I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up in a time when Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, was alive and popular. I didn’t start listening to music until the 90s and sadly by then he was gone. That didn’t stop me, in adulthood, from chasing down everything he and Queen did, both musically and visually. I couldn’t get enough of their writing, his singing, and all that amazing music. And I still can’t get enough to this day.
Imagine my glee when I discovered that there is a worldwide remembrance on Freddie’s birthday. Every September 5th is Freddie For a Day. People all over the world dress up like Freddie Mercury to celebrate his life and to help promote awareness of AIDS. In many cases, people actually acquire sponsors whose donations go to AIDS charities.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Freddie For a Day, and I’m psyched to participate. I’ll be wearing some Freddie-esque attire to work, possibly including a moustache. I’ll also be hosting a Freddie bash for my friends. And, of course, any holiday wouldn’t be complete without the appropriate reading material to get me in the spirit of it all.
40 Years of Queen by Harry Doherty is designed to look like the ultimate roadie’s scrapbook. Band members Brian May and Roger Taylor introduce this authorized history of the band, complete with reproductions of memorabilia and over 200 photos. If you don’t have a lot of time but really want to learn more about Queen, you’ll definitely want to check out this book.
Is This the Real Life? The Untold Story of Queen by Mark Blake and Mercury: an Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones are still on my to-be-read shelf. Both are written by former music journalists who have not only done their research but also conducted new interviews with everyone central to Queen and Freddie Mercury. Each book is about 400 pages long—but don’t worry. There are many pages of photos in each to keep you going.
Proper holidays also demand some great music for an appropriately festive celebration. For Freddie For a Day, we have at our disposal the majestic music from both Queen:
A Night at the Opera (Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon and Seaside Rendezvous, while not the obvious hits, are still my favorites from this album)
Jazz (Dreamers Ball and Don’t Stop Me Now are my all-time favorite Queen songs)
Sheer Heart Attack (Killer Queen and Now I’m Here get me moving—and singing—every time)
News of the World (mega hits like We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions dominate, but Spread Your Wings will warm your heart)
Platinum Collection: Greatest Hits I, II, III (Under Pressure, Seven Seas of Rhye, and Princes of the Universe hold their own against Hammer to Fall and Crazy Little Thing Called Love)
…and Freddie on his own:
Lover of Life, Singer of Songs: the Very Best of Freddie Mercury Solo (The Great Pretender and I Was Born to Love You will always break my heart)
There’s also an emotional and in-depth documentary, Queen: Days of Our Lives, that’s worth screening for the more devout Queen follower. Recent candid interviews with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor are interwoven with footage of past interviews with Freddie, Top of the Pops performances, and clips from music videos, both from Queen and Freddie’s solo works.
Freddie For a Day has the potential to spread awareness about a disease that has not been cured, contrary to what many people believe. It also has the potential to be the most fun holiday of them all. So grab your caterpillar moustache and glam-rock attire and join me on September 5th as I remember a great man and become a part of his legacy.