Andrew Ridgely was joined by Pepsi & Shirlie last night at the Brit Awards to deliver a moving tribute to his former Wham! bandmate George Michael.
The trio took to the stage at London’s O2 Arena to introduce Coldplay frontman Chris Martin’s performance of Michael’s classic song, ‘A Different Corner’.
Ridgely said: ‘On Christmas Day 2016, the greatest singer-songwriter of his generation, an icon of his era, George Michael, was lost.
‘A supernova in the shining stars had been extinguished, and it felt like the sky had fallen in.’
The 54-year-old shared a series of anecdotes from their early years growing up in North London, where they used to ‘lark around’ recording songs in Michael’s bedroom.
He said: ‘We were two boys who shared a love of life-affirming music and a sense that we understood it.’
‘ “Careless Whisper” was the song that got us signed and signposted George’s future; the song that glimpsed his extraordinary talent and the song that launched him as a solo artist.’
An emotional Shirlie said: ‘One of my strongest memories is George and I walking to the postbox and sending in big brown envelopes to record companies the boys’ first demo cassettes.
‘Sadly, they were all returned a few weeks later with a letter saying “No thank you”. However, of course, it was their loss. Fortunately, one up-and-coming record label decided to give the boys a chance.’
Pepsi claimed she always knew he was destined to be a ‘star in his own right’: ‘His voice was stunning, pitch-perfect, and his performances spell-binding. George, Andrew and Shirlie changed my life by choosing me to join Wham!
‘He understood love, loss, happiness and grief, and that helped heal the wounds life inflicted on us. He lives on in his music and our hearts, and I will never forget my wonderful friend.’
Shirlie, fighting back tears, added: ‘Anyone who asked for George’s help eventually got it… George was like a brother to me, and I will always be so proud of his incredible achievements.’
After their touching eulogy, Martin ‘duetted’ with Michael using taped vocals from the late star for a performance of his 1986 number-one hit.
Michael died on December 25 aged 53. The cause of the singer’s death has not been confirmed yet after a post-mortem came back ‘inconclusive’.
Brit Awards 2017 nominees and winners
David Bowie – WINNER
British female solo artist:
Emeli Sandé – WINNER
Lianne La Havas
The 1975 – WINNER
British breakthrough act:
Rag’n’Bone Man – WINNER
Global Success Award:
Adele – WINNER
British single of the year:
Alan Walker – ‘Faded’
Calum Scott – ‘Dancing On My Own’
Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – ‘This Is What You Came For’
Clean Bandit ft Sean Paul & Anne-Marie – ‘Rockabye’
Coldplay – ‘Hymn For the Weekend’
James Arthur – ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’
Jonas Blue feat. Dakota – ‘Fast Car’
Little Mix – ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ – WINNER
Tinie Tempah ft Zara Larsson – ‘Girls Like’
Zayn – ‘Pillowtalk’
Mastercard British album:
The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
David Bowie – Blackstar – WINNER
Kano – Made in the Manor
Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
Skepta – Konnichiwa
International male solo artist:
Drake – WINNER
International female solo artist:
Beyoncé – WINNER
Christine and the Queens
A Tribe Called Quest – WINNER
Drake & Future
Kings of Leon
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Twenty One Pilots
Best British video:
Adele – Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – This Is What You Came For
Clean Bandit ft Sean Paul & Anne-Marie – Rockabye
Coldplay – Hymn for the Weekend
James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go
Jonas Blue ft Dakota – Fast Car
Little Mix ft Sean Paul – Hair
One Direction – History – WINNER
Tinie Tempah ft Zara Larsson – Girls Like
Zayn – Pillowtalk