Freddie Mercury left this Earth on November 24, 1991. While he left a void in the rock landscape that is still felt today, his inspiration has transcended his era, and he continues to influence new generations of music fans.
He also transcended musical genres: about five months after his death, Queen, along with an all-star lineup, put on The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. The concert was held at Wembley Stadium before a massive crowd of 72,000. Proceeds from the show went towards launching The Mercury Phoenix Trust, an organization founded by Brian May, Roger Taylor and Queen manager Jim Beach that has help fund numerous projects in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In his memory, here’s a look back to the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and its five best performances that day.
Queen + Joe Elliott and Slash – “Tie Your Mother Down”
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was in two parts: The first was without Queen and the second was with. The Queen-portion of the concert started things off with a bang with this energetic performance of “Tie Your Mother Down” that featured Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Guns N’ Roses’ Slash. Fun fact: Elliott was the first person to publically sing with Queen following Mercury’s death.
Queen + David Bowie and Annie Lennox – “Under Pressure”
How do you fill the shoes of Freddie Mercury when it comes to one of the most iconic duets in rock history? You find someone with an equally iconic and bold voice like Annie Lennox. David Bowie and Lennox’s performance of “Under Pressure” remains as moving decades later as it did that fateful day in Wembly Stadium. And Mercury would have undoubtedly approved of Lennox dressing up in a ball gown for the occasion.
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Queen + Ian Hunter, David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Joe Elliott and Phil Collen – “All The Young Dudes”
Very few non-Queen songs were performed during the Queen portion of the tribute concert, but it goes without saying the surprising inclusion of the Mott the Hoople classic “All The Young Dudes” was one of the biggest highlights of the show. Not only did you have Ian Hunter fronting the performance, but David Bowie (who wrote the song) was also on backup vocals and saxophone, as well as Mick Ronson on guitar! Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Phil Collen ran out on stage to provide backup vocals, too. Elliott would say in a 2019 interview, “I dragged him [Collen] up. He wasn’t going to do it. I said, ‘You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life if you don’t.’ It’s my favorite song of all time, so for me, it was a no-brainer.”
Queen + George Michael – “Somebody to Love”
There’s perhaps no greater chill-inducing moment in the entire concert than when George Michael throws to the crowd to sing the final lyric in “Somebody to Love” and they all sing that vocal riff in perfect unison. On top of that, his vocal performance was just outstanding. In the years since Michael’s untimely passing on Christmas 2016, this performance serves as another reminder of his tremendous talent.
Queen + Liza Minnelli w/the entire show’s lineup – “We Are The Champions”
Every big show deserves a grand finale, and this performance of “We Are The Champions” is just that: Grand. Led by vocals from Liza Minnelli, everyone from the show’s lineup took to the stage for one truly epic sing-a-long capped by Minnelli saying, “Thanks, Freddie! We just wanted to let you know we were thinking about you. Stay safe!” A truly beautiful end to the emotional, heart-felt Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.