Rewinding the Charts: 23 Years Ago George Michael & Elton John Rose to No. 1

George Michael and Elton John
Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Michael and Elton John photographed on July 13, 1985. 

The signature moment of Elton John and George Michael's 1991 live recording "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" can be heard halfway through the song when Michael ­dramatically announces to the crowd, "Ladies and ­gentlemen ... Mr. Elton John!" The audience's wild cheers nearly drown out the ­performance, foreshadowing the ­success of the single, which was released in late 1991 to ­benefit 10 charities.

On Feb. 1, 1992, the track rose from No. 3 to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing the performance of John's original studio version, which peaked at No. 2 in 1974. The duet became the eighth No. 1 single for each artist (not counting two other chart-toppers Michael scored as part of Wham in 1984 and '85.)

The roots of the collaboration trace back to March 13, 1985, when John presented Michael with the songwriter of the year honor at the Ivor Novello Awards in London. They became fast friends and soon began contributing to each other's albums. In July of that year, they first performed "Sun" together at Live Aid.

On March 23, 1991, John surprised Michael backstage at London's Wembley Arena, and they decided to duet on "Sun," which was already part of Michael's setlist. The single, which was recorded at that show, was Michael's last Hot 100 No. 1 to date, while John's reworking of "Candle in the Wind" (in the wake of Princess Diana's death) returned him to the summit for his longest reign -- 14 weeks -- in 1997 and '98.

Michael and John had a public fallout in 2004, reportedly over comments John made to the press about Michael's marijuana-fueled lifestyle. (He has since quit the drug.) Shortly after reconciling in 2011, they sang "Sun" together at John's White Tie & Tiara charity ball that June.