He is gone but never ever forgotten. The legend’s Queen bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor remembered him today, as they have every other year, with heartfelt posts. Brian wrote: “His presence is as alive as ever – influencing everything I do – and still brining joy to people all around the world . Viva Freddie !!” We lost him in 1991 but the inimitable irrepressible, unreplaceable Freddie Mercury lives on everywhere in popular culture, videos, songs and images. But, long before he was Freddie, there was a little boy in Stone Town, Zanzibar, off the East Coast of Africa…
Farrock Bulsara was born to Bomi and Jer Bulsara at Zanzibar’s Government Hospital on 5 September, 1946. The island of Zanzibar lies just off the coast of the East African nation of Tanzania, which was a British colony at the time called Tanganyika.
Bomi worked for the British colonial government as a cashier at the High Court. The family had a relatively affluent lifestyle and employed domestic servants, as well as a nanny called Sabine, for young Farrock and, six years later, his sister Kashmira.
The family lived in the Zanzibar district known as Stone Town, in a flat overlooking the sea. The building has been turned into a hotel, with a sign proudly displaying who once lived there.
A selection of pictures from those early years shows a smiling baby and young boy Farrock in a variety of costumes and outfits.
What is immediately noticeable is that he had not yet started to hide his teeth.
Later in life, he was self-conscious of his unusually large front teeth, often smiling with his mouth closed or covering his mouth with his hand when he spoke or laughed.
His friend and live-in PA Peter Freestone revealed that only at home would the star relax enough to take his hand away.
The pictures also show Freddie as a schoolboy in uniform, proudly sitting with a large trophy.
As a young boy, Farrock attended the local Zanzibar Missionary School but was sent thousands of miles away aged 8 to St Peter’s Church of England school in Panchgani, a former British Raj hill station south-east of Bombay – known today as Mumbai.
Although he was so far from home, Farrock’s aunt and grandparents lived nearby and he often spent holidays and weekends with them.
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His love of music flourished in Mumbai and he even formed his first band, the Hectics.
Freddie returned to Zanzibar in 1963, when it obtained independence from the British Empire. However, the increasingly unstable political situation prompted his parents to move the family to the UK in 1974, settling at 22 Gladstone Avenue in Feltham, Middlesex.
Aged 18, Farrock, spent hours in the bathroom teasing his hair and even more hours in his bedroom listening to Jimi Hendrix, sketching artwork and starting to write songs. He was about to take his first steps towards becoming Freddie Mercury.
IMAGES FROM JER BULSARA’S COLLECTION ORIGINALLY SHOWN IN ITV DOCUMENTARY A KIND OF MAGIC