s only experienced that once in his lifetime.
An Influencer to Garth Brooks
At the 2021 CMT Artist of the Year ceremony, it came out that Garth Brooks and Randy Travis have a complex and deep relationship. Brooks would present the Artist of a Lifetime award to Travis at the event. As reported by Taste of Country, Brooks informed the crowd that he was proud to be a benefactor of Travis’s dedication to country music.
According to Brooks, Randy Travis’ unique blend of classic country and gospel deeply influenced his songwriting, leading to Brooks’ own classic country blended with modern influences.
The Feeling Is Mutual
Randy Travis has a warm place in Brooks’ heart that is not one-sided. As a result of the CMT ceremony, Travis posted an emotional response on social media, saying he’s thankful for the existence of Garth Brooks.
As a relatively young musician, Travis is also grateful for the support he received early on. Travis says that the two don’t see each other as often as they’d like, but they both know they’re there for each other. Just like Brooks, Travis says Brooks helped keep country music alive.
Fools Love Affair
Even though Randy Travis can no longer sing as well as he used to, he’s still working hard. In 2020, he released his first single, “Fool’s Love Affair,” to celebrate his stroke recovery. The song was co-written by Charlie Monk, who proposed its release.
Before releasing the single, Randy worked hard to maintain his career. As part of his 2019 tour, Randy was accompanied by James Dupré, a singer who performed all of Randy’s songs. In the same year, he published his memoir, Forever and Ever, and today he sings duets with fans on TikTok.
He Never Had Children
The age difference between Randy Travis and his former wife accounted for much of the reason that they never had children. The upbringing Randy received and the different personalities of his parents influenced him throughout his life in different ways.
Even though Travis dreamed of having children, Hatcher and Randy didn’t quite get around to having children. Travis wanted a happy family, but he didn’t have any children. Travis did, however, get his wish when he became a stepfather.
Where Is He Now?
A cover image of his new book has been revealed, written in collaboration with Ken Abraham.
In the words of the country icon, the book details his early life, including his rise to fame after the release of “Storms of Life” in 1986. This book explores Travis’s music career, numerous achievements, and darker past.
What Is the Book About?
Throughout the book, Travis discusses his usage of adult beverages, the breakup of his marriage with his former manager, Lib Hatcher, and his financial struggles. He provides a detailed account of the epic battle. During the stroke, Travis lost his ability to walk and speak, and although he regained his capacity to walk, he still has severe speech difficulties.
As Travis continues to live, he realizes how important it is to share his story and reflect on his life. Watching the clocks of time expose so much is an interesting game of patience. With the candle burning, let us explore the history that shaped him into who he is, tell the story behind some of his songs, discuss the obstacles he faced, and appreciate his accomplishments.
Still Living Life
With over 25 million records sold, Travis remains a legend. His life may now also include a lesson learned through persistence. His health has been perfect so far. He doesn’t visit the doctor apart from six-month check-ups. As a result of the stroke, he’s only on medication to control the seizures he’s been experiencing.
The couple hires a physical therapist and remains committed to enjoying life, attending dinners and movies with friends. His main objective is to stay healthy and not budge from the course. There’s no better therapy than living your life!
November 24, 2022, marked the 31st anniversary of the death of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen and one of the biggest music stars of the 20th century. His powerful voice, his movements on stage and his easy-going personality won him the appreciation of millions of fans around the world. However, her life was not exempt from controversies, mysteries and scandalous notes. Discover with us 45 curious facts and secrets about Freddie Mercury’s exotic life.
Freddie Mercury’s real name was Farrokh Bulsara. His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were Parsees from India. Following an order from the British Colonial Office, the couple moved to the island of Zanzibar, where the artist was born on September 5, 1946.
It is known that Mercury always disliked his name. Given the difficulty of pronouncing it correctly, his fellow boarding school students at Panchgani began calling him “Freddie”. The “Mercury” would come from a verse of his song “My Fairy King”.
An Ancient Religion
Because of their Parsi origin, the entire Bulsara family (including Freddie himself) were followers of Zoroastrianism, whose central figure, Zoroaster, was considered the first and greatest prophet in history. It is a religion born in ancient Persia (now Iran) that also enjoyed a strong presence in India.
In fact, Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world, and in its time exerted a remarkable influence on other later religions, such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Freddie’s father, Bomi Bulsara, worked as a cashier for the British High Court, which is why he traveled frequently between India and Zanzibar. On the other hand, this job would allow them to become British nationals and enjoy the corresponding privileges.
The father’s good earnings allowed Freddie to enjoy an affluent childhood. They lived in a beautiful apartment in the Stone Town neighborhood of Zanzibar’s historic district, a place full of stores and bazaars overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Another of the privileges of the Bulsara family was the possibility of having a good number of domestic servants. In fact, the child Freddie was in the care of Sabine, a nanny whose face is able to convey all the severity of the trade.
But beyond the surviving photographs, very little is known about Sabine. We are left with the consolation of imagining that it was she who heard the first babblings of one of the greatest voices in rock history.
From Zanzibar to India
Upon reaching the age of five, Freddie began his studies at St. Joseph’s Convent Missionary School, which was run by Anglican nuns. He stayed there for almost three years, because after celebrating his eighth birthday he was sent, with part of his family, to study in India.
He boarded at St. Peters College in Panchgani, a region famous for the quality of its educational institutions. It is during this stage that the boy Freddie would shed his shyness and begin to develop his characteristic outgoing personality.
Even before music, one of young Freddie Mercury’s earliest passions was collecting postage stamps from both Zanzibar and the United Kingdom and even various British colonies. The philatelic passion lasted about three years, from the age of nine to 12.
The Freddie Mercury stamp collection was acquired by the Postal Museum in London in 1993. Since 2016 it has been displayed alongside the collection of another British rock legend – John Lennon.
Within St. Peters College, Freddie Mercury had his first contacts with music. He learned to play the piano, to compose songs and began to sing. In fact, in 1958 he put together his first band, The Hectics, which played at private events at the institution.
The other members of The Hectics were Farang Irani, Victory Rana, Derrick Branche and Bruce Murray. The latter was the only one other than Freddie to pursue a musical career. The band disbanded in 1962, the year Freddie returned to Zanzibar.
Flight to England
In 1963 a series of social and political conflicts would begin in Zanzibar that would lead to the so-called “Zanzibar Revolution”. The African revolutionaries sought to overthrow Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah and form an autonomous government.
In the midst of this tense climate, the Bulsara family decided to move to England when Freddie was 17 years old. They settled in a small house in the county of Middlesex. The parents would have a hard time adjusting to their new life, but Freddie had arrived in the land that would see him make history.
In the few interviews he gave, Freddie Mercury was always reluctant to talk about his childhood and youth in Zanzibar. His answers on the subject were vague and denoted the little affection he felt for his birthplace.
It is clear that for Freddie it was of vital importance to maintain a separation between his intimate life and his artistic career. On the other hand, many speculate that this estrangement was due to the impossibility of showing his true personality in the strict social and religious environment of Zanzibar.
Despite this, Freddie Mercury has become a beloved figure in his homeland. In fact, it was precisely in Zanzibar that the world’s first museum dedicated to the life of one of the greatest stars in rock history was inaugurated in November 2019.
Located in Stone Town, The Freddie Mercury Museum focuses on the singer’s early years. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the museum has temporarily closed its doors, but they hope to resume offering guided tours soon.
Freddie told how, when he was still a young school student, he enjoyed playing certain sports. And that, moreover, he had great skills for them. For example, table tennis, field hockey and boxing. He commented that he was brilliant in the ring.
On the other hand, he was not at all fond of some typical English games, such as soccer or cricket. Perhaps, if Mercury’s musical career didn’t take off, there could have been a historical boxer with a privileged throat.
The Origin of Queen
Once in England, Freddie Mercury began studying Graphic Design at Ealing College of Arts. Around this time he joined a band called Wreckage, specializing in blues, with whom he played in his spare time.
Shortly thereafter he met Roger Taylor and Brian May, who in turn had a band called Smile. Mercury decided to join them as vocalist, and it would not be long before Smile changed its name to Queen.
Rising From the Ashes
It is known that it was Freddie Mercury who designed the legendary band’s logo. His inspiration for it was to unite in a single image the representative figure of the zodiac signs of each of the members.
However, there is one figure that does not belong to any of the zodiac animals: the phoenix. This mythological animal has multiple implications. The best known of them all is that the phoenix could be reborn from its ashes, representing the spirit of the band.
A Fortunate Incident
One of the most curious features of Queen performances, was to see Freddie Mercury walking around the stage with a stand microphone with the base detached. That way he could move and gesticulate more easily.
According to legend, the origin of the microphone’s colorful appearance lies in an incident. It is said that, during a college dance, Mercury struggled with a stand microphone and the base broke. From then on he preferred to use it that way and made it his trademark.
Pianist of Atypical Places
Even musical geniuses can come to doubt their talent if they are not confident enough. This happened to Freddie Mercury when he had a piano in front of him. He never really considered himself a virtuoso pianist.
However, he did compose his songs through that instrument. He had a piano near his bed, to compose the songs that came to his mind when he was dreaming. It is even said that he composed “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in the bathroom, with a piano over the bathtub.
Mercury vs. Bowie
Freddie Mercury once helped David Bowie when Bowie was going to give a concert at the university and did not have the necessary equipment to start the performance. Some time later, Mecury and Bowie would end up collaborating on the song “Under Pressure”.
But as you might expect, it wasn’t all roses. Due to the strong personalities of both artists there were confrontations between them during the recordings. Fortunately, Bowie later always expressed a deep admiration for Freddie Mercury.
Freddie’s talent was not only in his voice. He was the main composer of Queen songs, along with Brian May. Anyway, he was open to receive recommendations and ideas from the rest of the band.
Mercury’s inspiration could strike at any moment, and he didn’t plan to waste any of those instants, so his assistants carried pens and notebooks at all times. For example, the song “Life Is Real,” dedicated to John Lennon, was written during an airplane flight.
Another of Freddie Mercury’s most notorious traits was his huge, protruding teeth, the product of four extra teeth pushing out the others. Mercury had a hard time overcoming his complex about his strange teeth; in fact, he was often seen with his hand over his mouth, in an attempt to hide this dental defect.
He also famously feared dental visits. She preferred never to align her teeth for fear of ruining her wonderful voice or losing vocal tessitura.
Mercury vs. Vicious
One of the most heated rivalries in rock history began in a recording studio, between Freddie Mercury and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. The confrontation between the two began with a perfidious comment from Vicious: “Have you managed to bring ballet to the masses yet?”
The comment alluded to the ballet slippers Mercury used to wear. In a way it was also a mockery of his effeminate mannerisms. Mercury was extremely annoyed, grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him out of the studio.
This anecdote is told by actress Cleo Rocos. According to her own words, in 1988 she managed to infiltrate Princess Diana to the gay bar Royal Vauxhall Tavern, where both of them, along with Freddie Mercury and comedian Kenny Everett, ended up watching the famous series The Golden Girls.
A leather jacket and hat were enough for Lady Di to enter the venue unnoticed. Given Princess Diana’s personality, this story is not so far-fetched and is, to some extent, quite believable.
A Mystery for Science
After Freddie Mercury’s death, many scientists have been interested in studying his glorious voice. It is often said that Mercury had a vocal range of four octaves, in addition to a very particular tone of voice.
Recent studies have not been able to prove whether indeed the rock star had such a wide vocal range, but that he was a baritone with tenor-like capabilities and a vibrato more powerful than that of many opera singers.
Multitude of Women
Freddie Mercury’s sexual orientation has always been a subject of controversy. Despite being perceived as a gay icon, it is possible that his orientation has tended more towards bisexuality. In fact, it is known that he had many women in his personal life.
During his stay in Munich he lived together with the porn actress Barbara Valentin. On the other hand, in 1969 he was about to marry Mary Austin, perhaps the woman with more presence in his life. The marriage did not materialize, but they were close friends until the end.
A Constant Performer
In addition to music and dancing, Freddie enjoyed other artistic attractions, such as painting. His house was filled with works of art, he even had a Picasso painting in the bathroom. He frequently attended auctions where he acquired different works and collected them. He had a special fondness for Japanese antiques.
All this artistic influence was inspirational for his music. For example, the song “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke”, from the album “Queen II”, was composed after seeing a painting in the Tate Gallery in London.
One habit Freddie Mercury had with his close friends was to call each other by feminine nicknames, worthy of drag queens. For example, Elton John, who was a close friend of Mercury’s, was called “Shanon” by him.
During the Christmas after Mercury’s death, Elton John received a package as a gift. The package contained a pillow that had belonged to Freddie, and was accompanied by a dedication: “Dear Sharon, I thought you might like to have it. Love, Melina. Merry Christmas.”
Among the many collaborations throughout Freddie Mercury’s career, his songs with none other than Michael Jackson, the undisputed King of Pop, stand out. These two songs are “There Must Be More To Life Than This” and “State Of Shock”.
Between the two there was very good harmony, and it is strange that there were not more collaborations. Some versions point to a disagreement produced by Freddie’s addictions, and others blame it on Michael’s unpleasant pets, whose presence on the set irritated Mercury.
Nose, Teeth and Hair
It seems incredible just to think about it, but for one night in the 1980s a rock band consisting of Rod Stewart, Elton John and Freddie Mercury came close to existing. Even a name was chosen for it: Nose, Teeth & Hair, in reference to the characteristic features of each musician.
However, it all ended at dawn, when the euphoria of the night passed. The musicians thought better of it and believed they couldn’t sing with each other.
Freddie Mercury’s last partner was stylist Jim Hutton. They loved each other with such intensity that they even wore wedding rings, even at a time when equal marriage seemed a distant utopia.
When Mercury confessed to Hutton that he was an HIV carrier, he told him he understood if he would rather quit. Hutton’s words were truly poignant: “I love you, Freddie, I’m not going anywhere.” Hutton also contracted HIV and ended up passing away from lung cancer in 2010. The memoir “Mercury and Me” discusses their relationship.
Up in Arms
It is well known that Freddie Mercury was one of those who would not be run over by anyone, morally or physically. Someone who knew this very well was the leader of the band Status Quo, Francis Rossi, with whom Mercury had a disagreement during the 1985 Live Aid concert.
Rossi apparently made some jokes about Mercury’s sexual orientation. Mercury jumped on him and pinned him in a headlock. But all indications are that no hard feelings remained between the two, as the two bands played together a few years later.
Love for Cats
If first it was stamp collecting and then it was the love for music, there was also a third passion that Freddie Mercury maintained throughout life: cats. He had many cats in his care throughout his fruitful artistic career.
A sign of this feline passion is the dedication of the solo album Mr. Bad Guy: “This album is dedicated to my cat Jerry. Also to Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and to all the cat lovers in the universe. To everyone else, fuck ’em.”
The Life of the Party
Freddie Mercury’s eccentricity could sometimes go to unsuspected extremes. This can be seen in the way he organized his parties and celebrations. For example, for his 39th birthday he forced the attendees to wear black and white, being the only one who wore bright colors.
Another example is the incredible soiree he organized to celebrate the release of the band’s fourth album: “Jazz”. It is said that the waiters walked around completely naked and handed out illicit substances to the guests.
It is clear that Freddie’s life was spent between excesses and frenetic moments. Touring, touring and partying can wear anyone out. But the singer insisted that for him sleeping just a few hours was enough.
He used to relax a lot when he did this, so with two or three hours each night, he would wake up recharged. Clearly, whatever he might feel, it’s not healthy for anyone to have that short of a sleep. Although the lives of successful musicians can have special characteristics.
Like all great artists, Freddie Mercury was a man who lived his era to the fullest, and assimilated the elements of pop culture very well. Absolutely memorable was the concert in which Mercury walked out on stage on the shoulders of a guy dressed as Darth Vader.
The colorful crossover was rooted in a snippet of the song “Bicycle Race” that goes “I don’t like Star Wars.” But after Star Wars the nods to other American cultural references continued in their presentations, such as Superman or Santa Claus.
A Day to Celebrate
Every year, every September 5, Freddie Mercury Day is celebrated in the town of Montreux, Switzerland. The statue of Mercury there is considered a place of worship and pilgrimage for all lovers of Queen and her music.
Why this particular city? Basically because Mercury lived there for a while until shortly before his death and also because the original Queen studio was located there. Several of the band’s most iconic albums were recorded in Montreux.
Taste for Ballet
We have made reference to the fact that Freddie Mercury used to wear ballet slippers, but the truth is that he was also a lover of this particular style of dance. In fact, he came to perform the public on an occasion that remained for the history.
It happened in 1977, when Wayne Eagling, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, organized a ball to raise money for charity. Mercury appeared on stage and did a spectacular number. The choreography he performed was planned by Eagling exclusively for him.
One of the artists most admired by Freddie Mercury was the Catalan soprano Monserrat Caballé. He himself acknowledged this in an interview he gave for Spanish television during the 1980s.
Luckily for fans of good music, Mercury and Caballé would end up meeting and making a legendary collaboration. It was the song “Barcelona,” an anthem of its time that would later, in 1992, become the official theme song of the Olympic Games.
The Circuit Does Not Include Broadway
Thanks to his majestic voice, Freddie’s career could have had hundreds of different nuances and collaborations. He even came close to starring in La Bohème, a Broadway musical, alongside popular singer Linda Rondstand.
But Mercury rejected the proposal. He clarified that, although he enjoyed going to the theater, ballet and opera, doing a whole season would bore him. He also commented that he would run out of energy. It seems that the rock and roll life was a better fit for him.
Mercury and Maradona
In 1981 Queen began a tour of Latin America, a territory that was not a frequent destination for European rock bands. Freddie Mercury and his bandmates were eager to take their music to new places where they were unsure how they would be received.
The tour was a resounding success. In Argentina, soccer star Diego Armando Maradona attended the concert and personally thanked Mercury for his music. Maradona and Mercury exchanged jerseys and spent some time laughing.
Leaving it All On the Stage
Freddie’s eccentric personality, which made him one of the most admired artists in history, led him to generate extreme situations. The singer tried to channel emotional conflicts through a higher level of adrenaline in his shows.
So it is that, in the run-up to a 1982 performance in London, he argued with Bill Reid, partner at the time, and the latter bit his hand until he made it bleed. It is believed to have been one of the best concerts in Queen’s life.
The Final Single
Significantly named “The Show Must Go On”, Queen’s final single would see the light of day just a few weeks before Freddie Mercury’s death in late 1991. By the time of the recording Mercury was already seriously ill and it was uncertain whether he would be able to sing.
In order to give himself the necessary strength, Mercury ingested a mixture of vodka and other alcoholic beverages and recorded the final version in one take. Snippets of old live video clips were used as a video accompaniment.
Despite having been together for so many years, the truth is that infighting and arguments were constant in Queen. To a certain extent it is normal for artists of such caliber to have differences when it comes to agreeing on certain issues.
It is known the incident in which Freddie Mercury had to mediate between Brian May and Roger Taylor so that these did not come to blows. Mercury himself once stated that this tense atmosphere was key to the band’s success.
An addition that caused even more concern about the future of Queen was Freddie Mercury’s solo venture. The singer spent two years in Munich, Germany, composing his first solo album, which would be titled Mr. Bad Boy.
It was rumored that the new album would compete in sales with “The Works”, the album that Queen released around the same time. However, from this solo experience only “Living On My Own” is considered a hit song.
Freddie Mercury’s style was transgressive and unparalleled. He renewed the rock scene and added a theatricality that, until then, the genre lacked. On the other hand, his flamboyance and irreverence earned him artistic immortality.
Feathers, sequins and low-cut T-shirts were part of Mercury’s usual look, in addition to the multiple costumes he came to wear at concerts. An atypical outfit for a rock star, but one that helped him stand out and leave his mark on the history of music.
Success and Censorship
Freddie’s work, like that of many transgressive artists, also suffered moments of censorship. As he became an icon of the gay community, much more marginalized at the time, the authorities began to pay attention to his messages.
Among the details of his work that suffered censorship is the video of one of his most successful songs: “I Want to Break Free”, where a parody of the British soap opera Coronation Street is made. On the MTV channel in the United States, the video was broadcast only in 1991.
A Historic Concert
Held in 1985, the event called “Live Aid” consisted of two simultaneous concerts, one in London and one in the United States, organized in order to raise funds to fight famine in some African countries. Artists such as U2, Elton John and Led Zeppelin were part of the party.
Nevertheless, it is a unanimous truth that Queen hogged all the limelight. Freddie Mercury’s performance was absolutely legendary and inspiring, and today it is considered the greatest Queen performance of all time.
Record Number of Spectators
Another historic concert took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that same year. The mythical Maracana stadium, home of some of the most remembered sporting events in history, was the stage chosen by Queen to bring their music to the country of samba.
It is estimated that approximately 250,000 spectators attended the concert that day to see Freddie Mercury’s magic up close. The band always claimed that it was the first time in the history of music that a group gathered such an audience.
The Oldest Fans
The band Queen has a particular record, which is even in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is the longest-running fan club in history. It was created in the mid-1970s, to provide and disseminate information about the band.
With more than 40 years of existence, it remains active until today and its manager, Jacky Smith, is a reference for all Queen fans. But also for whoever intends to manage a club in honor of their idols.
A Group of Records
The band led by Freddie is the protagonist of a cataract of historical records for music. Many of which, even today, are hard to beat. One of them has nothing to do with the number of people in a show or records sold, but with the composition.
Queen is the only rock band in which every member composed a song that topped the charts.
The Last Concert
Queen closed the Magic Tour on August 9, 1986 with a concert at Knebworth Park. By that time no one could have suspected that it would be the last time the great rock star, Freddie Mercury, would sing in front of a crowd.
A total of 125,000 people had the privilege of enjoying Mercury’s last live show. The image of the members of Queen arriving by helicopter directly to the stage to show off the best of their repertoire is still remembered.
As with many artists, one of Freddie Mercury’s most controversial facets was his addictions to drink, psychoactive substances and so on…. In fact, it was very common to see him getting drunk at his many parties.
Of course, the consumption of narcotics brought more than one problem to the singer, such as the breakup of relationships with friends and close ones. Mercury’s libertine life had several excesses that would end up taking its toll not only on his personal life but also on his health.
Rumors About His Health
Rumors about Freddie Mercury’s health condition started in the year 1987, one year after his live show. His absence from the stage and some comments from his boyfriend, Jim Hutton, suggested that the singer could be ill with AIDS.
Being a disease that spread rapidly in those years, and about which there were important prejudices, Mercury preferred to deny in an interview that he suffered from it. In the end, however, he ended up admitting he had AIDS the day before he died.
It is likely that Mercury could have done more to treat his illness. Of course, knowledge about AIDS was not the same at the time. However, during his deterioration he only took common painkillers and was denied other medication.
Freddie’s real therapy was music. Guitarist Brian May recounted that he was obsessed with songwriting. He didn’t fear the disease, but he did constantly ask him to write songs so he could sing.
A Sad End
Freddy Mercury died in his mansion, in London, on November 24, 1991, at the age of 45. The cause of death was bronchopneumonia resulting from complications with AIDS. His family, close friends and some artists were present at the funeral ceremony.
One of the mysteries that still remains around Mercury’s death is the place where his ashes rest. On the other hand, the substantial fortune he amassed during his lifetime was divided between his friend Mary Austin and next of kin.
The Show Must Go On
Freddie Mercury’s last song was “The Show Must Go On”, and the truth is that Queen continued their activity without him. In 1995 “Made in Heaven” was released, the band’s fifteenth album, featuring the songs Mercury recorded during his final years.
After Mercury’s death and John Deacon’s retirement in 1997, Roger Taylor and Brian May decided to continue working and keep the Queen name. Currently they still play, but without Mercury’s magic things are not the same.
There are two important legacies that a star like Freddie Mercury has left to the world. The first is undoubtedly his music, his uninhibited style and his prodigious voice. All this has served as inspiration for millions of people around the world.
The second has to do with activism on behalf of AIDS patients. It may not be understood today, but at the time it was almost impossible for a celebrity to admit to having the disease. Mercury’s confession served to make visible a problem that still continues.
Voices From Beyond
In 2014, when more than 20 years had passed without Freddie, Brian May and Roger Taylor decided to release an unreleased song that featured his vocals. The track was unfinished, but it held a vocal record of the singer, which they decided to present to the world through an AIDS awareness campaign.
So it was that “Let Me In Your Heart Again” was released, a new Mercury song, released decades after his physical demise and reconnecting his majestic voice with fans’ nostalgia.
It Went All the Way to Grunge
The number of musicians and artists who found inspiration in Mercury’s voice and work are beyond counting. In the decades following his existence, dozens of rock subgenres emerged. Among the most important, American grunge.
His top man, Kurt Cobain, revealed that he had great admiration for Freddie. Especially for his ability to relate to the public and feel loved. Something he could not achieve, as he told in his farewell letter.
The Show Does Go On
It is impossible to know how Freddie’s relationship with new technologies would be. Especially with social networks. But we do know that his music has adapted very well and does not lose its relevance. On the contrary: in 2019, the video of “Bohemian Rhapsody” became the first music hit before 1990 to reach one billion views on YouTube.
The song, which is nearing its half-century anniversary, continues to break records no matter what platform it’s on.
Conquering Even Space
In 2016, the year the singer would have turned 70, a very special, and quite unique, gift was made. An asteroid, located in the belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, was named “17473 Freddiemercury”, in honor of the great influence his figure had on the world.
It was announced by guitarist Brian May, who is also an astrophysicist, through a video. Another record for Freddie: the first artist to conquer outer space.
Since 2005 Taylor and May have done several tours that seek to revitalize the Queen name. For this they have used the pre-recorded voice of Freddie Mercury. They have also made collaborations with different singers, such as Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert.
They are currently on a tour called “The Rhapsody Tour”, which seeks to capitalize on the success of the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic. The pandemic-hit tour is scheduled to end in 2022.
If there was one thing Freddie Mercury fans were waiting for, it was a movie that would honor the life and work of the man who was considered by many to be the greatest singer of the 20th century. This dream came true in 2018, with the release of Bohemian Rhapsody.
The film received rave reviews, and even won the prestigious Golden Globe in the Best Motion Picture Drama category. Particularly celebrated was the performance of Rami Malek, who played Mercury, and received an Oscar for his excellent role.