At Sunday’s Grammy awards, fans watched as Adele struggled to make it through her tribute to the late George Michael. And although the 28-year-old singer ultimately performed an emotional take on Michael’s 1996 hit “Fastlove” by herself — the original tribute idea actually included three more stars.
From the start, Michael’s longtime manager, Michael Lippman, hoped that Grammy host James Corden — whose famed “Carpool Karaoke” series began with Michael as the passenger — would share the stage along with Adele, Beyoncé and Rihanna, reports Billboard.
Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich tells the outlet that an early concept was for each performer to take a song with a different tempo and era—including classics “Freedom” and “One More Try”—to create one large mash-up.
However, according to Adele, “[The family] didn’t want a tribute at first, and they came back and were very specific that it be me.” Noted Ehrlich: “The dream was Adele – we had to get it right.”
It quickly became apparent “how passionate Adele was,” said Ehrlich, “and that she had a vision for what she wanted to do with it.” Multiple Grammy insiders told Billboard that she was incredibly hands-on when it came to how the performance would be presented.
Echoed Ehrlich: “It was important to her and she was fully committed.”
The U.K. native even collaborated with Michael’s representative, David Austin, on the images and video used as visuals for the performance. “They corresponded directly about changes or thoughts she had,” explained Ehrlich.
After the show in the press room Sunday, the singer — who took home five Grammy awards that night — told reporters: “I found him to be one of the truest icons.”