Moment George Michael first locks eyes with ‘future soulmate’ in audience while singing Careless Whisper

20 August 2020, 17:00 | Updated: 14 September 2020, 16:42

George Michael was performing at Rock in Rio when he saw Anselmo in the audience for the first time
George Michael was performing at Rock in Rio when he saw Anselmo in the audience for the first time. Picture: Youtube/ Rock in Rio 2

George Michael was singing on stage at Rock in Rio when he saw Anselmo Feleppa in the crowd, later saying the moment "changed his life forever"

Video footage has resurfaced of the day George Michael first spotted his future boyfriend Anselmo Feleppa in the audience at one of his concerts.

George confirmed he was singing on stage at the 1991 Rio de Janeiro concert when he locked eyes with Anselmo in the crowd for the first time and nearly forgot his words to the song.

Read more: George Michael's ex-girlfriend recalls relationship with 'hilarious' and 'generous' star

The relationship with the Brazilian would become one of the most important of George's life, before their time was tragically cut short when Anselmo died from complications from AIDS just two years after they first met.

George Michael continues to look at the right-hand side of the stage where Anselmo is reportedly standing
George Michael continues to look at the right-hand side of the stage where Anselmo is reportedly standing. Picture: Youtube
George Michael sings Careless Whisper on stage at Rock in Rio, 1991
George Michael sings Careless Whisper on stage at Rock in Rio, 1991. Picture: Youtube

It was January 25, 1991 and George Michael took to the stage after Guns and Roses and Prince to perform to the huge crowd at Rock in Rio, when his life changed forever.

“At the front of 160,000 people there was this guy over at the right-hand side of the stage that just fixed me with this look," George later said of the day he met Anselmo.

Read more: 8 times George Michael stunned strangers with private acts of charity

"He was so cute. I was so distracted by him, I stayed away from that corner, because otherwise I thought I was going to get really distracted and forget the words."

At 2 minutes 40 seconds in the video below, George gives a prolonged look to the right of the stage and continues to look back at that direction throughout the performance of the rest of the song.

In the days following the Rio gig, 27-year-old George and fashion designer Anselmo Feleppa fell deeply in love and after George's tour was over, the pair flew back to the U.S. to live together at the singer's home in Los Angeles.

See more: Watch George Michael's last ever concert - his final words are heartbreakingly poignant

But after the concert, George spotted Anselmo in the lobby of his hotel with a woman and thought he was unavailable.

“The moment I looked at him I got the feeling he was going to be a part of my life," George said.

"The bizarre thing was, I saw him with this girl and presumed he was straight. I thought, “Lucky cow!” And he looked at me as we were leaving the hotel to drive to this island 200 miles away...I already knew that feeling where you kind of click, before I even said a word to them.

Read more: Andrew Ridgeley "misses" George Michael: Wham! bandmate opens up over grief

"I remember getting on the bus and thinking, 'That’s really odd, I got that little click – I’ll never see him again. Why would that happen?' he told Gay Times

George Michael photographed in 1991 just months after meeting and falling in love with Anselmo Feleppa
George Michael photographed in 1991 in London, just months after meeting and falling in love with Anselmo Feleppa. Picture: Getty

"Three days after we arrived, he’d made his way onto the island, through one of the promoter’s children or something.

"He’d followed me for 200 miles – that would send me running for the hills normally.

"We had about two or three days on the island… and we got it together. And within days I outed myself to just about everybody in that circle of friends, work colleagues and stuff. It was very immediate."

Read more: The incredible night George Michael went undercover to watch his impersonator

George would later say that Anselmo was his soulmate and his 'saviour' - giving him courage to come out to close friends and also stand up to his record label for creative control of his career.

"I was happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Fame, money all the things you know. Everything else just kind of paled by comparison.

"To finally at 27-years-old, waking up in bed with someone who loves you, you know, and Anselmo was absolutely that," he told Attitude.

See more: Heartbreaking poetry George Michael wrote at 11-years-old proves the star's early talent

George and boyfriend Anselmo had only been together a few months when Anselmo developed flu-like symptoms that he couldn't shake, and decided to go for an HIV test.

On Christmas day 1991, George remembers the agony he felt waiting to find out the results of Anselmo's diagnosis - and whether he too may also have the HIV virus.

“I remember the terror of me understanding that this was possibly the beginning of an illness,” George recalls in a scene from Freedom, the documentary about the star's life produced by George Michael before his death in 2016

Read more: George Michael's best friend recalls night he told heartbroken star his lover Anselmo was dead

Sitting with his family in the UK - who knew nothing of George's sexuality or relationship with Anselmo - he recalls the lonely days as “the darkest, most frightening time in my life”.

“I sat at the Christmas table not knowing whether my partner, who the people around the table did not know about... not knowing whether the man I was in love with was terminally ill.”

See more: Forgotten loves of George Michael, Freddie Mercury and Elton John: The secret women they loved

Anselmo, who had discovered his diagnosis, came to the UK after the New Year and delivered the news to George: “I was absolutely devastated to find out he had a terminal illness... just devastated,” he says.

In a horrible twist of fate, Freddie Mercury died from AIDS just a month before Anselmo's diagnosis and George Michael was asked to sing at his tribute concert in April 1992 at Wembley Stadium.

George Michael performs on stage during The Concert for Life - The Freddie Mercury Tribute on April 20, 1992 at Wembley Stadium in London, England
George Michael performs on stage during The Concert for Life - The Freddie Mercury Tribute on April 20, 1992 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Picture: Getty

George Michael recalls the pain of going on stage with his secret lover watching in the audience - and no-one but himself and Anselmo knowing about the diagnosis.

“I just wanted to die inside. I was so overwhelmed by singing the songs of this man I had worshipped as a child, who had passed away in the same manner my first living partner was going to experience," he says.

See more: When George Michael revealed his full real Greek name on TV show - video

“I went out there knowing I had to honour Freddie Mercury and I had to pray for Anselmo."

"This was the loudest prayer of my life...The fact that it happened that way … I mean, my God, talk about destiny," he said years later in a Red Line Interview.

See more: Watch incredible moment George Michael sang to dying "secret first love" Anselmo at concert

"I was with Anselmo for two years. After that was a total nightmare. It was a difficult time to lose someone–after two years–because I was still in love with him in such a romantic way.

"It was also difficult because I felt like I waited so long to find him. Not many people wait until they’re 27 to have that experience.

George Michael and partner Kenny Goss attend a party at The Ritz Hotel on 9th July 2002, in Paris
George Michael and partner Kenny Goss dated from 1996 to 2011. Pictured, the pair attend a party at The Ritz Hotel on 9th July 2002, in Paris. Picture: Getty

"I literally had five or six months of pure joy before I found out he was ill. Then it was all fear–pure fear. I just wish I’d had a bit longer before that was ripped away," he told The Advocate magazine in 1999.

Anselmo died from a brain hemorrhage in March 1993 in his home country of Brazil.

See more: Watch when George Michael came out as gay on live TV and inspired a generation

"I was so devastated by Anselmo dying. I was in a world of my own. I didn’t attempt any relationship in that time. And then, of course, I met Kenny three years after Anselmo passed away.…" he told the Gay Times in 2007.

"Even though it was a horrendous experience to lose Anselmo, it had been a terrific experience to have my first relationship."

George went on to meet new partner Kenny Goss and the two dated from 1996 to 2011 - remaining good friends until the star's death in 2016.

See more: George Michael behind the scenes: Pictures of the off-duty star in his early years

Last Played Songs