07 Mar 2017

Australian stars unite for George Michael tribute

There’s already been one tug of war over who gets to sing what in our George Michael tribute muses entertainer David Campbell whose personal connection to some of the material dates back to when he was in high school.

“Three of us wanted to sing Freedom! ‘90 from the album Listen Without Prejudice,” Campbell says. “We all think that’s one of our favourite George songs and it has a meaning in all of our lives. So we’ve all agreed to do a rehearsal where we get to do parts of it.”

Campbell will join Diesel (pictured), Sam Sparro, Brendan Maclean, Jade MacRae, Gary Pinto, Carmen Smith and Natasha Stuart in paying tribute to Michael in Praying for Time with the SSO conducted by Nicholas Buc at the Sydney Opera House on July 6-7. The show was originally planned by the SSO as an anniversary concert marking 30 years since the release of Michael’s seminal debut album Faith, but following the star’s death in December it will now celebrate the legacy of one of the greatest pop icons of a generation.

Michael shot to fame as part of the duo Wham! and went on to release five studio albums and sell more than 100 million records worldwide. Campbell says the performances will allow the story of Michael’s life to be told through his music.

“If you’re a fan and you have been following him for a long time (which I have) the journey is clear about a man who grows up in the spotlight and then evolves in the spotlight, making some massive changes that were not made as they are nowadays,” Campbell says.

“I think the moods of the songs will tell the story and the performers chosen will tell the story. With incredible musicality I think of someone like Diesel coming in who’s one of our great musicians in this country. Diesel can highlight George’s musicality and song writing.” 

American-born Diesel (Mark Lizotte), who describes Michael as “a musician's musician with chameleon qualities”, is excited by the possibilities of working with an orchestra again. Before he became a rock musician, Diesel played cello in the West Australian Youth Orchestra.

“I played cello from the age of eight to 14 before I finally gave in to the strong pulling power of an electric guitar,” Diesel says. “My first experience of playing with a group of people was playing with an orchestra.”

When he started playing guitar, the cello was tucked away in the cupboard – but he has continued to feature a cello on every record he has made since 1995. Back in 2009 he also did a series of shows with The Divinyls’ Chrissy Amphlett and the Baby Animals with a 30-piece symphony orchestra.

“When you expand outwards with an orchestra, you’re given such a massive machine to utilise. It doesn’t mean you have to have it all blaring all the time but it gives you an awful lot of crayons to work with – you have the whole set. Not just primary colours.”

Buy tickets to George Michael: Praying for Time - A Tribute with Your SSO HERE.

Pictured: Diesel