Since Ge­orge passed away, it’s been like deal­ing with a be­reave­ment

TRIBUTE PER­FORMER ROBERT LAM­BERTI TELLS MAR­ION McMULLEN ABOUT HIS FORTH­COM­ING TOUR WITH MEM­BERS OF GE­ORGE MICHAEL’S ORIG­I­NAL BAND

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You are known as one of the top Ge­orge Michael tribute acts. How hard was it deal­ing with his sud­den death on Christ­mas Day two years ago?

SINCE Ge­orge, bless him, passed away, it’s been like deal­ing with a be­reave­ment. I have been do­ing the tribute act for 25 years and I had to work it out.

I turned down a lot of the shows be­cause I wasn’t ready. I had not phys­i­cally or men­tally ab­sorbed what had hap­pened. It has taken time.

I’m now do­ing this tour next year called sim­ply Ge­orge and it has come along at the right time and I’m in the right frame of mind.

How did you first hear the sad news?

WE’D had a lovely Christ­mas Day and I had gone out with the dog for a walk and a friend texted me say­ing ‘Shame to hear about Ge­orge’. I asked ‘What are you on about?’ and then I got home and switched on the telly.

I was just numb. It was a real shock. It was not un­til the next day that it sank in. It was a real shame and I still think that now. It was a dif­fi­cult time and I did think at one point ‘I can’t do this any more’.

Is the tim­ing now right for a tour with some of Ge­orge Michael’s own mu­si­cians?

IT is. It’s not all of the band, which is shame, but it’s go­ing to be fan­tas­tic. We’ve done a cou­ple of re­hearsals and it’s just amaz­ing.

I have worked with other bands over the years, but work­ing with the guys who cre­ated that orig­i­nal sound just makes me bet­ter as well. It’s so en­joy­able.

How did per­form­ing be­gin for you?

I’M 45 now and I have been Ge­orge Michael longer than I have been Robert Lam­berti. It was meant to be.

I re­mem­ber when I was 14, sit­ting in my Mum’s ter­raced house in Scun­thorpe watch­ing Top Of The Pops and Ge­orge came on singing on one of his pop videos. He was run­ning around in white jeans and white vest and I thought ‘I’m go­ing to do that one day,’ but never in a month of Sun­days did I be­lieve I’d ever be do­ing this for a liv­ing.

I left school and be­came a labourer, work­ing for a lo­cal build­ing com­pany and I loved it. I was work­ing with 40 and 50 strong teams on big con­tracts and we’d go out for a drink later and we started go­ing to a pub that had karaoke... and that’s how it all be­gan.

Was it your mum who sent an au­di­tion tape to ITV’s Stars In Their Eyes?

SHE did and when the show called me I thought it was a silly wind-up, but they said I was ex­actly what the show was about. I didn’t know whether to go as Ge­orge Michael or Marti Pel­low from Wet Wet Wet, but I won my heat singing Faith and got to the fi­nal, but was then beaten by the con­tes­tant singing as Marti Pel­low.

I hap­pily went back to work af­ter­wards, but of­fers started to come in and I even­tu­ally turned pro­fes­sional. (Laughs) I still have the jacket I wore on Stars In Their Eyes.

Have you worked on get­ting the right look?

I WENT out to a pub once and started chat­ting up a girl and didn’t re­alise she had a boyfriend. He came back and beat me up and knocked all my teeth out and broke my nose. But the new teeth I got looked iden­ti­cal to Ge­orge Michael’s. My teeth did not look like that be­fore­hand.

Ge­orge Michael once said “Peo­ple are al­ways mis­tak­ing me for Rob Lam­berti.” Did you ever meet?

I WAS on the M25 when I heard that Ge­orge had said that. I thought it was lovely. He was aware of me and came to see me in Har­row once in 1990. I’ve also sung at the wed­ding of a friend of his in Aus­tria when I trav­elled in a buggy to a snow-cov­ered lodge. I met him back stage at Wem­b­ley once and used to turn up at record stores as Ge­orge to pro­mote al­bums be­cause he was in­ter­ested in the song­writ­ing side, but not the pro­mo­tion.

But I never pushed it. (Chuck­les) It’s not like I was around his house stalk­ing him or any­thing like that.

What has it been like singing as Ge­orge Michael?

IT has been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Not many peo­ple have per­formed be­fore both roy­alty and Si­mon Cow­ell. Steve Coogan even flew me out to Mykonos re­cently for two days film­ing new satire film Greed. It’s been a bril­liant ca­reer.

Ge­orge – Cel­e­brat­ing The Songs And Mu­sic Of Ge­orge Michael tours from April 24. Go to rob­lam­berti.com for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

I re­mem­ber when I was 14, sit­ting in my Mum’s ter­raced house... watch­ing Top Of The Pops and Ge­orge came on ... I thought ‘I’m go­ing to do that one day...’

Robert Lam­berti, pic­tured, met Ge­orge sev­eral times over the years

Ge­orge, pic­tured with his Wham! band­mate An­drew Ridgely

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