James Corden’s heartfelt tribute to George Michael, the man who inspired Carpool Karaoke

"It was the first time I'd ever sung in a car with anybody, and it's become quite a big part of my life now"

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George Michael’s legacy includes chart-topping music, charitable giving and inspiration for young gay men to live their lives without shame – but that’s not all: he also helped bring us Carpool Karaoke.

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Take a trip back to 2011, when James Corden was helping out with Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. He had struck upon an idea for a sketch involving him and Michael, so he got in touch with the man himself and set up a phone call (at 3am, of course). The pop star was on board.

“We chatted for an hour and we talked about music and I felt very privileged to be able to tell him how much his music meant to me,” Corden told the audience as he paid tribute to the musician on The Late Late Show.

The sketch involved Corden in character as Smithy from Gavin and Stacey, with Michael in the passenger seat.

“The idea was that a character from a sitcom I was in at home was driving to the offices of Comic Relief to try and save Red Nose Day,” the talk show host explained.

“We had come up with this idea to have me and George Michael singing in a car, and it was the first time I’d ever sung in a car with anybody, and it’s become quite a big part of my life now. And he really inspired it.”

That first sketch was exactly what Corden needed to get the ball rolling when he launched his talk show career in America. Initially no celebrities would bite, but finally Mariah Carey agreed to take part in Carpool Karaoke, saying: “If it’s good enough for George it’s good enough for me.”

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Since then, he’s hosted everyone from Bruno Mars to Britney Spears to Adele – and it’s all thanks to George Michael.