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At the age of 17, Mercury and his family fled from Zanzibar for safety reasons due to the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution.
File photo taken in the UK, circa 1970.Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage
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Raw emotions at the piano.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The release of Queen's debut album in 1973 was hailed as one of the most exciting developments in rock music.
With bandmate Brian May, on stage in the UK. Ian Dickson/Redferns
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Members of Mercury's former English group Ibex pose in Bolton, Lancashire on August 23, 1969.Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns
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In addition to his music, Mercury will always be remembered for his dramatic fashions.Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images
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Mercury had a wide range of artistic interests and influences, such as ballet, opera, and theater.Ian Dickson/Redferns
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Performing circa 1970.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Mercury with a guest at one of Queen's famous parties. John Rodgers/Redferns
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Performing live at Congresgebouw in The Hague, Netherlands on December 8, 1974. Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
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Mercury, using his background in graphic design, made Queen's crest logo featuring with the zodiac signs of all four band members.Deviant Art/MabMeddowsMercury
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Mercury performs with Queen in June 1979 in Paris, France.Georges De Keerle/Getty Images
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Getting training from a ballet instructor, August 1979.Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images
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Rocking on stage in a kimono. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Mercury's flamboyant stage performances led journalists to allude to his sexuality. Some claim that he was openly gay, but others say he tried to hide his sexuality, as homosexual acts between adults had only just been decriminalized a few years earlier in the UK.Flickr/clender
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To this day, Queen's Greatest Hits remains the biggest selling album in British history, ahead of the likes of The Beatles and Adele.Flickr/clender
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Queen live at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, March 22, 1976.Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images
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Wikimedia Commons/Carl Lender
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Kurt Cobain's suicide note mentions how he both admired and envied the way Mercury "seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd."Fin Costello/Redferns
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On stage in 1985. Dave Hogan/Getty Images
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Queen performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 30, 1980.Waring Abbott/Getty Images
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In a 1986 interview, Mercury said, "I hate doing the same thing again and again and again. I like to see what's happening now in music, film and theatre and incorporate all of those things."Brian Rasic/Getty Images
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Over his career, Mercury performed an estimated 700 concerts around the world with Queen.Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images
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With Jane Seymour during Fashion Aid, November 6, 1985.Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Getting a mustache trim in 1982. Steve Wood/Express/Getty Images
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On stage at Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, June 5, 1982.Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Despite writing songs with intricate melodies, Mercury claimed to not be able to read music very well.Flickr/a a
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Queen was the first foreign rock band ever to play in South American stadiums.Suzie Gibbons/Redferns
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Mercury is embraced by fellow musician Mark O'Toole (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) while sitting with musician Belouis Some (right), 1986.Dave Hogan/Getty Images
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Freddie was a cat lover, and while on tour would call home to talk to his feline friends on the phone.Flickr/Summer1978
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Queen's performance at Live Aid in 1985 has been voted by a group of music executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock music.Flickr/kentarotakizawa
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On the evening of November 24th, 1991, a little over 24 hours after he told the media he suffered from AIDS, Mercury died at the age of 45. Flickr/nico7martin
Freddie Mercury’s Larger-Than-Life Career In 31 Photos
It’s hard to imagine Freddie Mercury as anything other than the frontman of Queen — and yet, he worked at an airport, a secondhand clothing store, and studied graphic design long before he met his future bandmates.
Even before all of that, Mercury was a little boy named Farrokh Bulsara, born in the central African sultanate of Zanzibar. Farrokh’s metamorphosis into Freddie began in the mid-1960s, when his family moved to Middlesex, England.
Soon, after enrolling in the Ealing College of Art, he met Roger Taylor and Brian May, who were already in a band by the name of Smile. Mercury joined the pair, and with the addition of bassist John Deacon, the band Queen was born.
Mercury's range — both in terms of musical genres and vocal abilities — remains unrivaled to this day. Indeed, Mercury could hit a bass low F and a soprano high F, and he penned the majority of Queen's greatest hits, which ranged all the way from heavy metal to disco.
While an extremely extroverted performer, Mercury preferred to keep his personal life out of public view. He was romantically involved with actress Barbara Valentin, DJ Kenny Everett, and hairdresser Jim Hutton, but Mercury's greatest love was a woman named Mary Austin.
As he said of Austin a 1985 interview, "All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary, but it's simply impossible. The only friend I've got is Mary and I don't want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that's enough for me.”
When he died of AIDS in November 1991, Mercury left his home to Austin, with the note, "You would have been my wife and it would have been yours anyway."
As we reach the 25th anniversary of his passing, these Freddie Mercury photos help outline the contours of his life, one cut far too short.