Freddie Mercury created himself out of thin air. Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar and raised in India until a teenager, Mercury turned himself into one of the greatest writers and performers in the history of popular music. His four-octave range was legendary, and he used it to power through blockbuster hits like “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Are the Champions,” and the irresistible anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Mercury died in 1991 of complications from AIDS, cutting short the life and career of a man who transformed music in his lifetime. His band, Queen, continues to sell albums thanks in large part to Mercury’s enduring popularity. About 50 percent of their 34 million records were sold after Mercury’s death. We remember Mercury’s life as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
A child prodigy, whose father had a jazz band, Miles was playing with Wilson Pickett in the ’60s when guitarist Mike Bloomfield asked him to form Electric Flag, a band that would fuse soul, rock, and blues. Originally known for his powerhouse drumming, Miles also became known as a soulful rock singer on a million-selling 1972 live album recorded with Carlos Santana. Read more
1946: Freddie Mercury, Tanzanian-English singer-songwriter who was the lead singer for rock band Queen, is born in Stone Town, Sultanate of Zanzibar.
As a singer, he was bombastic, with a four-octave range that swept from a low growl to soaring heights. As a songwriter, he was boundlessly creative, trying a little something new every time and offering intricate arrangements. And as a performer, he was darn-near godlike, packing stadiums and delighting audiences with his theatrical antics and fantastic music. Read more
1939: John Stewart, U.S. singer-songwriter who was a member of the Kingston Trio and wrote “Daydream Believer,” made famous by the Monkees, is born in San Diego, California.
Stewart, who left the Kingston Trio shortly before the Monkees released “Daydream Believer” in 1967, went on to record nearly four dozen solo albums, including the critically acclaimed “California Bloodlines” and “Bombs Away Dream Babies.” The latter included the hit single “Gold,” in which he dueted with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. But, as with “Daydream Believer,” he was likely known best for writing songs for others, including Joan Baez, Nanci Griffith, Roseanne Cash, and Anne Murray. Read more
1916: Frank Shuster, Canadian comedian who was one-half of the comedy duo Wayne and Shuster, is born in Toronto, Ontario.
1912: Frank Thomas, U.S. animator who was one of Walt Disney‘s original team of animators, is born in Fresno, California.
1912: John Cage, U.S. composer known best for his composition “4’33”,” in which none of the musicians play a note, is born in Los Angeles, California.
1903: Gloria Holden, English-American actress known best for starring as the title character in “Dracula’s Daughter,” is born in London, England.
1902: Darryl F. Zanuck, U.S. film producer who won Academy awards for “How Green Was My Valley,” “Gentleman’s Agreement,” and “All About Eve,” is born in Wahoo, Nebraska.
1847: Jesse James, U.S. criminal who was one of the icons of the Wild West, is born in Kearney, Missouri.