The performance George Michael called his “proudest moment”

There are usually certain pieces of every musician’s career that they would consider landmark achievements. While they may have made great strides on the charts or carved out their niche in their respective scene, there are always those choice moments where everything seems to line up in the exact right way. Although George Michael could have claimed many milestone moments to his name, he traces one of his proudest achievements back to one singular night.

Before Michael had even reached his 30s, though, he had already turned himself into one of the biggest stars in the world. After making his first anthems with Andrew Ridgely in WHAM!, the band’s farewell concert at Wembley Stadium set the precedent for what Michael would get up to in his solo career.

Looking to shed his skin as a teenage heartthrob, Faith featured Michael coming into his own as a songwriter, putting together bouncy songs like the title track with gut-wrenching ballads like ‘One More Try’. Although Michael would rely on his roots in genres like pop and soul, one of his inspirations came from another major figure in rock and roll.

As Michael was storming the charts for the first time, Queen had already been solidified as one of the biggest rock bands ever. While the band transformed themselves into pop mainstays in the 1980s thanks to the advent of MTV, the end of the decade would turn tragic following Freddie Mercury’s AIDs diagnosis, which he kept hidden from the public for most of the decade.

By the time the band released the album Innuendo, Mercury had closed himself off from the public, only making a handful of appearances for the record as he continued to fight his health struggles. Once Mercury revealed that he was living with AIDs, it proved to be a death sentence, passing away within a few hours after the news went public.

Looking to pay tribute to their friend and frontman, the surviving members of the band conducted various concerts in Mercury’s memory, featuring a who’s who of talent paying respect to the frontman. While artists such as Elton John and James Hetfield arrived to pay their respects, Michael knew that singing with one of his favourite bands was too big an opportunity to pass up.

With all of the money going to benefit AIDs research, Michael took to the stage to sing ‘Somebody to Love’ with his childhood idols, bringing the same gravitas that he brought to any of his own ballads. Compared to all of the artistic milestones he had reached throughout his life, Michael continued to hold this one performance as one of the highlights of his career.

When discussing performing with the group in front of that massive crowd, Michael remembered feeling creatively fulfilled beyond his wildest dreams, saying, “It was probably the proudest moment of my career. Because it was me living out a childhood fantasy: to sing one of Freddie’s songs in front of 80,000 people”.

As Michael’s partner, Anselmo Feleppa, struggled with the same disease, Michael would be there as much for his lover as he was for his idols. No matter how Michael and Queen were brought together, his bluesy voice paired with Mercury’s melodies was a match made in musical heaven.

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