Standing nearly ten feet tall – as is only appropriate for such a larger than life figure – Irena Sedlecka’s sculpture of Freddie Mercury was unveiled five years and one day after his death on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Montreux, Switzerland. It shows Mercury in one of his more iconic images, his cut off mike stand in one hand, and the other thrust into the air, while his face wears an expression of sheer exultation familiar to anyone who ever saw Queen play.
The ceremony was attended by the sculptor, Mercury’s father, his bandmates from Queen Roger Taylor and Brian May, and Montserrat Caballé, with whom he had worked in the last years of his life. The statue stands there still, a tribute to a champion, a man whom even death could not stop.
A true giant of popular music, and the possessor of one of the finest voices ever to grace a song, Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, died at the age of 45 after a protracted struggle with AIDS. An openly gay man, Mercury had contracted the disease some years earlier, being diagnosed in 1987, but chose to conceal his illness from all but his nearest and dearest, including the other three members of Queen, until relatively shortly before his death. This desire for privacy has unfortunately tainted his legacy somewhat, as he arguably could have done much to promote awareness of AIDS had he announced his infection sooner – although this would likely have taken a greater toll on his health and seen him die even sooner.
Mercury left behind him an incredible range of musical accomplishments, both as singer and songwriter. In particular, he wrote 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits volume one: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bicycle Race”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Play the Game” – all of them still played frequently on radio to this day. He was also a consummate showman in concert, rivaled only by Bowie and Jagger in his ability to charm a crowd.