Twenty years ago today, a singular artist and performer was lost to us.
On November 24th 1991, the British musical icon Freddie Mercury passed away, the victim of a disease that at the time was still largely on the fringe of Western consciousness. But by unexpectedly claiming such a beloved public figure, the stigma associated with AIDS was destined to be short-lived.
The band Queen dominated the British rock scene during the 70s and 80s. And by the height of their success they were, quite literally, as much a national institution as a certain British monarch of the same name! And the antics of their charismatic yet sincere front man (whether on stage or on video) were always a source of great entertainment to the nation.
This LEGO creation is my own tribute to the man Mercury. I wanted to create a model that captured Freddie's energy and joy. And Queen's concert at Wembley Stadium in the summer of 1986 (one of Freddie's final performances with Queen) seemed like the perfect source material. The concert was actually televised nationwide a few months later, and so is probably how many of us remember Freddie now - in that regal yellow jacket, sporty pants, Adidas trainers, and wielding his signature "sceptre" microphone stand.
Despite the enormous cultural blow dealt by Freddie's passing, the popularity of Queen and the memory of Freddie have in no way diminished in the intervening years. There have been numerous tribute concerts, some featuring the surviving members of the band themselves (including a few special performances scheduled this month). The band has also continued to perform their most well-known material with the help of other talented singers. Although for me personally, nothing could top the performances of George Michael, Elton John and David Bowie at the very first tribute concert back in 1992!
Freddie's legacy has also given rise to such worthwhile organizations as the Mercury Phoenix Trust, which funds AID research, and the Mercury Prize, an annual award given to promising new musical talent. The Queen fan base is also still thriving and the band itself is currently working on an album of hitherto unreleased songs featuring vocals by Freddie, thanks to some recently discovered studio tapes.
So, if you happen to remember seeing some old Queen albums hiding at the back of your music collection, dust them off today and spin one for Freddie. Or heck, do it the modern way and download a random Queen track from iTunes.
"The show must go on!"