Everything we know about Freddie Mercury’s parents

Bohemian Rhapsody glosses over Mercury’s ethnicity and name change in one of its early scenes. At dinner with his parents, then-girlfriend, and bandmates, Freddie announces that he’s adopted the name Freddie Mercury, leaving behind his birth name Farrokh Bulsara. Freddie’s father scoffs at his decision, asking, ‘So now the family name is not good enough for you?’

The ethereal rock star kept family and religious matters away from the headlines. It’s perhaps no wonder that Bohemian Rhapsody had very little regarding Freddie Mercury’s family.

Like Freddie, Mercury’s parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, rarely gave interviews.

Freddie Mercury was born on 5th September 1946 to Bomi and Jer Bulsara in the British Protectorate of Zanzibar. Bomi and Jer hailed from the Parsi community of western India. Bomi moved the family from India to Zanzibar, where he worked as a cashier for the British colonizers. 

Mercury’s sister was born six years after his birth. Bomi and Jer sent Freddie to India to pursue his education at an all-boys boarding school. Mercury opted to finish his schooling at the Roman Catholic St. Joseph’s Convent School in Zanzibar. 

The 1964 Zanzibar revolution forced the family to flee to England. Freddie’s birthplace in Zanzibar has become a popular tourist destination for the rock star’s enthusiasts. His fans can visit his home, his family’s place of worship, and Bomi’s workplace. 

Local’s disagree with Freddie’s homosexuality, but they revere him nonetheless. “They are proud of him, they sense that they have someone from the island who has touched the international level in the music industry,” BBC’s Aboubakar Famau said. 

In England, Freddie clashed with his parents because his mannerisms didn’t align with their Zoroastrianism. Bomi, in particular, loathed Freddie’s fashion choices. Jer brushed them off as a consequence of Freddie becoming a rock artist. 

Freddie didn’t conform to Zoroastrianism, but he respected the religion. Some claim that he changed from Farrokh Bulsara to Freddie Mercury out of respect for his parent’s roots. Somebody to Love by Mark Langthorne and Matt Richards reads:

“I think changing his name was part of him assuming this different skin. I think it helped him be this person he wanted to be, and the Bulsara person was still there, but for the public he was going to be this different character.”

As a rock star, he had to be Freddie Mercury, not Farrokh Bulsara. That way, he avoided shaming his parent’s religion. Bomi disagreed with Freddie’s path, but he still supported the band

“It’s probably true to say that Freddie’s father, strongly committed to the Parsee Faith, didn’t find it easy that Freddie took the path that he did, as a Rock musician, and a fairly irreverent one, at that,” Queen’s musician Brian May writes on his website. “Nevertheless, the support was always there.”

Bomi Bulsara passed away on 26th December 2003 in Derbyshire, England. 

Freddie frequently clashed with Bomi, but he rarely quarreled with Jer. You could tell when Jer attended Queen’s concerts as Freddie added an extra dose of vulgar with her mom in the audience. Brian May wrote:

“Freddie announced … ‘Mother’s in the audience tonight. Better throw in a few extra fucks!’ There was never any sign that she was shocked.’”

Despite his close relationship with Jer, Mercury never came out to her or any other family member. “He didn’t want to upset us,” Jer shared in 2006. “At the time… society was different then. Nowadays, it’s all so open, isn’t it?”

He also didn’t share that he had AIDS, but the family found out. Freddie’s brother-in-law said that the family didn’t think Freddie’s condition was severe. He revealed:

“We gradually became aware he had an illness but we had no idea what it was or how serious it was. Then in August 1990 Kash and I saw a mark on his foot. It was Kaposi’s sarcoma [a dark tumor that indicated AIDS at the time]. Kash asked what it was, whether it was getting better. Freddie said: ‘You have to understand that what I have is terminal. I’m going to die.’”

Despite being very sick, Freddie showed concern for Jer during their last conversation. “It was very emotional, very hard,” Jer said. “He asked, ‘Are you all right? Did any of the media worry you?’ We said, ‘Don’t worry about us, dear.’ He was so ill and still he was being so caring.”

Freddie instructed that his funeral follow his parent’s Parsi tradition and be officiated by Parsi priests. Via a powerful statement, Freddie opened up to his family and the world about AIDS. The statement read:

“I felt it correct to keep this information private in order to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope everyone will join me, my doctors and all those worldwide to fight against this terrible disease.”

Jer continued working with Freddie’s bandmates in future projects. She passed away on 13th November 2016 in her sleep. Brian May wrote:

“She loved the fact that Freddie’s spirit lived on so strongly in the work we were doing, and that Freddie was always a physical part of our live shows. In private moments with us, away from the glare of the spotlights, in latter years, Jer was always ready with a cup of tea when we visited.”

Also Read: How did Freddie Mercury get aids? Is Freddie’s promiscuity the true reason?