George Michael’s Wham! bandmates gave a touching speech about the late musician and Chris Martin covered one of his songs at the Brit Awards at London’s O2 arena on Wednesday, February 22. Watch the performance in the video above.
Andrew Ridgeley and the British pop duo’s longtime backup vocalists Pepsi & Shirlie (real names: Helen DeMacque and Shirlie Holliman) took the stage to remember their friend. Michael passed away in his sleep at age 53 on December 25.
“On Christmas Day 2016, the greatest singer-songwriter of his generation, an icon of his era and my beloved friend, George Michael, was lost,” Ridgeley said in his first public comments about Michael’s death. “A supernova in a firmament of shining stars had been extinguished, and it felt like the sky had fallen in. It started out ordinarily enough: In 1975, we were two boys that happened to share a mutual sense of humor, a love of life-affirming music, the records and artists it gave birth to and a shared sense that we understood it.”
Pepsi thanked the musical great for “changing her life” by choosing her to join Wham! “These three amazing friends took me into their fold and there was so much laughter, fun and kindness,” she said. “They were truly wonderful times and I will always cherish them.”
Shirlie reminisced about the band’s early days of rejection and added that the “Father Figure” singer was extremely charitable. “His generosity gifted so many people a chance to improve their lives,” she said. “George was like a brother to me and I will always be so proud of his incredible achievements.”
Ridgeley concluded their tribute by introducing Martin, who sang Michael’s 1986 hit “A Different Corner.” During the performance, a montage of the British singer-producer through the years played in the background. At one point, Michael’s videotaped performance took over for a verse, and then the Coldplay singer joined in to duet the rest of the tune.
Martin previously honored Michael with a moving performance of “Last Christmas” at a London homeless shelter in December. Adele also paid tribute by singing a slowed-down version “Fastlove” — which she had to restart after a flub — at the 2017 Grammys last week.
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