British Rock Star Mercury Dies of AIDS


Rock singer Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the successful British pop group Queen, died Sunday in London, a day after he ended intense media speculation by revealing that he had AIDS, his spokeswoman said.

Mercury, the first major rock star to acknowledge having AIDS, died at his home in Kensington, West London, spokeswoman Roxy Meade said. The performer’s publicity company announced that his death “was the result of bronchial-pneumonia brought on by AIDS.”

Mercury, 45, had issued a statement Saturday through Meade informing fans and others that he was suffering from AIDS.


“I felt it correct to keep this information private to date in order to protect the privacy of those around me,” he said. “However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.”

Born Frederick Bulsara in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), Mercury was the son of a government accountant. He and some friends formed Queen in 1971, and their debut album, “Queen,” was released in 1973.

The band became one of the most popular and commercially successful pop groups of the 1970s.

Their hits included “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

Mercury later released solo albums such as “The Great Pretender,” which also sold well.

“We Are the Champions,” with “We Will Rock You” on its flip side, became a spectacular success for Queen in 1978. “Champions” has become a familiar anthem at sports events and is also heard at gatherings as diverse as high school debates and political meetings.

Elektra Records released Mercury’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” as a single in late 1979, and in two months it moved to No. 1 on the Billboard magazine charts, the first Queen single to do so.


In 1980, Queen chalked up its second No. 1 hit in this country with “Another One Bites the Dust,” by the group’s bassist John Deacon. Mercury said Michael Jackson heard the tune and urged the band to release it as a single.

“Queen was an ambitious band both commercially and creatively,” said Times Rock Music Writer Robert Hilburn. “They did a lot of creative things musically, but they were unabashedly commercial with their flamboyant, gala stage shows.”

A private cremation is to be held this week. The names of any survivors were not released.