A Borough Royalty

Anyone who is a Queen fan is undoubtedly a fan of Freddy Mercury. It’s hard not to be. The frontman is legend – his vocal range was amazing, wrote songs that only he could perform the way he did, and pushed stage norms to the limits that make the Beatles seem like boarding school boys.

A diehard fan I must admit, I never fail to put aside everything whenever his powerful voice comes on, just to listen, no that’s too mild…more like to immerse in his music in a form of devotion only diehard fans can understand.

So here I am, in little known Feltham Hounslow several miles from central London, in its small sparse library browsing aimlessly until something caught my eye – a book on its local royalty.

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That’s Freddy Mercury in all his glory, a picture book documenting his life including his teenage years in Feltham in a non-descript house when his family first moved from Zanzibar to escape its deadly revolution.

Not sure how long I spent hunched over the book learning more about the great musician born in British India Gujarat region where many early settlers to Singapore came from.

Freddy, his birth name was Farrokh Bulsara, actually attended a boarding school, took piano lessons at the age of seven, was influenced by pioneer Bollywood music, formed a band at 12, called himself “Freddie”, studied Art and Graphic Design, sold second-hand clothes, worked at Heathrow airport, joined/formed/broke up several bands until he changed his surname to “Mercury” and founded Queen with two other musicians.

Coming from a straight-laced society, Mercury’s music in the 70s was like cult culture for me. Can’t remember who introduced Queen to me but for much of my teenage years, I was swept away by his songs, his voice and the spectrum of his music that embraced all known emotions in fiery compositions of beautiful notes and gentle tones. He’s a genius to me, doesn’t matter that he’s openly gay and sadly paid the price for it towards the end.

I remembered Feltham laid a memorial granite star for Freddy Mercury in the piazza near the library. Even had a photo taken Hollywood-style. But it’s gone now, apparently removed by the local council due to neglect and weather damage according to Wikipedia.

Its not important, Freddy Mercury lives on in his music. This little known town may not be known to the rest of the world but its most famous resident lived among us, like any young person from ordinary households yearning to be extraordinary in their passions, if given a chance to develop their talents without inhibitions or prejudices.

Joan Yap

 

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