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30 April 2023, 10:00
31 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.
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 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.
David Bowie 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 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