Whitney to Elvis: Holograms that have brought stars back to life | Ents & Arts News

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Watching your favourite singer in concert is a highlight for any music fan – but when the artist passes on, a hologram is the next best thing.

And that is exactly what Whitney Houston fans will get to experience as her posthumous UK and Ireland tour kicks off in Sheffield on Tuesday night.

An Evening with Whitney features a digital recreation of the world’s most awarded female artist of all time, singing her greatest hits, complete with a live band and audience banter.

Houston died in 2012
Image:
Houston died in 2012

Appearing as a hologram is not new, however, with several massive stars making their comebacks well after they have died.

Elvis Presley

The King left the building 37 years before, but in 2008 his hologram performed a duet on American Idol with Celine Dion.

Some fans were mesmerised, others thought it was “creepy”.

Tupac

Rapper Tupac Shakur, who was shot dead in 1996, shocked a 2012 festival crowd of 80,000 when he appeared (as a hologram) alongside Dr Dre and Snoop, and yelled: “What the f*** is up, Coachellaaa!”

Tupac performed at Coachella as a hologram in 2012
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Tupac performed at Coachella as a hologram in 2012

He then performed several hits, including Hail Mary and his Snoop collaboration, 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.

After disappearing in a burst of fragments, there was a moment of complete silence from the crowd before Eminem came out to cheers.

His short hologram performance kicked off a stream of similar appearances.

Michael Jackson

Nearly five years after his death, the King of Pop returned as a hologram to moonwalk at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014.

Appearing with both real and hologram backing dancers he sang Slave To The Rhythm, a song released after his death.

Michael Jackson's hologram performed the moonwalk at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards
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Michael Jackson’s hologram performed the moonwalk at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards

Hatsune Miku

The 16-year-old Japanese pop star opened for Lady Gaga’s 2014 tour and went on her own world tour in 2019.

Unlike most other holograms, that is all she is. She has never been a real person, despite sell-out concerts around the world.

Hatsune Miku is a Japanese virtual singer
Image:
Hatsune Miku is a Japanese virtual singer

Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly

Inspired by Tupac’s reappearance, late 20th Century American rock and roll singer Roy Orbison was brought back to life in 2018.

Orbison died in 1988 but performed full-length concerts during a 2018 tour of the UK, Europe, North America and Australia.

So successful was the tour that they added a hologram of Buddy Holly, who died in a 1959 car crash, to his performances in 2019.

Roy Orbison's hologram went on tour in 2018
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Roy Orbison’s hologram went on tour in 2018

Maria Callas

Also prompted by Tupac’s performance, opera legend Maria Callas went on tour as a hologram in 2018 with 90-minute shows.

The irony of her singing “The dead don’t rise again from the grave”, from Verdi’s Macbeth, was not lost on audiences.

Opera singer Maria Callas went on tour in 2018, 41 years after her death
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Opera singer Maria Callas went on tour in 2018, 41 years after her death

Frank Zappa

American musician and singer Frank Zappa appeared as a hologram in 2019, more than 25 years after he died from prostate cancer aged 52.

A few years before he died, he wrote in his autobiography that he would love to take on “Intercontinental Absurdities” – widely presumed to be a hologram tour.

The Bizarre World of Franz Zappa, featuring former members of his bands, was “a hit” with his fans, Rolling Stone magazine wrote at the time.

Whitney Houston as a hologram
Image:
Whitney Houston as a hologram

Amy Winehouse

While the holograms who went before her were widely welcomed by their fans, Amy Winehouse’s planned 2019 hologram tour was as controversial as her life.

After announcing it would go ahead with a live band and singers, producers BASE Hologram postponed the show due to “some unique challenges and sensitivies”.

Her father, Mitch Winehouse, had given his blessing and proceeds were to go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation for addiction awareness and prevention.

However, others in the arts industry had questioned the ethics of making a hologram of the singer, who died in 2011 aged 27 of alcohol poisoning and struggled with bulimia and addiction.



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