Friday, April 20, 2012

A tribute to a tribute

Twenty years ago today I was glued to my apartment-sized Sony Trinitron watching the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. I was prudent enough at the time to record the whole five-hour Much Music broadcast onto a six-hour VHS tape and  even managed to record some of the related news coverage after the concert to round out the extra hour I had left over at the end of the tape.

Since I had a homemade video recording, I thought I’d do up a homemade video sleeve since, in 1992, I had the tools to do so: an early version of Aldus PageMaker, a scanner, and a 300 dpi LED printer. (Hey, the Queen crest may be distorted but modifying it on screen, adding some text, and then printing it off was nothing short of magic.)

The television broadcast was interesting because it invited us backstage to see how other musical icons grieve when one of their own has been lost. To this day, however, I’ve never really come to terms with Cindy Crawford’s off-hand comment to Erica Ehm — the Much Music VJ who was tasked with hosting duties at Wembley Stadium — about why she was there. Crawford merely said she thought it was “cool to hang out backstage with the other celebrities.”

Really? That’s the highlight of your participation?

Spinal Tap was cool, however, as were many of the other surprise combinations that night. And let’s not forget that it was George Michael’s performance here that kickstarted the whole discussion of Freddie’s “replacement” . . . a discussion that is just as relevant today with Adam Lambert about to join them on-stage soon.

So with an estimated global viewership of close to two billion* and funds raised in the tens of millions for the newly formed Mercury Phoenix Trust, I think it was a worthy send-off for Freddie.

Now, if I can only find a way to get that six-hour video recording off the tape and onto a DVD, I’d have it made. But that tape ain’t getting any younger; not to mention that finding a decent VCR to play it back on is nearly impossible as well.

* Quoted from one of the organizers in the video.


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