The history of Adele and George Michael's friendship

By Alice Vincent

Adele as she performs her tribute to George Michael at the Grammy Awards. Photo/AP
Adele as she performs her tribute to George Michael at the Grammy Awards. Photo/AP

Considering she took home five gongs and made music history, Adele shed a fair few tears during the 2017 Grammys.

As well as admitting that she would rather Beyoncé had won the Album of the Year, the 28-year-old stopped the world's glossiest music awards ceremony halfway through her tribute to George Michael, telling the watching world: "I f****d up".

As Adele would have been first to admit, this wasn't the first time she had done so at the Grammys. In 2016, problems with microphones meant that her rendition of All I Ask caused her to sound out of tune.


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But even though the starry masses at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles gave Adele a riotous standing ovation for her slowed-down cover of the late George Michael's brazen 1996 hit Fastlove, the Londoner left the stage with tears in her eyes. This most likely wasn't due to technical woes alone. Here's the backstory on the two pop stars:

George Michael: Adele's inspiration

Speaking to the press after Sunday's awards ceremony, Adele spoke about the first time she realised she was a fan of Michael:

"My earliest memory of me being a fan was Fastlove. When the video came out, I was blown away by how hot he was. I was young, I was about 10 and I heard the vulnerability in that song."

It transpires that Adele had wanted to pay tribute to Michael at the Grammys ever since hearing news of his death in December. Michael's family weren't sure if they wanted a tribute, but let the ceremony go ahead with one on the condition that Adele was singing it.

That Adele, the UK's most prominent and successful pop star of the last few years, should represent Michael was fitting.

"I found him to be one of the truest icons, because famous people often create this massive bravado to protect themselves, but for him it wasn't based on a look or an assumption," she told the press afterwards.

"And he was very British... The British press really gave him a hard time, but he still stayed loyal to the very end."

The pair's friendship

While Adele hasn't publicly spoken about their friendship before, she and Michael had met and even discussed collaborating during the last few years of his life. He flew over from Australia to present Adele with her Best Album Brit Award in February 2012 - Michael's first public appearance after recovering from pneumonia.

"I'd just like to say that I have been asked to come to this event for the last 17 years," he said on stage. "And I live a little way up the road, but I happen to know who's gonna win this one so I just came back from Australia."

But the warm embrace the pair shared during the awards show wasn't just showbiz superficiality. Speaking to Jamie Theakston on Heart Radio in July 2012, Michael explained that he had met Adele thanks to an introduction from Elton John at the Rocket Man singer's house.

Michael invited Adele to duet with him during the charity concert he held in November 2011 in honour of Elizabeth Taylor, but she was too wracked with grief over the then-recent death of Amy Winehouse, whom she has cited as a major inspiration, to join him.

"We communicated by email and initially what I wanted was for us to sing Love Is A Losing Game by Amy Winehouse," Michael said. "She was basically telling me she couldn't even... she tried to put one of (Winehouse's) songs in her own set and she couldn't even get through it.

"I think they knew each other from the BRIT School. They're obviously musical goddesses but I think the tragedy would have been too much for her."

Michael was determined to work with Adele on a future track, however. "I would love to do a track with Adele in future but I think she really has no plans other than to have a baby right now," he said during the radio interview. Adele's son was born in three months later. Sadly, they never got the chance to do it.


Adele later paid tribute to Michael when she dressed up as him to celebrate her 27th birthday in May 2015. After she posted a photograph of herself in costume, Michael wished her a happy birthday on Twitter, saying he was "so flattered" by her transformative get-up:


Behind the scenes of the tribute

Although in the days leading up to the Grammys, organisers announced that there would be tributes to Prince and George Michael, the details of Adele's performance were kept under wraps from the public.

Even the day before the ceremony, the BBC were reporting that she was "likely to be singing her current single, Water Under The Bridge".

Some eagle-eyed fans on social media clocked that Adele was rehearsing with strings performers last Thursday, but hadn't worked out why:

People reported that the star insisted on the Staples Centre being emptied for her rehearsal. "She was super nervous going into tonight. She cleared out the stadium for her rehearsal but it went really well," a production source told them.


Unlike last year's performance, when Adele addressed the technical difficulties that had occurred on Twitter after the show, there has yet to be an official statement from her or her representatives on what went wrong.

However, on Twitter, some have suggested that she wasn't able to hear her backing track - something that caused Mariah Carey trouble during her New Year's Eve performance in New York.

As for Adele's somewhat characteristic on-stage profanity, Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said he accepted her apology for swearing: "In live television, things happen. If that's how someone speaks... so be it. I don't think there's anything criminal about that."

However, he wasn't aware of any technical problems that may have affected her tribute.

This article originally appeared on telegraph.co.uk

- Daily Telegraph UK

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