Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley makes rare appearance at the BRIT Awards to pay tribute to George Michael

Late singer died on Christmas Day 2016

Former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley paid an emotional tribute to George Michael at the BRIT Awards last night (February 22).

Coldplay’s Chris Martin performed a stripped back performance of Michael’s ‘A Different Corner’, accompanied by a string orchestra at the ceremony in honour of the late singer who died on Christmas Day 2016. He died of heart failure.

Ahead of the performance Ridgeley said: “George’s contribution to the great archive of contemporary music rests alongside the immortals. His is a legacy of unquestionable brilliance and one which will continue to shine and resonate for generations to come.

“George has left for us in his songs in the transcendental beauty of his voice and in the poetic expression of his soul, the very best of himself.

“I loved him and in turn and we, you have been loved.”

Wham! backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie blinked back tears during their speech. “I will never forget my wonderful friend,” said Shirlie Holliman.

Previously Adele paid homage to the late star with a performance of ‘Fast Love’ at this year’s Grammy Awards.

The singer stopped mid-song and told the crowd: “Can we please start it again? I’m sorry, I can’t mess this up for him”.

It was recently reported that George Michael’s funeral could now be delayed until March because of toxicology tests, according to a report.

The results of the tests are not expected until the end of February, The Sun reports, which means his family’s funeral plans are likely to be pushed back again. Michael’s body will only be released to his family once all tests have been carried out and a full inquest is completed.

Read more: RIP George Michael – the NME obituary

Meanwhile, a track thought to be one of George Michael‘s last recorded songs could be released in the future, according to collaborator Naughty Boy.