Who played the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992?

20 April 2022, 15:37 | Updated: 20 April 2022, 20:17

David Bowie, Brian May and Axl Rose at the Freddie Mercury
David Bowie, Brian May and Axl Rose at the Freddie Mercury. Picture: Michael Putland/Pete Still/Redferns/Mick Hutson/Getty Images

30 years ago, the world paid tribute to the late great Queen frontman at a star-studded show at London's Wembley Stadium. Here's who appeared and what they performed.

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By Radio X

Freddie Mercury died on Sunday 24th November 1991. The world was shocked to learn that the Queen frontman had lost his battle with AIDS, having been diagnosed with HIV in 1987.

As his bandmates - Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor - came to terms with their loss, an idea formed to pay tribute to their comrade, while also raising awareness of the terrible effect HIV was having on communities around the world.

At the BRIT Awards in February 1992, May announced: "We're incredibly proud of everything Freddie stood for and we feel like his spirit is definitely still with us." He then handed over to Roger Taylor, who had something very special to announce.

"We hope that a lot of you will be able to join us on April the 20th at Wembley Stadium for a celebration of Freddie's life and career," the drummer said. "A lot of friends are coming... and you're all welcome. Please join us."

The crowd at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium, London, 20th April 1992.
The crowd at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium, London, 20th April 1992. Picture: Phil Dent/Redferns/Getty Images

The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert took place on Easter Monday, 20th April 1992 at Wembley Stadium and featured an array of stars who had worked with Mercury and Queen over the years: David Bowie, who had collaborated with the band on the classic Under Pressure, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, who Queen had toured with in the early days, and many of rock's greatest performers including Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Axl Rose of Guns N'Roses, guitarists Mick Ronson, Slash, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and many more.

The show opened with short sets from US rock bands Metallica and Extreme, before British metal act Def Leppard took to the stage and were joined by Brian May for the early Queen tune Now I'm Here.

The second half of the show saw Queen members May, Deacon and Taylor joined by a procession of huge stars, including The Who's Roger Daltrey, Annie Lennox, Lisa Stansfield and Seal.

David Bowie added one of the more heartfelt moments when he told the crowd: "I'd like us to remember our friends, your friends, my friends, who have died recently, or in the distant past, friends who are still living and in some of your cases, possibly members of your family that have been toppled by this relentless disease."

He added "I'd like to offer something in a very simple fashion, but it's the most direct way that I can think of doing it", before kneeling on the stage to recite The Lord's Prayer.

George Michael, whose version of the 1976 Queen classic Somebody To Love was a highlight of the show, gave a very sombre speech, saying: "The conservative estimate for the year 2000 is 40 million people on this planet will be infected with HIV. And if you really think that those are all going to be gay people or drug addicts, then you're pretty much lining up to be one of those numbers. So please, for God's sake, and for Freddie's sake, and for your own sakes, please be careful."

The crowd at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, at Wembley Stadium, London, 20th April 1992.
The crowd at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, at Wembley Stadium, London, 20th April 1992. Picture: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert setlist, 20th April 1991
Part 1

  • Metallica - Enter Sandman
  • Metallica - Sad But True
  • Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
  • Extreme - Queen Medley
  • Extreme - More Than Words
  • Def Leppard - Animal
  • Def Leppard - Let's Get Rocked
  • Def Leppard - Now I'm Here (Queen cover, with Brian May)
George Michael performed a shop-stopping rendition of the Queen classic Somebody To Love
George Michael performed a shop-stopping rendition of the Queen classic Somebody To Love. Picture: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
  • Bob Geldof - Too Late God
  • Spinal Tap - The Majesty Of Rock
  • U2 - Until The End Of The World (via satellite)
  • Guns N'Roses - Paradise City
  • Guns N'Roses - Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Mango Groove - Special Star (via satellite)
  • The first part of the show also featured a speech from actress Elizabeth Taylor and a compilation of Freddie Mercury's finest onstage moments.
Elton John and Axl Rose at the climax to the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
Elton John and Axl Rose at the climax to the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. Picture: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert setlist, 20th April 1991
Part 2 - Queen

  • Queen with Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) and Slash (Guns N'Roses) - Tie Your Mother Down
  • Queen with Roger Daltrey (The Who) and Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) - I Want It All
  • Queen with Zucchero - Las Palabras de Amor
  • Queen with Gary Cherone (Extreme) and Tony Iommi - Hammer To Fall
  • Queen with James Hatfield (Metallica) and Tony Iommi - Stone Cold Crazy
  • Queen with Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) - Innuendo
  • Queen with Robert Plant - Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin performs on stage with Brian May of Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, 20th April 1992.
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin performs on stage with Brian May of Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, 20th April 1992. Picture: Michael Putland/Getty Images
  • Brian May and Spike Edney - Too Much Love Will Kill You
  • Queen with Paul Young - Radio Ga Ga
  • Queen with Seal - Who Wants To Live Forever
  • Queen with Lisa Stansfied - I Want To Break Free
  • Queen with David Bowie and Annie Lennox - Under Pressure
Annie Lennox and David Bowie perform Under Pressure at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992
Annie Lennox and David Bowie perform Under Pressure at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992. Picture: Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage/Getty Images
  • Queen with Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople), Mick Ronson, Joe Elliott and Phil Collen (Def Leppard) - All The Young Dudes
  • Queen with David Bowie and Mick Ronson - "Heroes"
  • David Bowie - The Lord's Prayer
  • Queen with George Michael - 39
  • Queen with George Michael and Lisa Stansfield - These Are The Days Of Our Lives
  • Queen with George Michael - Somebody To Love
George Michael and Lisa Stansfield perform These Are The Days of Our Lives at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
George Michael and Lisa Stansfield perform These Are The Days of Our Lives at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. Picture: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo
  • Queen with Elton John and Axl Rose - Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Queen with Elton John and Tony Iommi - The Show Must Go On
  • Queen with Axl Rose - We Will Rock You
  • Queen with Liza Minnelli and the entire line-up - We Are The Champions
Roger Taylor, Brian May and Liza Minelli performing on stage at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert
Roger Taylor, Brian May and Liza Minelli performing on stage at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert. Picture: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty

The show ended with the entire line-up of stars performing the classic anthem We Are The Champions. As a landmark event, it was poignant in many ways as Queen not only paid tribute to their late friend and colleague, but it was also John Deacon's last full show as a member of the band. He appeared with May and Taylor again at two brief charity events - one in 1993 and the final one in 1997 - before retiring from music.

The tribute gig led to the foundation of the Mercury Phoenix Trust, which aims to build awareness around the world of HIV and AIDs. Their official website is www.mercuryphoenixtrust.com

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