Aretha Franklin talks about her duet with "talented" George Michael in rare footage

24 August 2021, 12:53

Aretha Franklin George Michael I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) music video
Aretha Franklin George Michael I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) music video. Picture: YouTube
Hannah Lovejoy

By Hannah Lovejoy

Aretha Franklin and George Michael created one of the best collaborations from the 1980s with their hit song ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’.

Aretha and George teamed up for a one-off collaboration and released ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’ together in 1987.

In this rare interview footage, Aretha spoke in detail about her friendship with George Michael and shared how their iconic collaboration came together.

Read more: When Aretha Franklin performed stunning ‘I Will Always Love You’ in emotional Whitney Houston tribute

Aretha explained that George travelled to Detroit to see her and said that they “had a great time”.

“We’re going to do a fifth [music video] with George Michael in about two weeks. We did a duo, he came out to Detroit,” Aretha explained.

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Speaking about how the collaboration came together, Aretha mentioned that Clive Davis rang her and said that he had a “hot song” that she needed to hear.

Aretha continued: “Let’s see, Clive Davis, Mr Davis president of Arista Records called and told me he had a hot song that he wanted me to hear and that George loved it and I should hear it right away.

Read more: The Story of... 'A Different Corner' by George Michael

“So, I received it and I quite agreed. I quite agreed, this is it, yes. I love the song.”

When the interviewer mentioned that Elton John said George was one of the best new songwriters of that time, Aretha agreed and added that George was “very talented”.

George Michael, Aretha Franklin - I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (Official Video)

The music legends always spoke well of one another throughout their careers and George once mentioned that Aretha ate a rack of ribs during a recording session. He mentioned that she was able to throw each bone into a bin on the other side of the room.

“She could hit that bucket in the corner like that! It was fantastic,” George wrote in his autobiography titled Bare.

Read more: Why George Michael and Aretha Franklin's spectacular duet of 'I Knew You Were Waiting' is even better 34 years on

Speaking about his experience of working with Aretha, he said: “I was nervous. I knew that Aretha would get the melody and then take it all over the place, which sounds great, but the thing also needed tying down … I just tried to stay in character, keep it simple. It was very understated in comparison to what she did.”

‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’ went to number one in the UK at the time of its release. The song spent two weeks in the top spot and nine weeks on the chart in total.

Surprisingly, it was Aretha’s only number one single in the UK and it was one of her first tracks to land in the UK’s top ten since she released ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ two decades earlier.

For George, ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’ was his third consecutive number one in the UK. His previous two singles 'Careless Whisper' and 'A Different Corner’ also went to number one.