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Posted: 14 Mar 06, 06:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I found this on Wikipedia, and thought it was pretty interesting to read some more about Freddie's parents and Freddie's past before Queen ... I am not debating the discussion as outlined by the Sunday Times, it's just an interesting article to read

I am not sure if this has been posted before, but well ...


Sunday London Times discussion of Asian background

THE GREAT PRETENDER (11/1996 Sunday London Times article)

Freddie Mercury, lead singer of British rock group QUEEN, who died of AIDS in 1991, hid his Asian past. Turned out immaculately in a loose-fitting sudreh - a shirt of white muslin symbolising hisinnocence and purity - the proud eight-year-old boy appeared indistinguishable from dozens of young Parsee Indians undergoing their initiation into the Zoroastrian faith. With rice grains and rose petals flecking his neatly clipped hair, little Farok Bulsara left the traditional Navjote ceremony to smiles from his parents, Bomi and Jer, and returned to his boarding school where he was already being groomed from a privileged colonial adulthood. That was never to be, but another infinitely greater elite awaited young Farok. As Freddie Mercury, the brilliant singer of the rock band Queen, he became one of the world's pop icons. But few of the millions of fans who mourned his death in November 1991 could have had any idea that he was, in fact, Asia's first rock superstar.

So why did Mercury, who might have become a respected and high-profile spokesman for the new generation of integrated British Asians, so ruthlessly deny his roots? And why only now - five years after he died of AIDS-related illness - are those roots being publicity exposed in a collection of previously unseen photographs recently exhibited in London? To discover the answer we must start with his childhood. His father, Bomi, a middle-ranking cashier at the High Court in the then British-controlled East African island of Zanzibar where Farok was born at the Government Hospital on September, 5 1946, hoped his son might become a doctor, lawyer or perhaps even an airline pilot, a profession to which the Parsees increasingly gravitated. His mother, Jer, who relished the cocktail party lifestyle of a civil servant's wife, had similar dreams for her son. To ensure that he had the best education possible they sent him back to India, their homeland, and enrolled him at the exclusive St Peter's School in Panchgani, several hundred kilometres from Bombay in the cool hills of Maharastra.

It seemed their wishes would be fulfilled. Farok, who was seven when he arrived at the school, was a bright pupil and he prospered, though, inevitably, he was nicknamed "Bucktooth" by his fellow pupils. At the age of eight he met his maternal aunt Sheroo Khory when she visited him at the school. Sheroo now 74, says: "I remember him with great affection. Even before I got to the gate, he saw me and came out to greet me. Then he showed me round with great enthusiasm. He was fond of school and made friends easily." Mohammadi Dholkawala, one of Farok's classmates, remembers how the boy topped the class in most subjects in the six years he was at St Peters. Yet it was not only in academic work that Mercury found his metier, Sheroo says: "Farok bagged so many prizes at school. He was an all-round junior champion. He excelled at everything - boxing, fencing, table tennis, you name it. He was also a very talented artist."

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Posted: 14 Mar 06, 06:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

But it was his talent for music which really startled her. Once, while Farok's parents were visiting, his mother began playing the piano and he copied it right away. "He was so small that he had to turn the stool up on its end to reach the keys," says Mrs Khory. "Then he began the tune that his mother had just played. I asked him who taught him and he replied that he'd heard mummy playing it. "Then another time he was listening to the radio. It was Indian music and when it was over he played the same tune. Still, we didn't believe he could do it right off like that. We thought someone must be teaching him.

"But he did once more and we realised he had real talent. That's when his parents arranged for him have special music lessons at school. He must have been about nine or ten." By his mid-teens, there was only one slight concern. Though still neatly groomed, and with his black hair clipped respectfully short, young Farok Bulsara was among a small group of pupils who had cottoned on to a disturbing new import from Western society: rock'n'roll. Supplementing their shirts with bootlace ties and sporting dark sunglasses, the boys had even gone as far as forming the school's first pop group, daringly named The Hectics after Farok's flamboyant piano playing style. About this time his excellent academic record began to falter.

Although the boys were never allowed to perform outside school, Nariman Khory recalls what was probably Farok's first public performance when the family went for dinner and the band at an Italian restaurant struck up How Much Is That Doggy In The Window. Aware that Farok was humming along, a member of the band asked him to join in and he took to the stage and sang. "After the song he was all flushed and shy, but while he was on the stage you could see that he had presence, even at that age," says Nariman.

Some 15 years later, the boy's name having been changed to Freddie Mercury and the piano switched for a twirling microphone stand, his showmanship was to become the trademark of the world's most successful glam-rock band, Queen. By then all traces of India had been removed. Though his aquiline nose, flinty eyes and deep olive complexion gave him a Latino or vaguely Oriental look, few of his many millions of fans ever guessed they were hero-worshipping the first Asian pop star.

Mercury was certainly not about to alert them to the fact. In the few personal interviews that he granted, he deliberately obscured his past, divulging only that hailed from Zanzibar. Some biographers even referred to him as Persian - which, since the Parsees resettled in the Bombay region around the ninth century and consider themselves Indian, is stretching the truth. What brought Mercury to Europe was changing face of African politics. Fearful that their comfortable position might be jeopardised by Zanzibar's independence, Bomi and Jer joined thousands of Asian families seeking a secure future in prosperous Britain. Along with 17-year old Farok and his sister Kashmira, 10 they packed their belongings and arrived in decidedly unexotic Feltham, a London dormitory town under the Heathrow flight-path.

As they moved into Gladstone Avenue, a dreary cul-de-sac of 1930's semi-detached houses, residents peeping through their frilly net curtains at the area's first influx of Asian immigrants raised eyebrows at Jer's traditional sari. The unfamiliar scent of spices wafting from the kitchen window further aroused their suspicion. If their neighbours found themselves lapsing into prejudice, their fears were soon allayed.Within a month, recalls Derick Burgess, who lived nearby, the Bulsaras looked every inch the English family.

The Bulsaras maintained links with the Parsee community. During holidays from Marks & Spencer's Hounslow branch, where she rose to supervisor, Jer returned with Bomi -who worked for an airline-to visit Freddie's grandfather, a respected priest in their home town

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Posted: 15 Mar 06, 18:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thanks very much. Thats was a really interesting read!

Thanks again love!