Much like the music he wrote, Freddie Mercury's life, brief as it was, is hard to pin down.
Take "Bohemian Rhapsody," for example. That six-minute track, one of rock music's all-time best and most-beloved, is an exercise in excess. It's a ballad, then it's a melodramatic opera, then it's a head-banging rocker, then it turns quietly introspective; all tied together by a lyric that expresses a longing for freedom and an admission of guilt. It's beauty and it's torment, all at once.
Somehow, whether he knew it or not, it's the song of Mercury's life.
The iconic Queen frontman, whose story has been brought to life on the big screen by Rami Malek in the new biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, began life not as Freddie Mercury, but as Farrokh Bulsara. Born in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania, then a protectorate of Britain, in 1946 to Parsi parents, followers of the Zorastrian religion whose ancestors came from Persia.