Freddie Mercury, Rock Musician

LONDON - Rock musician Freddie Mercury, whose dramatic vocals helped make Queen one of the top pop music groups of the 1970s, died last night of pneumonia brought on by AIDS, his publicist said.

Only a day earlier, the 45-year-old singer had ended long speculation about his health by issuing a statement that he was stricken with the disease.

Mr. Mercury died peacefully at his home in Kensington, west London, said his spokeswoman, Roxy Meade. "His death was the result of broncho-pneumonia brought on by AIDS," said a statement from his publicity company.

Born Frederick Bulsara in Zanzibar, the son of a government accountant, Mr. Mercury rose to fame as the bravura singer for Queen, whose elaborate and occasionally bombastic songs made the group one of the favorites of the 1970s.

Their hits included "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are The Champions" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." Mercury later released solo albums such as "The Great Pretender," which also sold well.

In recent years, he had lived a secluded life and resisted responding to persistent rumors that he had contracted AIDS.

After his family returned to England, he attended Ealing College of Art, then joined Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor to form Queen in 1971.

Their debut album was "Queen" in 1973, followed by "Queen II" a year later with the single "Seven Seas of Rhye," which made the British charts.

The "Sheer Heart Attack" album gave them a big hit with "Killer Queen," but it was "A Night At The Opera" that gave them a No. 1 with "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Mr. Mercury's flamboyance on stage was equaled off stage, with after-show parties that went on for days.

But after he retreated into a quieter lifestyle, he insisted that was the genuine Freddie Mercury.

"I'm so powerful on stage that I seem to have created a monster," he once said. "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside I'm a completely different man."

A private cremation is to be held this week.