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The only Zoroastrian rock star I’ve ever heard of

You’ve all checked out today’s Google doodle, right? It would be Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday today, and they pay him a fabulous homage.

Man, that guy had a voice.

He’s also the only rock star from Zanzibar, as far as I know. He was so unique he could have been from a different planet.

Comments

  1. AussieMike says

    A friend of mine had a theory….sorry, hypothesis that any cassette (yes it goes back a bit) that was left in your car for more than two years turns in a copy of Queens Greatest Hits. And Damn……he was right!

  2. Chrisj says

    Actually, it’s older than WW; it’s from “Good Omens”, by pTerry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

  3. Jett Perrobone says

    He was so unique he could have been from a different planet.

    I wonder if that means Bruno Mars was from a different planet too? ;)

  4. jaranath says

    “He was so unique he could have been from a different planet.”

    He probably would have been, but Bowie already had dibs on that schtick.

  5. says

    It was on Google UK yesterday, but not in the US because it was Labor Day. It was thought inappropriate to the sentiment of our holiday — which is strange. Mercury could really work it.

  6. AussieMike says

    Probably from Good Omens. My friend was an avid Terry Pratchett fan but the bugger never gave credit it seems. So well done to all of you who picked that up. Now I have to go and talk to my friend who has made me look like a complete amateur!

  7. Undularbore says

    My sentiments exactly, PZ.
    And it was because of Freddie that I found out what Zoroastrianism is, way back, years ago.
    Freddie, you are missed!

  8. AussieMike says

    @The Lorax says
    Amazing doodle. I smiled the whole way through

    That was his moustache tickling you!

  9. says

    I can’t save the doodles anymore. At least I have my free kindle book until they decide to take it away. I have a bad computer attitude today, and if Sony Vegas crashes ONE MORE TIME I’m going on the warpath.

  10. marcoli says

    Oh, man, this was soo great. I am going to iTunes right now and downloading this song. How could I have forgotten it? Freddie was so hot and talented, and this is coming from a straight man who has been happily in a heterosexual marriage for 18 years. A guy like that can turn another guys head.

  11. Circe says

    He’s also the only rock star from Zanzibar,…

    Although he was born in Zanzibar, his parents were from India*, and he grew up there. Does that make him a rock star from Zanzibar, or a rock star from India?

    *As indeed most Zoroastrians are: In India, they are called Parsis (which I think derives from the fact that they came from Persia, referred to in several Indian languages as “Pharas”).

  12. ChasCPeterson says

    meh

    Always always hated that band. Slick superficiality, imo.

    But carry on without me.

  13. theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme says

    The Indian population along with the Arabs of Zanzibar, where violently and murderously ejected from the island shortly after independence.

    The capital, Stone Town is a most incredible little city and well worth the visit. Sadly the amazing old buildings of Zanzibar are very high maintenance and are slowly succumbing to a combination of the elements, gravity and dishonesty. I made a plan to restore two of the buildings on the waterfront into a boutique hotel. Unfortunately the clients finances turned turtle. Apparently the son of the building’s owner ended up selling the beautiful old doors.

    /sad

    PS: Link to pic of waterfront. The beige building in the middle was to be the hotel

    It is actually two buildings joined together. One French in local style, the other an original Omani trader’s home. On the left of them is a lovingly restored of classical Zanzibari building. The tree on the left is an ancient Ficus, where the local boatbuilders build traditional wooden boats. (“No metal…the magnets under the sea will suck them out.”)

  14. says

    I won a Halloween costume contest when I was in college, and my prize (the grand prize) was Queen’s “The Game”. I was a bit of a sheltered kid and never heard of them. After one listen I was hooked. And of course “Bohemian Rhapsody” is sheer genius and my favorite Queen song.

    Who could forget Weird Al’s “Another Gets On The Bus”? Speaking of tributes… ;)

  15. Brownian says

    I saw the Freddie Doodle yesterday but I don’t see it today.
    What does this mean?

    That is curious. Labour Day is celebrated where chigau and I live.

    I recall staying in a hotel in Zanzibar City which, though quaint, comfortable, and otherwise beautiful, wasn’t fully grounded, electrically. The only thing more refreshing than a cold morning shower is a cold morning shower with alternating current leaking through your skin. Being an ungrateful guest however, I followed the stairs to the lobby to complain (the building was constructed piecemeal, with new rooms and floors added where space and resources permitted, so the whole affair was a mite haphazard—our room was number 4, sandwiched between and below numbers 6, 7, and a door to John Malkovich’s brain) and found the manager deeply immersed in a game of bao. I explained the issue, and he nodded me away. As I am nothing if not half-assedly persistent, I confirmed that he’d look into it. He called someone’s name, listened for a response, heard none, and went back to his game. Satisfied that I’d won the battle but probably lost the war, I learned to loofah with a laptop battery.

    This is all somewise related to Queen and Freddie Mercury, I just know it.

  16. says

    Katherine – One could say “Mick Jagger” to that…

    Incidentally, I wonder if he had a traditional Zoroastrian funeral.

    See the zoroastrians believe the earth and fire are sacred so they will not cremate their dead nor bury them.

    Instead they feed them to vultures…

    This sounds pretty decent except for one small problem. The zoroastrians are not allowed to marry anyone else but zoroastrians, which has resulted in crazy inbreeding particularly since you cannot convert into the faith. Effectively their genetic diversity is at “first cousin” status and they are prone to accumulation of mercury to toxic levels. So toxic that the birds that eat them die… And those birds are officially endangered…

    They have started captive breeding programs for the vultures but the local priests won’t admit cross religious marriages despite the fact that hinduism is extremely tolerant of cross religious marriages (my neighbour is a hindu brahmin married to a muslim) which could save their culture…

    Tadaa… Parsis! (Zoroastrians!)

    Oh they are also the source of the name Mazda.

  17. Brownian says

    This sounds pretty decent except for one small problem. The zoroastrians are not allowed to marry anyone else but zoroastrians, which has resulted in crazy inbreeding particularly since you cannot convert into the faith. Effectively their genetic diversity is at “first cousin” status and they are prone to accumulation of mercury to toxic levels. So toxic that the birds that eat them die… And those birds are officially endangered…

    What? This doesn’t make sense. Is your claim that mercury (the unFreddie kind) is accumulated through genetic relatedness?

  18. says

    @Avicenna:

    Jagger? Psh… he’s terrible.

    @Brownian:

    Nah, I still think Freddie Mercury was the best. Not only did he have an amazing (scratch that – what’s better than amazing? Phenomenal?) vocal range, but he also had an incredible talent for music. He went from straight ole rock and roll to opera. It was incredible!

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    Avicenna @ # 27 – How does inbreeding lead to mercury accumulation, and/or to ol’ Freddy’s family/stage name?

  20. says

    @avicenna: The vulture deaths have nothing to do with Zoroastrian inbreeding. They are caused by diclofenac, a drug given to cattle which are the vultures primary food source. The near disappearnce of vultures in India has affected Zoroastrian funearl practices, but they are not the cause of it.

  21. kristinc says

    That was an awesome Doodle and Freddie was a fucking genius. Anyone who hasn’t watched the Live At Wembley concert should. It was phenomenal and I wish I could have been there.

  22. ChasCPeterson says

    For all of Dylan’s (#7) genius as a songwriter, how can anyone say his modulated buzzing, like tissue over a comb, is better than Mercury’s four goddamn octave range?

    Well, Brownian, let’s let Bono try to explain, from your link:

    Almost no one sings like Elvis Presley anymore. Hundreds try to sing like Dylan. When Sam Cooke played Dylan for the young Bobby Womack, Womack said he didn’t understand it. Cooke explained that from now on, it’s not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It’s going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth.

    See? As opposed to slick superficiality.
    If counting octaves is your thing, then enjoy your Mariah Carey records.

    Dylan did with singing what Brando did with acting. He busted through the artifice to get to the art.

  23. Brownian says

    It’s going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth.

    Yes, and there’s nothing superficial about a believable voice, the trial lawyers will tell you.

    But really, isn’t believability in the ear of the gullible?

    He busted through the artifice to get to the art.

    How poetically pomo. Is quoting Sokal an argument now?

  24. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    While we are debating the merits of the Mercury and Dylan as vocalists, let me ask a question that my daughter asked me a few days ago:

    What is more important: cold or love?

  25. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    RBDC #41: You have identified the pillar of my ideology. I must now serve you in this life and the next. I have the life after that off.

    Steve: tansubtatiated?

  26. Therrin says

    There’s a version of the doodle available as a 1080p video on YouTube – Yay!!

    8bit at 1080p seems a bit excessive.

    What is more important: cold or love?

    Definitely cold. Love makes me sweat.

  27. sosw says

    The Countess:

    Who could forget Weird Al’s “Another Gets On The Bus”? Speaking of tributes… ;)

    Perhaps you don’t remember it all that well, considering that it’s actually called “Another One Rides the Bus” (which is also grammatically more sound). :)

    Can’t relate to the lyrics all that much, having mostly positive experiences with public transportation…

    Agree with most posters about Queen; I’ve always quite liked them, especially for such a popular band (most of what I listen to is far less well-known).

  28. sosw says

    Brownian:

    Rolling Stone takes your dare and names seventeen, though not all are rock singers.

    Interesting list (mostly good singers, but I would probably arrange them differently), but I can’t figure out what the smaller names under some entries (all of the top 10, scattered elsewhere) are…

  29. Invisible Dragon says

    I officially LOVE that doodle. It brings back so many memories that I just sat and cried. I really miss Freddy.

  30. Ant Allan says

    Was his stage name a tortuous pun? Cinnabar, an ore of mercury, from Zanzibar?

    In any case he was one of the finest, if not the finest, rock vocalists and showmen. And I think he might agree that he and Queen were slick but superficial; he quietly deprecated their songs as being as disposable as, um, disposable razors. But… oh, so slick!

    I did see them at Wembley Arena on the Works tour. Stunning.

    /@

  31. Brownian says

    Agree with most posters about Queen; I’ve always quite liked them, especially for such a popular band (most of what I listen to is far less well-known).

    Q: How many scenesters does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A: It’s a really obscure number; you probably wouldn’t have heard of it.

    Interesting list (mostly good singers, but I would probably arrange them differently), but I can’t figure out what the smaller names under some entries (all of the top 10, scattered elsewhere) are…

    Yeah, I wasn’t sure what those were meant to signify either, sosw. I wish RS would let one navigate through the list a little more efficiently than by clicking on groups of ten and click-wait-while-it-loads-then-click-’next’-again. When I’m pissing around on the internet at work I want to do it at high speed, for crying out loud.

  32. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Q: How many rudeboys does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    Hipster: No one listens to ska anymore.

  33. Patrick Smythe says

    #28

    I couldn’t believe Bon Scott wasn’t on that list (althoughI could have missed him, scanning through).

  34. otrame says

    Freddie was one of the most devastating victims of AIDS for me* (and it is important to note that EVERY SINGLE VICTIM was devastating–not downplaying that but I’ve been very lucky and have not lost a personal acquaintance that way). I keep wondering what he would have come up with as he matured. His voice, his songs, all of it. At least we have what we have, but I still wonder.

    *Another, whom I didn’t even know was a victim of AIDS until many years after his death, was Isaac Asimov.

  35. drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says

    Thanks for the link, Steve @23 (is your brim pulled way down low? Are you walking warily down the street?).

    ‘Under Pressure’ has always been one of my favorite songs ever since it came out (what, 1982? I think I was 13 or 14). The lyrics are just as relevant today as they ever were, and it’s a fun song to play. I was never a huge Queen fan when they were a their peak (more of a Jerry Garcia/FZ fan in those days), but over the last 15 yrs or so I’ve really come to appreciate the incredible writing and arranging (and to be able to pull it off live!) without overwhelming the song.

    Freddy has always been in a class by himself, but I’ve come to realize that Brian May is one of the most underrated guitar players ever. He does more with fewer notes in (essentially) a three piece combo than anyone since Hendrix (IM notso HO. I feel the same about Bela Fleck and the Flecktones). I was pleased to learn a few years ago that that I should be addressing him as Brian May PhD. In one of my favorite subjects. I don’t understand the math very well, but it was astrophysics and cosmology that tipped me over to atheism, moreso than evolution. Once I made my way to ‘molecular clocks’ and such, that was the icing on the cake.

    otreme @57 … I did not know that about Asimov. I wish he would’ve gone public. I was a bigger fan of his science writing than his fiction (i did like the Foundation series). He had an amazing knack for explaining the inexplicable, and I think he could’ve done an amazing job of describing what was happening to him, and why. Ugh. Silenced by shame.
    .
    .
    .
    “One way or another, this darkness has got to give…”

    -Robert Hunter

  36. tim Rowledge says

    “tansubstantiation”? Isn’t that the mystical change that happens when some sleazy dork is elevated to the exalted state of appearing on “Jersey Shores”?

    Freddie was one of the best. Queen exemplifies the fact that ‘mere style’ can have a substance all of it’s own. Besides, they are almost certainly the only band to get a Filk song into the charts.

  37. Birger Johansson says

    Alexander Bard, the Swedish rock artist from “Army of Lovers” and “Bodies Without Organs” has converted to Zoroastrism (yes, apparently there are congregations that accept it).
    He describes himself as a bi-sexual libertine. And he apparently belongs to the (relatively) sane wing of libertarianism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Bard

  38. Judy L. says

    I missed the google doodle! Blargh.

    Oh, and Freddie Mercury is God. That pretty much sums up my religious views.