Week in Rock History: Mick Jagger Marries Jerry Hall

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November 24, 1991: Freddie Mercury dies from complications from AIDS

One of the most extraordinary frontmen in rock history, Freddie Mercury of Queen commanded stadiums with his operatic tenor voice, brilliant songwriting and euphoric showmanship. Yet towards the end of his life, he hid from public view as the British press speculated on his health; rumors abounded that the singer was suffering from a terminal disease, possibly HIV.

On November 23, 1991 – almost 16 years to the day since the release of Queen's landmark album A Night at the Opera – the fully isolated Mercury issued a public statement confirming that was HIV-positive and had AIDS. He said, "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."

Mercury died just one day later at his home in London. The official reason for death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. He was 45.

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone readers voted Mercury the second greatest lead singer of all time.

November 25, 1997: The original Zombies line-up reunites onstage
Thirty years after breaking up, the original line-up of the Zombies finally reunited . . . very, very briefly.

To celebrate the release of the exhaustive box set Zombie Heaven, which compiled close to their entire catalog, the British Invasion rockers made a surprise appearance during singer Colin Blunstone's solo show at the Jazz Café club in Camden Town, London. The classic lineup (with Rod Argent on organ, Paul Atkinson on guitar, Chris White on bass and Hugh Grundy on drums) performed their two hit tracks from the 1960s, "She's Not There" and "Time of the Season," the latter which topped the charts after the group had dissolved.

The affable, if extremely short-lived, reunion was the first time that all five members had performed together since they split in 1967. A broader reunion was discussed after the Jazz Café gig; the plans were scrapped when, sadly, Atkinson passed away in 2004. A new partial incarnation of the group, the Zombies featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent, released the record Breathe Out, Breathe In to mixed reception earlier this year.

LAST WEEK: Elvis Makes His Film Debut

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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