Freddie Mercury is a British icon known for being the frontman of the internationally celebrated band Queen. However, he didn’t grow up in the UK.
Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar, Africa. The archipelago is now part of modern-day Tanzania. However, his parents were from India, and this is where Freddie spent the majority of his childhood.
Stick around to learn more about the upbringing of Freddie Mercury.
The Early Years of Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury, was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946, in Stone Town, which was a British protectorate of Zanzibar. This area is now a part of modern-day Tanzania, East Africa.
Freddie’s parents moved to Zanzibar, in order for his father to continue his occupation with the British Colonial Office.
The family is part of the Parsi community of western India, and before relocating, lived in modern-day Valsad, Gujarat.
When he was a young boy, Freddie went to live with relatives in India, which is where he grew up. He was 8 years old when he was sent to St. Peter’s School—a British style boarding school for boys.
Around the age of 17, he moved back to Zanzibar to reunite with his parents. The family lived there together for a brief period.
However, in late 1963, Zanzibar was granted independence from British rule. Barely a month afterward, the Zanzibar Revolution began, in early 1964.
The aim of the revolution was to overthrow the Sultan of Zanzibar and his primarily Arab government. During the revolution, people of Arab identity and appearance were the targets of persecution and violence.
Since Freddie’s family is Parsi-Indian and has ethnic roots in modern-day Iran, they were forced to flee the country.
Immigrating to England
The family left for England and moved into a property in Feltham, West London.
Freddie was able to obtain British citizenship in 1969, due to Zanzibar’s prior status as a British protectorate.
Freddie Mercury declined to talk to the press in any great length or detail about his childhood. However, there are a few known stories from when he was a young boy.
He Collected Stamps
Freddie had a passion for stamp collecting, reportedly inherited from his father. His stamp collection can be viewed in The Postal Museum, in London.
The museum purchased the album in 1993, and the proceeds went to the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an HIV/AIDS organization set up in Freddie’s memory.
In the album there are stamps from Great Britain, Monaco, Aden, and Zanzibar. Reportedly he collected most of the stamps between the ages of 9 and 12.
Stamp collecting enthusiast, Simon Garfield, commented:
“[Freddie’s] collecting level can best be described as ‘artistic,’ for he collected on unusual black album pages and designed his displays with great care for symmetry and color. On one page he used [Great Britain] stamps to spell out the letter ‘F.’”
Freddie Was Part of a Band at Age 12
While at boarding school in India, he joined his very first band, “the Hectics.” The band achieved a certain degree of fame at a local level.
Former bandmate, Farang Irani, asserts that it was Freddie’s talent carrying the band, saying, “He was the only real musician among us.”
Take a look at a Freddie and his friends, posing for a band photo:
He Moved Out Because He Was Too Noisy
Freddie’s mother revealed in an interview the reason why her son left the family home in England:
“He was in his bedroom most of the time and an elderly neighbours were complaining about the noise and he decided to leave home.”
After moving out, Freddie didn’t find success straight away, but in 1973, he along with the other members of Queen released their self-titled debut album.
The band went on to become an internationally renowned group across the world.
Watch and listen to one of their most popular songs below.