Freddie Mercury left this Earth on November 24, 1991. While he left a void in the rock landscape that is still felt today, his inspiration has transcended his era. Decades later, he continues to influence new generations of music fans.
He also transcended musical genres. About five months after his death, Queen, along with an all-star lineup, put on The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. The concert was held at Wembley Stadium before a massive crowd of 72,000 on April 20, 1992. Proceeds from the show went towards launching The Mercury Phoenix Trust. This organization was founded by Brian May, Roger Taylor and Queen manager Jim Beach. Over the years, it has helped fund numerous projects in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The show’s running setlist is split into two parts: Without Queen and with Queen. The “Without Queen” portion featured performances from Metallica, Extreme, Def Leppard, Bob Geldof, Spinal Tap and Guns N’ Roses. U2 and Mango Groove appeared during this portion of the show via satellite. A number of the musicians from the “Without Queen” portion of the show would appear during the second half.
Once Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon took to the stage, that’s when the show really started to cook with gas. The surviving members of Queen performed some of their biggest hits accompanied by some of rock’s most iconic singers and other guest musicians. Among the singers to fill the massive shoes of Mercury were Joe Elliott, Roger Daltrey, Zucchero, Gary Cherone, James Hetfield, Robert Plant, Paul Young, Seal, Lisa Stansfield, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, George Michael, Elton John, Axl Rose and Liza Minnelli.
Simply put: It stands as one of the best tribute shows of all time. The fact it boasts one of the most star-studded lineups in rock history doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s a look back to the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and its five best performances that day.