One of the most emotional moments of the 2017 Grammy Awards came when Adele hosted a tribute to the late George Michael, performing a moving cover version of Michael’s 1996 hit “Fastlove” in honour of the singer, who passed away in December at age 53.
However, a report in Billboard notes that producers initially planned to have the “Hello” singer joined by Rihanna, Beyonce and James Corden for the tribute, but that plan was apparently kiboshed by Michael’s family — who insisted on Adele and only Adele.
According to the show’s producer, Ken Ehrlich, Michael’s longtime manager Michael Lippman pitched a concept in which Grammy host Corden (whose signature “Late Late Show” bit “Carpool Karaoke” originated with George Michael), Adele, Rihanna and Beyonce each singing a different song from a different era of Michael’s career.
Those plans changed, however, with Adele telling Billboard: “[The family] didn’t want a tribute at first, and they came back and were very specific that it be me.”
Ehrlich confirms: “The dream was Adele — we had to get it right… she had a vision for what she wanted to do with it.”
In fact, Ehrlich marvels at how hands-on Adele was when it came to how the performance would be presented. “It was important to her and she was fully committed,” says Ehrlich, revealing that Adele collaborated with Michael representative David Austin on obtaining the images and video used during the tribute. “They corresponded directly about changes or thoughts she had,” he says.
Following her performance, Adele spoke with Billboard backstage about her lifelong admiration for the “Faith” singer. “I found him to be one of the truest icons, because a lot of the time, with people who are at that globally known and famous, there tends to be… not a fakeness in a bad way, but they put on this massive bravado and alter-ego to protect themselves,” she said.
“And he was very British,” she added. “No matter where his career or love life took him, he always remained true to Britain and they gave him a hard f***ing time a lot of the time, but he still stayed loyal until the very end. … I relate to that — no matter how much I try to escape Britain sometimes, my roots are there. I took great comfort in him — and the bigger my career got, in trying to remain myself. It was an honour.”