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The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness was an open-air concert held on Easter Monday, 20 April 1992 at London's Wembley Stadium, for an audience of 72,000. The concert was produced for television by Ray Burdis and broadcast live on television and radio to 76 countries around the world, with an audience of up to one billion. The concert was a tribute to the life of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, with all proceeds going to AIDS research. The show marked bassist John Deacon's semifinal concert with Queen (save two live appearances with Brian May, Roger Taylor and Elton John in 1997). The profits from the concert were used to launch The Mercury Phoenix Trust AIDS charity organisation.
Following Freddie Mercury's death on 24 November 1991 from bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS, the remaining members of Queen (John Deacon, Brian May and Roger Taylor) came together with Queen Manager Jim Beach to organise an open air concert to celebrate the life and legacy of Mercury, as well as raise money for AIDS research, and spread awareness about the disease. In February 1992, at the annual BRIT Awards ceremony, May and Taylor announced plans for the concert. When tickets finally went on sale, all 72,000 tickets sold out in just three hours, even though no performers were announced apart from remaining members of Queen.
The concert opened with a message from the three remaining members of Queen in tribute to Mercury. The music then commenced with short sets from bands that were influenced by the music of Queen, including Metallica, Extreme (playing a Queen medley), Def Leppard (who brought Brian May onstage for a faithful version of "Now I'm Here"), and Guns N' Roses. Between bands, several video clips honouring Freddie Mercury were shown, while the roadies changed the stage for the following act's performance.
The second half of the concert featured the three remaining Queen members – John Deacon (on bass), Brian May (on guitar) and Roger Taylor (on drums) – along with guest singers and guitarists, including Elton John, Roger Daltrey (of The Who), Tony Iommi (of Black Sabbath), David Bowie, Mick Ronson (of Spiders from Mars), James Hetfield (of Metallica), George Michael, Seal, Paul Young, Annie Lennox, Lisa Stansfield, Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin), Joe Elliott and Phil Collen (of Def Leppard), Axl Rose and Slash (of Guns N' Roses), Liza Minnelli, and others. This was the second high-profile project with both Elton John and George Michael in as many years; the year before, they did a live reworking of John's song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Via satellite from Sacramento, California, U2 dedicated a live performance of "Until the End of the World" to Mercury. The drum set used by Roger Taylor during the show was given to Taylor Hawkins, drummer of the Foo Fighters and Queen fanatic, and is currently stored in Studio 606.
The concert was originally released in VHS form (usually in two tape releases worldwide), but due to time limitations, the last two songs by Extreme, the first two of Def Leppard, and the song of Spinal Tap "The Majesty of Rock" were deleted (along with Robert Plant's "Innuendo") in the original release. The US release also omitted Bob Geldof's performance of "Too Late God" and Zucchero's performance of "Las Palabras De Amor".
In April 2002, for the 10th anniversary of the Mercury Phoenix Trust, the concert was released on DVD and entered the UK charts at number 1. "Innuendo" was not included on the DVD, at the request of Robert Plant. In addition, the original 4:3 footage had been cropped down to widescreen.
An EP of the George Michael performances with Queen were released as Five Live in April 1993. It entered the UK singles chart at No. 1. Metallica's 3-song performance was made into a UK tour edition single for Nothing Else Matters, entitled "Live at Wembley Stadium" and released in Europe just one week after the concert, on 27 April 1992. Additionally, the Guns N' Roses performance of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" was released in August 1992 as a Double A-side with the original Guns N' Roses studio recording of the song. This single entered the UK singles chart at No. 2.
On 24 June 2013, Queen announced on their Facebook page that a new remastered version of the concert would be released in late 2013 on DVD and Blu-Ray. The DVD and Blu-Ray was released on 2 September 2013. This version excludes Extreme's "Love of My Life" and "More Than Words", Def Leppard's "Animal" and "Let's Get Rocked", Spinal Tap, U2 and Mango Groove from the opening acts segment of the show, and Robert Plant's "Innuendo" from the Queen+ segment of the show, like the VHS editions.
Queen were backed by the following musicians: