Freddie Mercury was best known for his powerful vocal abilities including a vocal range of four octaves, and his charisma as a live performer. As a songwriter, he composed many internationally successful numbers, including Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody to Love, We Are the Champions, Bicycle Race, Don't Stop Me Now, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Mercury's death in 1991 from AIDS served to greatly increase public awareness of the disease.
Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town on the African island of Unguja (the largest island of the Zanzibar archipelago - at the time a British colony, now part of Tanzania). His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were Indian Parsis, descendents of 10th century Persian Zoroastrian immigrants in India. The family had emigrated to Zanzibar in order for Bomi to continue his job as a middle-ranking cashier at the British Colonial Office. Mercury had one younger sister, Kashmira.
Mercury was sent back to India as a child to attend St. Peter's boarding school near Bombay (now Mumbai). It was at St. Peter's where he learned to play the piano and joined his first band, The Hectics. He stayed in India for most of his childhood, living with his grandmother and aunt. Mercury completed his education in India at St. Mary's High School in Mazagon before returning to Zanzibar. He was 17 when he and his family finally fled to England, as a result of the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. In England, he earned a Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, following in the footsteps of Pete Townshend.