Queen’s Roger Taylor addresses rumours George Michael was going to replace Freddie Mercury

Patrick Kelleher
·2-min read

Queen drummer Roger Taylor has said the band never considered asking George Michael to replace Freddie Mercury full-time after the singer’s death.

Mercury tragically died in 1991, aged 45, from AIDS-related complications. George Michael delivered a searing rendition of Queen hit “Somebody to Love” at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert a year later.

Michael’s spectacular performance alongside the surviving Queen members quickly led to rumours that the “Faith” singer could replace Mercury full-time in the band – but Taylor has finally put those rumours to bed.

“I remember hearing the rumours, but it wouldn’t have suited us,” Taylor told Classic Rock magazine.

“George wasn’t really used to working with a live band. When he heard the power he had behind him in rehearsal, he couldn’t believe it. He thought he was on Concorde or something.”

Taylor also reflected on Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose’s rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” with Elton John at the same concert, and revealed that it almost never happened.

“I do remember being determined that we’d get Elton singing with Axl, which was great, because Axl never turned up for rehearsal,” he said.

“It was really flying by the seat of our pants.”

Freddie Mercury tribute concert raised £20 million for AIDS charities

In recent years, Taylor and guitarist Brian May have toured Queen’s back catalogue with American singer Adam Lambert.

Speculation first mounted in the late 80s that Freddie Mercury was sick with AIDS as his appearance became increasingly gaunt.

It later emerged that the singer had been diagnosed with HIV in 1987. He denied that he had contracted the virus until 1991, when he finally confirmed that he had AIDS in a statement released less than 24 hours before his death.

The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert saw some of the most famous faces of the day turn out to remember the late singer, and was televised to more than 1.2 billion people worldwide.

The concert famously raised more than £20 million for AIDS charities.