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32 surprising facts about Freddie Mercury

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On September 5, 1946, the man who would become known as Freddie Mercury was born. Here are some things you might not have known about the Queen frontman (and devoted cat fiend) whose iconic voice has been studied by scientists and whose life was turned into an Oscar-winning biopic.

1. Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar.

Freddie Mercury was born in Stone Town, Zanzibar (now Tanzania). His family moved there so that his dad could continue his career at the British Colonial Office. He grew up between Zanzibar and India before moving to Middlesex, England when he was a teenager.

2. Freddie Mercury's birth name was Farrohk Bulsara.

Farrokh Bulsara started going by Freddie when he was at St. Peter's, a boarding school for boys near Mumbai. He legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury around 1970, when Queen was formed.

3. Freddie Mercury once went by the name "Larry Lurex."

Before landing on the stage name Freddie Mercury, the singer performed under the moniker Larry Lurex. He later said the name was a "personal piss-take" of Gary Glitter, whom Mercury did not care for. The one single he released under Larry Lurex bombed on the charts. Luckily, Queen's debut album was released a week later.

4. Freddie Mercury and his family practiced Zoroastrian.

Mercury and family were Parsis and practiced Zoroastrian, one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. Even though he hadn't practiced in years, his funeral was performed by a Zoroastrian priest.

5. Freddie Mercury has four extra teeth.

The teeth were in the back of his mouth, which is what pushed his front teeth forward and produced his trademark overbite. He was self-conscious about the way his teeth appeared, but refused to have them fixed, believing that altering anything about his mouth could change his vocal performances.

6. Freddie Mercury's teeth are responsible for the rise of The Sex Pistols.

In December 1976, Queen had to cancel an appearance on Bill Grundy's "Today" show because Freddie had developed a severe toothache and had to make an emergency visit to the dentist. The Sex Pistols were brought in as a replacement; their appearance was marked by a barrage of profanity, sarcasm, and alleged drunkenness. The shocking display is often pinpointed as the moment they began their meteoric rise.

7. Freddie Mercury was a major stamp collector.

As a tween, Mercury collected stamps from Zanzibar, the UK, New Zealand, and Monaco. His childhood stamp collecting album is one of the few possessions Freddie's family kept after his death; the British Postal Museum acquired it in 1993 and sometimes lends it out for exhibitions, such as a 2016 Stampex show that also included the stamps John Lennon collected (and doodled on) as a child.

8. Freddie Mercury worked as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport.

Long before he became one of the most celebrated singers in music history, Mercury held a slightly less glamorous position: baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. To celebrate Mercury's 72nd birthday, several of British Airways's Heathrow baggage handlers took time out of their day on September 5, 2018 to entertain travelers with a choreographed tribute to their former co-worker.

9. The headboard to Freddie Mercury's bed was a piano keyboard.

Musicians sometimes report that ideas come to them in dreams, and Mercury was prepared to capture inspiration at any time. Before becoming famous, he used an upright piano as the headboard to his bed, and would play it backward when ideas struck. "He was double-jointed and his hands could bend back completely and I think that's where some of the passages from 'Bohemian Rhapsody' started," Mercury's former manager John Reid once........

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