How a Star-Packed Show Paid Tribute to Freddie Mercury
The death of Queen singer Freddie Mercury due to AIDS-related complications on Nov. 24, 1991, left his legions of fans and fellow members of rock's ruling aristocracy shell-shocked.
But over the next few months, the surviving members of Queen put all of their considerable resources towards organizing a massive concert at London's Wembley Stadium that would feature some of the era's biggest superstars, performing together to honor Freddie's larger-than-life memory and immortal influence.
A concert fit for a king ... or a Queen, as circumstances would have it.
So, 72,000 fans gathered on April 20, 1992, at Wembley, while an estimated 1 billion more tuned in to their TVs and radios to pay tribute to the rock 'n' roll monarch. The tribute began with a selection of bands – including Extreme, Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses, Metallica and even Spinal Tap – performing mini-sets.
They were merely the opening acts before Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor took the stage to revisit some of Queen's best-loved songs alongside legendary classic-rock peers like Roger Daltrey, Tony Iommi, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson and Elton John – not to mention numerous pop stars too.
By the time the event culminated hours later, with all of the stars assembled onstage to play "God Save the Queen" (Queen’s traditional show-ending background music), it’s fair to say that all those who attended or watched remotely had been treated to something much bigger than a star-studded rock show.
Indeed, what came to be known as A Concert for Life: The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness raised generous donations for AIDS research and incalculable awareness about the disease across the globe.
At the same time, Mercury’s public sendoff doubled as much needed musical therapy for millions of Queen and rock fans, in general – many of them members of an entire generation that came of age under the shadow of AIDS, and, in Mercury, found a fallen champion to rally behind.
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