”We are here to celebrate the life, work, and dreams of Freddie Mercury,” announced Queen’s guitar player, Brian May. ”And cry as much as you want,” added his bandmate Roger Taylor. Last week’s Concert for Life — a tribute to the flamboyant and influential Mercury, who died of AIDS last November at age 45 — brought together an extraordinary and unlikely combination of performers, from Axl Rose to David Bowie to Liza Minnelli. Broadcast from London’s Wembley Stadium to more than 70 countries, including a first-ever live feed to South Africa, the concert attracted almost 100 of the biggest names in pop music, drew a crowd of 72,000, and raised $35 million, according to the British newspapers, for AIDS charities around the world.
Young hard-core headbangers chanted to songs alongside aging glam-rock groupies; Elizabeth Taylor preached the virtues of safe sex.
Aside from poor broadcast sound, the event’s only trouble spot was backstage, where supermodel/Fox host Cindy Crawford complained that most performers refused to give interviews for the television broadcast. About George Michael, Crawford said, ”In the time it took him to explain why he couldn’t give an interview, he could have made a positive comment about AIDS.”