Oh, to be Freddie for a day

You couldn’t do this with any other song. Go into a chatroom where people from all round the world are connected at any one time. A guild chat in an online game will do. Type these words:

I see a little silhouetto of a man…

Not only will you immediately receive the appropriate response – Scaramouche, Scaramouche will you do the fandango? – but your contacts will happily provide you with the lyrics for the entire song. Quite possibly in time to the music as well.

Extravagant, hugely talented, handsome, ridiculous Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, left an enormous mark on rock music when he died of AIDS-related causes in November 1991. He was one of the first celebrities to openly succumb to the virus, even if his illness was not officially named until the weekend he died because of the social opprobrium attached to “the gay disease”. And indeed, the inevitable vicious comments from the ignorant and hateful filled the media. However, there was also a lot of public support from others, such as Elton John. The three surviving members of Queen released a short documentary celebrating his life and ending with the statement “Freddie was our friend and we loved him”. They also set up a charity, dubbed The Mercury Phoenix Trust, to promote AIDS awareness worldwide.

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