Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Farookh Bulsara was kind-of a Weird Guy

Farookh Bulsara was kind-of a weird guy. More than any other public figure that I can think of, there was a whole load of misconceptions or incongruities around him which seemed to pass over the radar for the general public.

He was born in '46 in Zanzibar. He and his family subsequently moved to the UK, where he decided he was going to be a musician, and chose a pseudonym for himself. On becoming famous, only a small minority seemed to realise that it was a stage name, by and large people thought that that was his real name.

If you look at pictures taken of Farookh when he was young, it's quite apparent that he was Indian, but I think it became less apparent as he got older. Another peculiarity is that he did look sort-of like a Rock Star earlier in his career, and yet as he became increasingly famous he looked less like one.

It can be difficult to imagine Rock history without someone as iconic as Farookh, he always seemed to me to be a part of the fabric
of things. But seriously, can you think of another Rock Star that had short hair and a moustache?


He just pulled these excellent poses on stage so he looks like a real superstar. But try and picture Farookh sitting in a chair quietly - just not a very Rock 'n Roll image. Who else looked like that? Also, which other Rock Stars were most famous for the music they produced in their early 40s?

Farookh was Zoroastrian - a religion that entered recorded history in 5th-century BCE, and was apparently marginalised during the mid-7th century following the Islamic conquests of the time. It's apparently the oldest of the "revealed credal religions" and "probably had more influence on mankind directly or indirectly than any other faith"* . Ever heard of another famous Zoroastrian?

In much the same way Farookh was Indain and no-one seemed to care/ notice, he was also Gay. You'd think that in the 70s and 80s that would have been a big deal, but apparently not! Seemingly had no bearing on record sales or public image or anything.

Finally, Farookh and his band broke a United Nations cultural boycott by performing a series of shows in the (then) apartheid South Africa in 1984. Apparently they had some criticism at the time, but that appears to have been largely forgotten. Much better remembered is their performance at Live Aid the following year. My suspicion is that people forgot about the performances in South Africa because they liked the music.

I just kinda like how there's this superstar who has all this stuff about him that no-one seems to notice...

* Quote taken from: Boyce, Mary (1979), Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices

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