Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May: Did ‘thrilling’ George Michael almost replace Freddie?

Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985

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Freddie’s death in November 1991 devastated the star’s fans and friends worldwide. He also left his band without a frontman. Before his illness started to take its toll on touring and recording, Queen was still riding high after Live Aid and the Magic World Tour. Was there some way the group could still go in? At the 1992 Wembley tribute concert, some of the biggest stars in music tool to the stage to perform with Taylor, May and John Deacon but only one had everyone talking about him taking over from Freddie. SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE OF GEORGE MICHAEL REHEARSING WITH QUEEN

The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert took place on at Wembley Stadium on April 20, 1992

The extraordinary line-up included Elton John, Roger Daltrey (of The Who), Tony Iommi (of Black Sabbath), Paul Young, Annie Lennox, Lisa Stansfield, Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin), Joe Elliott (of Def Leppard) and Phil Collins, Axl Rose and Slash (of Guns N’ Roses) and Liza Minnelli.

George Michale performed three songs with Queen: 39, These Are the Days of Our Lives (with Lisa Stansfield) and Somebody to Love.

Taylor said he was “magnificent” while May called him “staggering.”

Michael called the show: “probably the proudest, proudest moment for me of my career, because it was me living out a childhood fantasy, I suppose, to sing one of Freddie’s songs in front of 80,000 people.

“It was a really strange mixture of incredible pride and real sadness for me.”

May said afterward: “I would have to say it was a thrill to work with George Michael.

“Without any kind of falseness, he was one of the great surprises to most people of the evening, I know. It wasn’t a surprise to me because I knew he could do it. I knew he had that in him.

“In addition to the great delicacy which he has — the great control, great dynamics — he has enormous power.

“And from the moment he stepped into the rehearsal room and was doing Somebody to Love, we went, ‘Whoa.’

“I think in most people’s feeling, he got closest to the range of Freddie himself.”

May added: “Strange enough, the rehearsals were very memorable. The calibre of people we had there was so incredible, and the commitment, the feeling was so wonderful. It was great. It did feel good.

“People like Mr Michael — it was staggering to work with people of that calibre.”

Soon after the concert, speculation spread that Michael could step in to fill Freddie’s shoes. 


Freddie would have been amused, no doubt. He once playfully dismissed Michael’s singing when he was talking of his great admiration for Aretha Franklin.

He said: “She must have one of the best voices ever and she sings like a dream. I wish I could sing half as well as she does…

“I’d love Aretha to sing Somebody To Love, actually… But as for me trying to sing with her? Well, she hasn’t approached me yet! I’m mad that George Michael did a duet with her. I could have done it better!”


In a new interview with Classic Rock magazine, Taylor reflects on those rumours at the time.

He said: “I remember hearing the rumours, but it wouldn’t have suited us.

“George wasn’t really used to working with a live band. When he heard the power he had behind him in rehearsal, he couldn’t believe it. He thought he was on Concorde or something.”

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