Pop star George Michael was found dead on Christmas morning, leaving legions of heartbroken fans. One of those fans? Late Late Show host James Corden, who used his first show back from holiday break to pay tribute to the artist who inspired "Carpool Karaoke," Corden's signature bit.
Corden, getting choked up, said that Michael's passing hit him extremely hard.
"I feel like I've loved George Michael as long as I've kind of loved music, in a way, and I know so many of his fans feel the same," Corden said. "Like sometimes, I can remember so many specific times in my life where I might have felt on my own, and George's music would feel like he just...it would feel like you would listen to a song and he would reach his hand out and tell you that you weren't on your own and that these feelings were not particular to you."
Corden said Michael's passing affected him personally because he spent time with George Michael. In 2011, Corden did a sketch with Michael for the Red Nose Day BBC special for Comic Relief, a prominent UK charity. Corden, in character as Smithy from the sitcom Gavin & Stacey, drove with Michael to the BBC offices, and during the ride they chat and then break into song.
"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," Corden said.
When Corden was starting up The Late Late Show in 2015, he revived the idea of singing in the car as a recurring segment. Most celebrities he reached out to weren't into it, but Mariah Carey said yes.
"Her words were, 'If it's good enough for George, then it's good enough for me. I'll do it'," Corden recalled. And the rest, as they say, is history.
"So we all have so much to thank him for, for the music that he's given that will last forever, but we personally, here at this show, we owe him so much," Corden said, before rolling the 2011 sketch, in which Michael is hilarious.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)