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Reviews > Queen Concert Reviews > 04-21-1992 - The Times - Freddie Mercury Tribute

Tribute to Mercury

FREDDIE Mercury, the rock star who died last November from AIDS, last night drew an audience as ecstatic as any in his lifetime when 72,000 devotees packed Wembley Stadium in tribute to the flamboyant frontman of the Queen group.

The £25 per head charity concert, expected to raise more than £1 million for AIDS projects worldwide, was conceived in his honour to promote awareness of the disease.

Elizabeth Taylor upstaged a cast of stars to plead for safer sexuaractices and, to those who take drugs, not to share needles. In tribute to Mercury, who was 45 when he died of Aids, she spoke of "an extraordinary rock star who rushed across our cultural landscape like a comet shooting across the sky".

Miss Taylor, 60, president of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, said: "The bright light of his talent still exhilarates us even now that his life has been so cruelly extinguished."

The concert, screened live by BBC2 and broadcast on Radio 1, featured the surviving members of Queen, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, who last played at Wembley Stadium with Mercury in 1986, together with George Michael, Annie Lennox, Paul Young, David Bowie, Elton John, Seal, Roger Daltrey and other stars, live and by satellite link, who combined a variety of the group's hits, including Bohemian Rhapsody and We will Rock You.

The spectacular show was beamed to a television and radio audience of up to one billion in over 70 countries, a figure to rival the biggest of all previous music programmes including Live Aid. The 72,000 tickets were sold out in three hours, before the line-up of stars was announced.

Outside the stadium touts were offering tickets for at least three times their face value and hundreds of fans were disappointed. The security operation was strict involving multiple checks on gates for those with tikets.

Inside the stadium pools of sunlight lit up thousands of arms punching in time to Def Leppard. The concert took off when the group were joined on stage by Queen guitarist Brian May.

The heat became unbearable even for fans in T-shirts and shorts and stadium staff carried several to the side of the crowd for air. Security staff protected special enclosures for disabled fans.

Nineteen television crews from all over Europe had set up their headquarters in the box normally reserved for football commentators. About 360 miles of cable were used in the broadcast operation. High-quality stereo circuits provided by BT went via a radio link outside the stadium in a truck to the BT tower and then to the Continent. A special rubber covering had been laid over metal plaforms to protect Wembley's precious turf.