A statue in Montreux, Switzerland, by sculptor Irena Sedlecka, was erected as a tribute to Mercury. It stands almost 3 metres high overlooking Lake Geneva and was unveiled on 25 November 1996 by Mercury’s father and Montserrat Caballé, with bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor also in attendance. Beginning in 2003 fans from around the world have gathered in Switzerland annually to pay tribute to the singer as part of the „Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day” on the first weekend of September. The Bearpark And Esh Colliery Band played at the Freddie Mercury statue on 1 June 2010. In 1997 the three remaining members of Queen released „No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young),” a song dedicated to Mercury and all those that die too soon. In 1999 a Royal Mail stamp with an image of Mercury on stage was issued in his honour as part of the Millennium Stamp series.
In November 1995 Queen released Made in Heaven, an album featuring Freddie Mercury’s previously unreleased final recordings from 1991—as well as outtakes from previous years and reworked versions of solo works by the surviving members. The album cover features the Freddie Mercury statue that overlooks Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland, where he had written and recorded his last songs at Mountain Studios. The sleeve of the album contains the words, „Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie Mercury.”
Consistently rated as one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music, Mercury was voted second to Mariah Carey in MTV’s 22 Greatest Voices in Music.Additionally, in January 2009, Mercury was voted second to Robert Plant in a poll of the greatest voices in rock, on the digital radio station Planet Rock. In May 2009 a Classic Rock magazine poll saw Mercury voted the greatest singer in rock. In 2011 NME magazine readers voted Mercury second to Michael Jackson in the Greatest Singers Ever poll. In 2011 a Rolling Stone readers’ pick placed Mercury in second place of the magazine’s „Best Lead Singers of All Time.” In 2013 Gigwise readers named Mercury the best frontman ever.
Estimates of Queen’s total worldwide record sales to date have been set as high as 300 million. In the UK, Queen has now spent more collective weeks on the UK Album Charts than any other musical act (including The Beatles), and Queen’s Greatest Hits is the highest selling album of all time in the UK. Two of Mercury’s songs, „We Are the Champions” and „Bohemian Rhapsody,” have also each been voted as the greatest song of all time in major polls by Sony Ericsson and Guinness World Records,respectively. The former poll was an attempt to determine the world’s favourite song, while the Guinness poll took place in the UK. Both songs have been inducted into theGrammy Hall of Fame; „Bohemian Rhapsody” in 2004 and „We Are the Champions” in 2009. In October 2007 the video for „Bohemian Rhapsody” was voted the greatest of all time by readers of Q magazine.
The extent to which Mercury’s death may have enhanced Queen’s popularity is not clear. In the United States, where Queen’s popularity had lagged in the 1980s, sales of Queen albums went up dramatically in 1992, the year following his death. In 1992 one American critic noted, „What cynics call the ‘dead star’ factor had come into play—Queen is in the middle of a major resurgence.” The movie Wayne’s World, which featured „Bohemian Rhapsody,” also came out in 1992. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Queen has sold 34.5 million albums in the United States, about half of which have been sold since Mercury’s death in 1991.
In his will, Mercury left the vast majority of his wealth, including his home and recording royalties, to Mary Austin and the remainder to his parents and sister. He left £500,000 to his chef, Joe Fanelli; £500,000 to his personal assistant, Peter Freestone; £100,000 to his driver, Terry Giddings; and £500,000 to Jim Hutton. Mary Austin continues to live at Mercury’s former home, Garden Lodge, Kensington, with her family.
The outer walls of Garden Lodge in 1 Logan Place became a shrine to Mercury following his death, with mourners paying tribute by covering the walls in graffiti messages. Three years after his death, Time Out magazine reported, „Since Freddie’s death, the wall outside the house has become London’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll shrine.” Today fans continue to visit to pay their respects with messages in letters appearing on the walls. Hutton was involved in a 2000 biography of Mercury, Freddie Mercury, the Untold Story and also gave an interview for The Times for what would have been Mercury’s 60th birthday.
On the evening of 24 November 1991, a little over 24 hours after issuing that statement, Mercury died at the age of 45 at his home in Kensington. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Mercury’s close friend, Dave Clark of The Dave Clark Five, had taken over the bedside vigil when he died. Austin phoned Mercury’s parents and sister to break the news of his death. The news of his death reached newspaper and television crews by the early hours of 25 November.
On 27 November, Mercury’s funeral service was conducted by a Zoroastrian priest. An intensely private man, Mercury’s service was for 35 of his close friends and family, with the remaining members of Queen and Elton John among those in attendance. Mercury was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery, West London. In accordance with Mercury’s wishes, Mary Austin took possession of his ashes and buried them in an undisclosed location. The whereabouts of his ashes are believed to be known only to Mary Austin, who has stated that she will never reveal where she buried them.
After the conclusion of his work with Queen in June 1991 Mercury retired to his home in Kensington. His former partner, Mary Austin, had been a particular comfort in his final years, and in the last few weeks of his life made regular visits to his home to look after him. Near the end of his life Mercury was starting to lose his sight and his deterioration was so overpowering he could not get out of bed. Due to his worsening condition, Mercury decided to hasten his death by refusing to take his medication and continued taking only pain killers.
On 22 November 1991 Mercury called Queen’s manager Jim Beach over to his Kensington home to discuss a public statement. The next day the following announcement was made to the international press on behalf of Mercury: Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue.
However, Mercury and his inner circle of colleagues and friends, whom he felt he could trust, continually denied the stories, even after one front page article published on 29 April 1991 showed Mercury appearing very haggard in what was by then a rare public appearance. It has been suggested that he could have made a contribution to AIDS awareness by speaking earlier about his situation and his fight against the disease. Mercury kept his condition private to protect those closest to him, with Brian May confirming in a 1993 interview he had informed the band of his illness much earlier. Filmed in May 1991, the music video for „These Are the Days of Our Lives” features a very thin Mercury, in what are his final scenes in front of the camera.
In October 1986 the British press reported that Mercury had his blood tested for HIV/AIDS at a Harley Street clinic. A reporter for The Sun, Hugh Whittow, questioned Mercury about the story at Heathrow Airport as he was returning from a trip to Japan. Mercury denied he had a sexually transmitted disease. According to his partner Jim Hutton, Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS shortly after Easter of 1987. Around that time, Mercury claimed in an interview to have tested negative for HIV. Despite the denials, the British press pursued the rampant rumours over the next few years, fuelled by Mercury’s increasingly gaunt appearance, Queen’s absence from touring and reports from former lovers to various tabloid journals – by 1990 the rumours about Mercury’s health were rife. At the 1990 Brit Awards held at the Dominion Theatre, London, on 18 February, a visibly frail Mercury made his final public appearance on stage when he joined the rest of Queen to collect the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. Towards the end of his life, he was routinely stalked by photographers, while daily tabloid newspaper The Sun featured a series of articles claiming that he was seriously ill; notably in an article from November 1990 that featured an image of a haggard-looking Mercury on the front page accompanied by the headline, „It’s official – Freddie is seriously ill.”