Freddie Mercury died of AIDS related causes in London on 24th November 1991. Immediately the remaining members of Queen and Jim Beach their manager took the decision to raise money and awareness about AIDS in his memory. Together they organised the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. The Mercury Phoenix Trust was founded to distribute the monies raised from this concert and it has continued to be engaged in numerous other fundraising activities.
Since 1992 the Mercury Phoenix Trust has been responsible for donating more than $15 million in the fight against AIDS making over 750 grants to charities worldwide. Applications for grants have come in from many countries around the world and collaboration has been realised with groups as far removed as the World Health Organisation to grass-root organisations run partly by voluntary workers in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Nepal and India. The Trust has adapted its policy to concentrate on HIV/AIDS education and awareness in the developing world.
1993 saw the release of the George Michael / Lisa Stansfield / Queen mini album ‘Five Live’ taken from the Tribute concert. This mini album and the single ‘Somebody To Love’ were released worldwide in aid of the Trust. They reached the top ten in 31 countries worldwide and the single reached number one in the UK on 22nd April.
In the UK the first National Street Collection commenced in November 1994. This street collection was fan initiated and has since become an annual event and in London the Trust organises a joint all-charity collection around World AIDS Day.
When the Queen album “Made In Heaven” was released in November 1995, the Trust benefited from a donation by Queen and their respective record companies of all profits from the album worldwide on World AIDS Day, 1st December 1995.
In March 1996 the Trust joined forces with Heart to Heart International in delivering urgently needed medical supplies to Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Mercy in Calcutta. $5 million worth of supplies of which $500,000 worth were specifically earmarked for AIDS relief by the Mercury Phoenix Trust were air freighted by Fedex from London to Calcutta. Roger Taylor and Jim Beach flew specially to Calcutta to supervise the arrival of the supplies.
In association with the Trust, the Freddie Mercury Photographic Exhibition opened at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22nd November 1996 offering an insight into the life of a small boy who rose to rock glory and died before his time. Since then the exhibition has travelled the globe. It currently resides permanently at Londonâ€™s Dominion Theatre where the Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You continues to run.
Maurice BÃ©jart, the famous French choreographer, created a ballet inspired by the music of Queen and Mozart to celebrate the lives of his lead dancer, Jorge Donn, and of Freddie Mercury. The ballet opened in Paris at the French National Theatre on 17th January 1997 with a unique live performance by Elton John and Queen and the performances around the world have provided a source of funds to the Trust. The television film of the ballet, directed by David Mallet, was voted the Best Arts and Specials Programme at the Montreux Golden Rose in April 1998.
Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records joined forces with the Trust in 2001 to produce the album Spirit of Africa. The album was released 15th October 2001 in conjunction with a television documentary of the same name. The cream of African artists joined with the extraordinary TASO choir (all of whose members are HIV positive) to make this unique compilation album which will provide funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust as well as further raising awareness about the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
In January 2002, Boy George gave the Trust a special preview night of his new musical â€œTabooâ€ at the Venue in London. The Trust donated the proceeds from this event to Desmond Tutuâ€™s charity Help Kids in Cape Town.
Also in 2002, on its 10th anniversary, the Mercury Phoenix Trust released with EMI and Hollywood Records a unique DVD of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert featuring a wealth of unseen rehearsal and backstage footage, as well as interviews with many of the stars; the DVD truly brought to life this incredible event featuring, among others, David Bowie, Joe Elliot, Elton John, Annie Lennox, George Michael, Liza Minnelli, Robert Plant, Axl Rose, Seal, Lisa Stansfield, Elizabeth Taylor and Zucchero. A one-hour TV documentary of highlights was released at the same time.
In May 2002 the long awaited Queen and Ben Elton musical â€œWe Will Rock Youâ€ opened in London. Since then the musical has played in many countries around the world and the Trust has benefitted from various charity nights.
In November 2003 the Mercury Phoenix Trust joined forces with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to launch Nelson Mandelaâ€™s crusade against AIDS under the title of the former president of South Africaâ€™s prison number 46664. Bono, The Edge, BeyoncÃ©, Anastasia, Queen, Eurythmics, Peter Gabriel, Yusuf Islam joined a galaxy of African starts at Cape Townâ€™s Greenpoint Stadium and since then there have been six more 46664 concerts around the world.
In September 2008 the Trust joined forces with the Elena Franchuk AntiAids Foundation in Ukraine for a special Queen + Paul Rodgers AIDS Awareness Concert in Freedom Square in Kharkov for 350000 people.
With initiatives such as these, the Trust continues its fundraising activities and intends to keep AIDS awareness and education in the forefront through the use of Freddie Mercury’s name, magic and music.
The Mercury Phoenix Trust is a registered charity. Charity No. 1013768