It was quite some step from there to the day in 2014 when George Michael was asked in an interview if he was ever mistaken for being somebody else.
George’s reply quite simply was “I’m often mistaken for being Robert Lamberti. He is a George Michael lookalike.”
As the promoters say, see Rob’s show and it’s clear why. Rob brings his A Celebration of the Songs and Music of George Michael to The Hawth, Crawley on Sunday, May 22 at 7.30pm.
“It still just doesn’t seem right that he has died,” Rob says. “He was someone who would step out of the limelight when he wasn’t doing anything. He would disappear for years and then he would come back and then he had a nother spell and then he would disappear again and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to believe that he has gone. On the day he died I was making some Italian pasta for Boxing Day. I was preparing the food and doing the sauce because the sauce tastes so much better if you do it the day before and a friend just messaged me. My phone was at arm’s length. My friend said ‘Really sad to hear about George.’ I just didn’t think he was talking about George Michael and he just said ‘Put the news on. George Michael has died.’ I put it on and I was just numb really and it still doesn’t seem right even now. It took me such a long time to digest the news. I’ve been impersonating George for 30 years.
“I started off on a karaoke machine. I was a labourer and I ended up doing a bit of karaoke just for fun to cheer up the lads. In fact at the time I thought I was a bit more of a Marti Pellow actually. Wet Wet Wet were climbing to their peak and I was trying to do a bit of a Marti, But the karaoke guy said ‘You sound a lot more like George Michael.’ He said ‘Why don’t you try doing some George Michael next time?’ and that’s what I did. The gentleman taped it when I started do a couple of George Michael songs, and I brought the tape home. I showed the tape to my mum and she was just blown away. And then my girlfriend and my mum secretly sent the tape off to Stars in Their Eyes.I then got a call from Granada TV. That was 1993 and they said ‘W e’ve got a tape of you singing here.’ I thought it was just a joke but they said it was genuine and so I did the audition which was just like X Factor is now. You sing your songs and they send you away and they hand pick who they want. I think they had a good idea of what they wanted. I ended up winning my heat. I had gone from singing in a pub to singing on TV and I just could not believe it. And I made it all through to the live final… which was won by someone doing Marti Pellow!”
The live final was in 1994 and Rob hasn’t looked back: “I think if you are being George Michael you’ve got to try to capture the heart and the soul of his voice and his lyrics and the messages he put across. He was a very heartbroken person throughout his whole career I would say.
"There was a very deep sadness in in his life alongside the great pop musician that he was.”