Music | October 31, 2018 3:50 pm

Freddie Mercury’s Legacy Must Include Roots In Asia and Africa

Queen's lead singer is remembered as one of the greatest rock performers in history.

Freddie Mercury is remembered as one of the greatest rock performers and great voices in history. Over a quarter century after his death, the lead singer of Queen is held in the highest regard. But few fans realize that he was also the first major international pop superstar with Asian and Africa roots.

“This is the thing with Freddie Mercury: I think he operated in at least four closets in his life,” said Jason King, an Associate Professor at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Music, according to NBC News. 

King says that two of those closets, his sexuality and later his AIDS diagnosis, have been widely written about. But his race and nationality, the other two closely held secrets, are rarely talked about.

Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara to Parsi parents living in Zanzibar. He was sent to India to be educated at St. Peter’s School, an all-boys boarding school in what was then known as Bombay.

The family later moved to England.

“It’s interesting to see how much people still think he was a white British dude,” said Pakistani novelist Nadia Akbar.

Some try to suggest that Mercury hid his ethnic background, but King said nothing in historical records suggests that.

“When you go back and look back at the early interviews he did, particularly with the British press around Queen in the 1970s, he’s asked very often about his background,” King said. “He’ll say ‘yes I’m from Zanzibar, here are my parents.’”

But many fans just weren’t listening at the time.