Press: On death of Jer Bulsara – Freddie’s Mother


OBITUARY Jer Bulsara
Freddie Mercury’s mother who became a celebrity among Queen fans and made cheese biscuits to sustain the band
21 November 2016

The site of Jer Bulsara’s former home on Zanzibar is honoured with a commemorative marker. So, too, is the terraced house in Feltham, west London, where an English Heritage blue plaque adorns the pebbledashed wall of what became her home when she moved to Britain in 1964. The two monuments celebrate the places where she raised her famous son, Farrokh Bulsara, better known as Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, who died of an Aids-related illness 25 years ago this month.

Bulsara, an elegant and gracious woman who never lost the twinkle in her eye, survived her son, becoming something of a celebrity in her own right among Queen fans and finding consolation in Mercury’s continuing popularity. She received a steady stream of letters from all over the world, from strangers telling her what her son’s songs meant to them. Many were simply addressed to “Freddie Mercury’s mother, England”. The Royal Mail diligently delivered them to her final home, near Nottingham. She turned it into a shrine to her son, with a “Freddie room” filled with his awards and other memorabilia, including a singing Freddie Mercury doll which performed his hit song We Will Rock You.

She was fiercely proud of Mercury, although she had hoped that he would become a lawyer or an accountant. “Jer was always a keen follower of our progress as a band, and always came to see us when we played near by,” Brian May, Queen’s guitarist, recalled.

Mercury was close to his mother, and continued to visit his parents regularly in Feltham long after he had become a superstar and was living lavishly in a Kensington mansion. “He used to phone me because he used to love home cooking. He’d say, ‘Mum, I’m coming home,’ and he’d come in his Rolls-Royce and the neighbours were all excited about it,” Bulsara recalled.

She reported that her “dahls, sweet and sour mince and cheese biscuits” were particular favourites, and that he would ask her to make them when he was throwing celebrity dinner parties. Her home-made cheese biscuits also frequently sustained Queen during long, all-night recording sessions. Once, when he had failed to turn up for dinner as promised, he bought her a set of antique silver cutlery to apologise.

Yet there were tensions between Mercury’s hedonistic lifestyle and the traditional values of his parents’ Zoroastrian religion. “I often told him I didn’t like his clothes and dresses, and tried to get him to cut his hair, but gradually I learnt to accept it,” Bulsara said. “As a parent you worry, but you have to let your child get on with their life.”

Mercury kept his homosexuality from his parents and for a while took a platonic girlfriend, Mary Austin, to visit them. “She was lovely and used to come to us for meals,” his mother recalled. Even when she visited Mercury on his deathbed, there was no mention of what had brought about his illness. “He protected us by never discussing these matters,” she said. “I knew he was very ill.”

Jer Bulsara was born in Gujarat, India, in October 1922 into a Parsee family, and married young to Bomi Bulsara, who was 14 years her senior and worked as a cashier at the British colonial office in Bombay. He died in 2003, aged 95.

At the end of the Second World War, the imminence of Indian independence led to Bomi’s transfer to the British protectorate of Zanzibar, where Jer gave birth to Freddie, and later a daughter, Kashmira, who now lives in Nottingham. The Bulsaras sent their son to boarding school in Bombay (now Mumbai), but the Zanzibar revolution in 1964 forced the family to flee to Britain. Bulsara found her new life difficult, not least because of the weather. She took a job at Marks & Spencer, where she continued to work for several years after Mercury and Queen had become famous.

She thought his musical ambitions were “a phase he would grow out of”. It didn’t happen but, despite the wildness of Mercury’s lifestyle, he retained a strong sense of duty towards his parents. Bulsara’s religion helped her to accept his death. “God loved him more and wanted him with Him and that is what I keep in my mind,” she said. “No mother wants to see her son die, but he has done more for the world in his short life than many people could do in 100 years.”

Jer Bulsara, Freddie Mercury’s mother, was born on October 16, 1922. She died on November 13, 2016, aged 94

Queen’s Brian May pays tribute to Freddie Mercury’s mum Jer Bulsara after she dies aged 94 just days before the 25th anniversary of her son’s death

21 November by Dan Cain

Jer Bulsara, the mother of legendary Queen singer Freddie Mercury, has died aged 94. According to Queen guitarist Brian May, Jer died peacefully in her sleep and will have a private funeral. The rocker is sued a lengthy heartfelt statement on his website, paying tribute to the grandmother.

A life well lived: According to Queen guitarist Brian May, Jer died peacefully in her sleep and will have a private funeral He said: ‘Jer was a warm and devoted Mum to Freddie, and, like Freddie, always had a strong twinkle in the eye. Although she was also devoted to her husband Bomi, and lived in the Zoroastrian faith as a good Parsee, she had an independent spirit and a strong sense of humour.’

Brian knew Jer for more than 50 years, beginning when he used to visit Freddie’s home in Feltham as a student. He described her as fiercely proud of her children and supportive of Freddie’s musical ambitions.

Tweet ananouncing Jer's passing
Gone but not forgotten: The rocker issued a lengthy heartfelt statement on his website, paying tribute to the grandmother

Born in Gujarat, India, in 1922, Jer married husband, Bomi, a former cashier in the British Colonial Office. The couple and their two children Freddie and Kashmira fled to Feltham, Middlessex, during the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964. Jer and Bomi then relocated to Nottingham to be closer to their grandchildren following Freddie’s death from AIDs-related pneumonia on November 24, 1991. Bomi died aged 95 in 2003.

Kash, Brian and Jer
Strong bond: Brian knew Jer for more than 50 years, beginning when he used to visit Freddie’s home in Feltham as a student

Recalling Freddie’s desire to try and shock his mum, Brian said: ‘Roger and I remember one night before a show in London (Wembley Arena, I think) when Freddie announced .. “Mother’s in the audience tonight. Better throw in a few extra ‘f—ks !” There was never any sign that she was shocked. The star said the rest of the band remained close to Jer following Freddie’s death and ensured Jer was always consulted on any Queen-related projects.

Brian and Jer
Strong woman: Brian described Jer as fiercely proud of her children and supportive of Freddie’s musical ambitions

He added: ‘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, and we were always able to speak about ‘My Freddie’ without shyness, feeling that he was not far away.’

Known for being a private person, Jer gave a rare interview to the Daily Telegraph in 2012 in which she spoke fondly of Freddie. She said: ‘His passing doesn’t seem more than 20 years ago. I still feel he is around because his music is played so often. It reassures me that he is still loved by people all over the world, but of course, none of them love him as much as his mother.’

Jer Bulsars
Always in their thoughts: The band ensured Jer was consulted on any Queen-related projects so that Freddie’s memory was always honoured.

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