Days ahead of what would have been his 70th birthday, late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has been immortalised with a blue plaque at his childhood home in Feltham.
To celebrate and honour the life and career of the beloved musician, the English Heritage plaque was unveiled by his sister Kashmira Cooke and fellow band mate and guitarist Brian May, at the family home on Gladstone Avenue on Thursday (September 1).
Ms Cooke said: "Mum and I are so proud and pleased that English Heritage is honouring our Freddie with a Blue Plaque, and that he will be amongst other famous names for ever. “Secretly he would have been very proud and pleased too."
She recalled how, while living in Feltham, her brother was always sketching or tapping his fingers and humming as if thinking of his next song or listening to the likes of Cream and his hero Jimi Hendrix.
Other fond memories included his love for Tom and Jerry cartoons and collecting cuttings of Andy Capp comic strips from the daily newspaper and how he spent hours grooming his hair – much to her annoyance as the house had only one bathroom.
Freddie, born on September 5, 1946 in Zanzibar, started his first band The Hectics while at boarding school in India in 1958.
His parents, Jer and Bomi Bulsara, moved to the UK where they bought the terrace house at number 22 in west London in 1964.
Growing up Freddie studied A Level Art at Isleworth Polytechnic in Isleworth (now West Thames College), followed by a Diploma in Graphic Art and Design at Ealing College of Art in Ealing , where he met future Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.
To get himself through college he had to pick up jobs including washing dishes in kitchens at nearby Heathrow Airport.
It was in 1970 he changed his last name to Mercury, and with Roger Taylor and Brian May started a new band with himself as lead vocalist, and suggesting the name of Queen.
Dr Brian May said: “It is a pleasant duty to help install this little reminder on Freddie’s parents’ house in Feltham.
“It was here that I first visited Freddie soon after we had met through a mutual friend.
“We spent most of the day appreciating and analysing in intimate detail the way that Jimi Hendrix had put his recordings together in the studio - listening to Hendrix on vinyl played on Freddie's Dansette record player - which had stereo speakers on opposite sides of the box! Feltham was the childhood neighbourhood for both of us but we never knew it until we met in the cause of music.”
Queen signed to EMI records in 1972 scoring their first single success with Seven Seas of Rhye in 1974; while Bohemian Rhapsody still remains the third best selling UK single ever.
Other musicians to be honoured with English Heritage Blue Plaques include Freddie’s idol, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Sir Peter Bazalgette, English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel Member, said: “Before Freddie became Freddie Mercury, this small house was where he lived and took the first steps towards stardom. English Heritage’s blue plaques celebrate the great men and women whose achievements endure and Freddie Mercury – singer, songwriter and producer – was certainly one of our greatest musical talents. He was truly a champion.”
English Heritage have commemorated the life and legacy of one of the greatest musicians of all time with a Blue Plaque in a year which also marks the 25 anniversary of his death, on November 24, 1991.