Reading lesson: A Legend of Rock

legend of rock reading lesson cover

Read about a rock icon and his musical talents. Then complete the writing exercise below.

A Legend of Rock

His vocals range four octaves. His style is unmatched. He and his band sold millions of albums. He wrote one of Britain’s most-loved rock songs: Bohemian Rhapsody. He is Freddie Mercury.

In 1946, Mercury was born to Parsi-Indian parents in Zanzibar. He spent most of his childhood in India and started playing the piano when he was seven years old. By the time he was 12, Mercury formed his first rock band. He loved western music.

Mercury completed secondary school in India. Then, he and his family returned to Zanzibar in 1963, but they left shortly after because of revolutionary violence in the region. They went to the United Kingdom.

Mercury studied graphic art in college, worked in second-hand clothing shops and joined a series of bands for the next several years. By 1971, Mercury teamed up with Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon to form the musical group that we know as Queen.

The band was extremely successful. They sold as many as 300 million records, according to various estimates. They performed in front of thousands of people, wrote hit after hit, and spent 1,322 weeks on the UK Album Charts list, more time than any other musical group. One performance in London even brought 150,000 fans to watch Queen live at Hyde park.

Mercury’s health started to decline in the 1980s, and he slowed his touring schedule. However, he collaborated with the other band members to produce new albums in 1986, 1989, and 1991. People wanted to know about the missing frontman. They talked about his personal life, his sexuality, and whether he was HIV positive. For years, he said nothing but rumors continued. Finally, in 1991, Mercury gave a statement confirming that he had AIDS, but that he did not want to say anything before because he likes his privacy. He died two days later at the age of 45. His musical legacy continues to inspire musicians today. Other musicians describe Mercury’s vocals as “virtuoso”. He could sing something in any style, but no one can dispute his contribution to rock’n’roll.

Writing Exercise

Reading Comprehension Quiz