On April 20th, 1992, about five months after Freddie Mercury passed away due to AIDS-related pneumonia, the surviving members of Queen came together at Wembley Stadium to stage an amazing concert in his honor featuring Elton John, Axl Rose, Slash, Robert Plant, George Michael, Seal, Annie Lennox and Liza Minnelli. Wembley was the site of many of Queen’s greatest performances, including their 1985 triumph at Live Aid, so it was the perfect place to honor Freddie’s legacy.
The night featured a ton of once-in-a-lifetime moments, including Elton John and Axl Rose duetting on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and George Michael belting out “Somebody To Love” – but one of the most memorable performances came midway through the night, when David Bowie, Ian Hunter, Joe Elliott, Phil Collen and Mick Ronson came together for “All The Young Dudes.” Bowie hadn’t played with Ronson since a surprise appearance at a Serious Moonlight gig nine years earlier, and the Spiders From Mars guitarist died almost exactly a year later, so they’d never have another chance to perform together in public (though Ronson did contribute to Bowie’s 1993 LP Black Tie White Noise). Bowie sang “All The Young Dudes” at many of his solo shows, but on this night he stuck to the sax and let Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter handle the vocals as he had on the original single.
Bowie wrote “All The Young Dudes” specifically for Mott The Hoople in 1972, giving them the biggest hit of their career. Ronson played on Bowie’s own recording of the song, and a couple years later the guitarist briefly joined the Mott The Hoople before teaming up with Bob Dylan for the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. “Poor Mick [Ronson] has completely missed his vocation,” Bowie told Rolling Stone’s Cameron Crowe in a famously stoned-out 1976 interview. “From his faulty solo career right on down. I’ve been disappointed. He could have been amazing. I just don’t know. Christ, I haven’t spoken properly with him in years. I wonder if he’s changed.”
When Ronson died in 1993, Bowie didn’t attend a tribute concert in his honor, but he did release a very warm statement. “Mick was the perfect foil for the Ziggy character,” he said. “He was very much a salt-of-the-earth type, the blunt northerner with a defiantly masculine personality, so that what you got was the old-fashioned yin and yang thing. As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith or Axl and Slash. Ziggy and Mick were the personification of that rock & roll dualism.”