A blue plaque was unveiled today (1 September) at the childhood home of Queen front man Freddie Mercury. The legendary singer lived with his parents at 22 Gladstone Avenue, a modest terraced house in Feltham after the family arrived in the UK from Zanzibar in 1963.
The English Heritage plaque commemorating the late music star was unveiled by long-time friend and fellow bandmate, guitarist Brian May.
May paid an emotional tribute to Mercury as he recalled the shy boy with a "wicked smile" who fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a rock legend.
"The last thing we would have thought is that I would be here at this point, commemorating him with a blue plaque," said May. "It's a happy occasion with a tinge of sadness because he should be here.
"As boys we conquered the world in a way that was beyond our wildest dreams, which is why we are here today. What I remember of Freddie is hard to sum up. He was a shy boy and embarrassed of still living with his mum, so he often slept on people's floors to feel like he had broken away.
Reminiscing about how he and Freddie would spend hours playing music in the small bedroom May recalled the Ealing Tech art student's excitement when they listened to a Jimi Hendrix track on his Dansette record player "That's what we're going to do. We're gonna be a group," Mercury declared.
"He had an extraordinary capacity to energise people and make them feel excited. We knew he was something very special, he made people feel like they could do it too. I can see his little wicked smile. He always had this feeling he was a legend, we would joke about it, but it happened. He was thinking of leaving something great to the world. He would say: "I won't be a rock star, I will be a legend."
Indeed he was, and millions of fans around the world credit Freddie and Queen for creating the soundtrack to their lives. Attending the ceremony Mercury's sister Kashmira Cooke said that her brother and Queen deserved to be recognised with the blue plaque.
Sky News reports she told the crowd: "To suggest that Freddie and Queen are not timeless and not worthy of this sort of honour is utterly bizarre. He is one of the most worthwhile recipients I can think of. Our parents would never have imagined this would be a blue plaque house when they bought it. It's emotional, but I'm so happy."
She told the assembled Queen fans that 27 years since his death, she still misses her brother and often feels his presence. "I miss him but I have this feeling he's watching over me, just when I'm not aware something happens, he speaks through the radio, through music, at the most uncanny times," she said.
Neighbours described how the flamboyant star would arrive at the house in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce to visit his mother.
Occupying Freddie Mercury's bedroom today is nine-year-old Daria Mihailuka, and while she is more familiar with the music of Justin Bieber than Mercury, the very idea that the former Feltham resident could go from his unassuming home to becoming one of the world's greatest music stars was a source of inspiration. She told The Guardian: "I want to be a singer-actor-dancer, and I am a good achiever – my vocal skills can get better – and he shows me that you can start out just right here and become a huge star."
Mercury is in illustrious company joining fellow rock-idols Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart all of whom have been honoured with a blue plaque.
The Queen singer, who was renowned for his showmanship is regarded as one of the world's greatest rock legends. He died of Aids-related pneumonia in 1991 at the age of 45.