Each year on Sept. 5, I am reminded of my all-time favorite singer, because it is his birthday.

Freddie Mercury, lead singer for Queen, would have been 74 today; he died of AIDS in 1991.

It’s difficult to imagine Freddie being 74 years old, but I’m sure he would continue his high-energy parading on stage even at that age.

I discovered Queen when I was in junior high school. A boy I liked was a fan of Queen. He wasn’t from around there, so he had been exposed to the band in his metropolitan hometown. Of course, by that time, we had all heard “You’re My Best Friend,” but I still didn’t know Queen.

To develop something in common with this boy, I bought a Queen album: A Day at the Races. I was entranced by the variety of styles on the album and, of course, by Freddie’s voice. The range. The projection. His pronunciation. I read the liner notes and the lyrics over and over. I was sold.

By the end of high school, I had every Queen album released in the United States, plus a couple of others. I had joined the Queen fan club and had quarterly correspondence with the offices in the United Kingdom. I would soon see the band in concert twice.

Eventually, I learned about the people who made up the band.

Each one was educated: Freddie had a degree in graphic design and illustration; guitarist Brian May earned a degree in physics; drummer Roger Taylor had a degree in biology; and John Deacon, bassist, had a degree in electronics.

I was distressed to learn Freddie, with as many fans as he had, was lonely and felt unloved. He knew it was difficult for fans to understand because they loved him so much. I can understand, though. We love his persona, not who he really is. Maybe we would love that, too, but he knew there was no way we could know him.

Although he was gay, the only person he truly loved, and felt loved by, was his dear friend and former fiancee, Mary Austin.

“All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible,” Mercury once said of Austin. “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.”

Austin said she felt the same. She was by his side when he died and she said she felt as though they had been married.

Sadly, Freddie’s life illustrates the silent suffering of many in modern society. It’s difficult to connect to others and even more difficult to know who you can trust. I imagine it’s even tougher for those with plenty of money, those who become targets of opportunists.

Freddie’s story is more a lesson in consideration than anything. It teaches us to remember we are all human beings going through rough times. Be kind. To everybody.

(606) 326-2661 |

lward@dailyindependent.com

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