When a nervous George Michael, 21, sang a duet with Stevie Wonder and blew everyone away
10 June 2021, 16:53
During a US TV special in 1985, Stevie Wonder brought out very special guest, George Michael, to help him sing ‘Love’s In Need Of Love Today.’
In 1985, a young George Michael was just 21-years-old when he got on stage and sang a flawless performance of hit song 'Love’s in Need of Love Today' with none other than Stevie Wonder himself.
When Stevie was playing the opening track from his seminal Songs In The Key Of Life LP, he turned to the then-still-emerging talent that was George Michael and gave him the floor for the finale.
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The moment happened during a TV special to celebrate the famous Apollo Theatre in New York's 50th anniversary.
NBC threw a party to celebrate Motown's legacy and George Michael had the honour of being one of only three white artists asked to perform.
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In what would be one of the young star's first forays as a solo star away from Wham!, George was joined by Rod Stewart and Boy George for the incredible evening.
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Few singers could stand on stage with Stevie Wonder and hold their own but George managed it effortlessly and despite later humbly saying he 'didn't even know why he was invited', it wasn't the only incredible duet George performed that evening.
The young star also took to the stage with soul legend Smokey Robinson for a breathtaking version of his new single Careless Whisper, which would go on to be that year's no.1 single.
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The Motown Returns to the Apollo gig was shown as a three-hour TV special on NBC and featured an impressive line-up of 60 entertainers included Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, James Brown, Patti LaBelle and many more.
While it wouldn't be the last time George Michael and Stevie Wonder would duet together – the pair went on to sing 'Living For The City' at the VH1 Awards in 1997 – George gave a fascinating interview explaining how 1985's collaboration came about and how he really felt on that fateful night.
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In the article featured in Smash Hits in 1986, George explained: "We were contacted two weeks before it happened and I was asked if I would like to appear.
"They phoned back and said they would like me to do ‘Careless Whisper’ with Smokey Robinson, and were there any other artists that I would like to work with from Motown?
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"At which my eyes lit up and I said ‘Stevie Wonder’, thinking there would be no chance of doing it, and they said ‘yes’.
"And then there was backwards and forwards talk about what numbers we should do and I very tentatively put forward an old Stevie Wonder song called ‘Love’s In Need Of Love Today’ and he said he was delighted that I’d chosen that one.
Watch George Michael and Stevie Wonder's duet below:
GEORGE MICHAEL & stevie wonder "love's in need of love today" - A TRIBUTE 1963 - 2016
"In fact, when we actually did it he worked this whole speech around it and it became the finale to the show. It was amazing. I was there in a daze, I just couldn’t understand why they had invited me.
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"That was great for me because it was a kind of black acceptance for Wham!. I mean the records on that label are some of the best records of all time.
"To be one of three white people involved (along with Boy George and Rod Stewart) on a show like that was just amazing."
In his 2019 book Wham: George and Me, George Michael's Wham! bandmate, Andrew Ridgeley, would explain that the Motown concert was the moment the artist was seen in a different light by the music industry.
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“George performed flawlessly, lacing Stevie Wonder’s classic ‘Love’s In Need of Love Today’ with his own distinctive style and character," he said.
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"As he traded vocal lines with the great man himself, George confirmed my strongly held belief that he was every bit the equal of the people he was sharing the stage with that night."
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Andrew went on to say that he felt the night was an unveiling of George's abilities as a performer.
"Suddenly it felt as if I wasn’t the only one who truly understood the scale of George’s talent.
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"Everybody could see it … As the crowd rose to their feet for a standing ovation following his epic, gospel-infused duet with Stevie Wonder, there was little doubt that we were in the presence of greatness."
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