Rob Thomas Remembers His Friend George Michael

Knowing him was "a true gift," he said.

— -- Imagine growing up idolizing someone and then becoming friends with them later in life. That's what happened with Rob Thomas and George Michael.

Thomas met the late British superstar through their manager.

"To be able to have that kind of insight ... not just [into] someone that you admire, but someone that you admire that does what you want to do, at a level that you can only hope that you would ever be able to do it ... I think it's a gift to be able to know somebody like that," Thomas told ABC News.

He added, "I would sit at his house with him in Texas and we'd sit up late at night having many, many wines and ... just talking about what I was on track about, and maybe what I could change, and how to not be so self-conscious."

Thomas says Michael was even OK with how much he'd actually "ripped off" from him, from album covers to song titles to the video for his top-10 hit "Lonely No More," which Thomas admits he "took straight from the 'Faith' [play]-book."

The former Matchbox 20 frontman also admired Michael as a songwriter.

"I think that's why everybody over the last few days since Christmas has just been going through [his] entire catalog, and just going, 'Oh, I forgot about that one! ... Oh, and that one!'" he continued. "It's just ... your entire life -- not just your childhood, but your entire life -- just kinda coming back before your eyes."

Michael, 53, was found dead in his home on Christmas Day.