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Mercury, who was a Pasri born in Zanzibar and grew up there and in India until his mid-teens, has been referred to as "Britains first Asian rock star".In 2006, Time Asia named him as one of the most influential Asian heroes of the past 60 years and he continues to be voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music. In 2005, a poll organised by Blender and MTV2 saw Mercury voted the greatest male singer of all time.In 2009, a Classic Rock poll saw him voted the greatest rock singer of all time.In 2008, Rolling Stone editors ranked him number 18 on their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. AllMusic has characterised Mercury as "one of rock's greatest all-time entertainers", who possessed "one of the greatest voices in all of music".
Mercury spent the bulk of his childhood in India and began taking piano lessons at the age of seven.In 1954, at the age of eight, Mercury was sent to study at St. Peters School, a British-style boarding school for boys in Panchgani near Mumbai (Then Bombay) India.Aged 12, he formed a school band, The Hectics and covered artists such as Cliff Richard and Little Richard . A friend from the time recalls that he had "an uncanny ability to listen to the radio and replay what he heard on piano".It was also at St. Peter's where he began to call himself "Freddie". Mercury remained in India, living with his grandmother and aunt until he completed his education at St Mary's School Bombay.
Although Mercury's speaking voice naturally fell in the baritone range, he delivered most songs in the tenor range.His vocal range extended from bass low F to coloratua falsetto F-natural. His belting register soaring to tenor high F (F5).Biographer David Bret described his voice as "escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, perfect coloratua, pure and crystalline in the upper reaches".Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe , with whom Mercury recorded an album, expressed her opinion that "the difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was that he was selling the voice". As Queen's career progressed, he would increasingly alter the highest notes of their songs when live, often harmonising with seconds, thirds or fifths instead. Mercury was said to have "the rawest vocal fold nocules" and claimed never to have had any formal vocal training.
Mercury was noted for his live performances, which were often delivered to stadium audiences around the world. He displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd. A writer for The Specator described him as "a performer out to tease, shock and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself". David Bowie , who performed at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and recorded the song "Under Pressure" with Queen, praised Mercury's performance style, saying: "Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest... he took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights. I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand."