Adele reveals truth behind George Michael tribute at the Grammys 2017

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Kayleigh Dray
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Adele’s beautiful tribute to the late George Michael was one of the most talked-about moments at the 2017 Grammy Awards. And now, in a new interview, Adele has revealed that it was Michael’s family who asked that she perform in his honour at the ceremony.

“They didn’t want a tribute at first – his family and camp – and then they came back and were very specific that it be me,” the singer told Sunday People.

“I said, ‘Great, I have got something in the pipeline. If you want me to do it, I will do it.’”

Adele’s emotional rendition of his hit song Fast Love didn’t exactly go to plan; seconds into the song, the 28 year old was forced to halt the performance and begin again, due to issues with the sound.

“I’m sorry for swearing and I’m sorry for starting again,” she told the audience at the time. “But I can’t mess this up for him.”

Her candour earned her a standing ovation – and her second attempt at the song proved to be a phenomenal success, with celebrities and fans alike taking to social media to praise her vocal abilities.

Watch the moment for yourself below:

To all watching, it quickly became apparent that Adele wanted to perform perfectly on Michael’s behalf.

“I found him to be one of the truest icons,” she said, when asked why she was so emotionally invested in the tribute. “When people are that famous there is not fakeness in a bad way, but they put on an alter ego to protect themselves, and rightly so.

“I understand and appreciate that.”

Adele has, herself, admitted to paying a price for her fame and fortune; speaking to The Guardian in 2015, she admitted that she often feels lonely and isolated as a result of her success.

“When I walk into a room full of people that I don’t know, they stop talking,” she said. “If I go up to someone and ask what they do for a living, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s not very interesting, compared to what you do.’ But it is interesting. I’m interested.”

She added: “It’s lonely. It makes you lonely.

“It’s very easy to give in to being famous. It draws you in. Really, it’s harder work resisting it. But after a while I just refused to accept a life that was not real.”

While Adele hasn’t ever spoken publicly about her friendship with Michael, she and the former Wham! frontman had met many times before – and had even planned to collaborate on some new music during the last few years of his life.

Their close bond was clear when he flew over from Australia to present Adele with her Best Album Brit Award in February 2012 (see the video below) – marking his first public appearance since his battle with pneumonia.

“I’d just like to say that I have been asked to come to this event for the last 17 years,” he said at the time. “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.”

Sadly, their collaboration plans never came to fruition.

Explaining how she felt when she learned that Michael had passed away on Christmas Day 2016, Adele added: “I was devastated.

“I had to go for a walk on my own, and on Boxing Day, I said to Simon, my partner, that I have to do that tribute.”

Adele became the first star to win Best Record, Song, and Album twice at the 2017 Grammy Awards – although she admitted at the time that she felt undeserving of her accolades.

“I can't possibly accept this award," she said during her acceptance speech. “The Lemonade album was just so monumental, Beyoncé. It was so monumental and well thought-out and beautiful and soul-bearing...

“The way you make me and my friends feel… the way you make my black friends feel is so empowering. I love you. I always have and always will.”

Adele finished by telling Beyoncé that she “appreciates” every single thing she does for women and artists everywhere.

“All of us artists here adore you,” she said. “You are our light.”

Images: Rex Pictures


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.