Write Away Magazine Dec 2019

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George Michael

We’vetaken a look at the Christmas classic but there was so

much more to George Michael and Wham! So let’s take a

little time to discover the iconic 1980’s pop duo.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgley first burst on the

scene way back in 1983 with their debut single “Young

guns , go for it” The first of many of what would be one of

the most commercially successful pop acts of the 1980’s.

Michael and Ridgley first met at Bushey Meads School

in Bushey near the town of Watford in Hertfordshire.

For a short time they formed a SKA band called The

Executive with a few other class mates before forming

Wham! in 1980.

Michael took on the majority of roles and responsibilities

within the band—composer,

producer, lead singer, and occasional instru

mentalist. Still teenagers, they promoted

themselves as hedonistic youngsters,

proud to live a carefree life without

work or commitment. This was

reflected in their earliest singles

which, part-parody, part-social

comment, briefly earned Wham! a

reputation as a dance protest

group.

In order to move to a recording

contract with Sony label Epic,

Wham! was forced to walk away

from most of the royalties from

their debut album, Fantastic.

None of that mattered when their

1984 single, “Wake Me up Before

You Go Go,” became a worldwide hit,

accompanied by a video of the pair

cavorting in their sportswear. Almost

immediately, George Michael started thinking

of a solo career, and released “Careless

Whisper,” issued in the U.S. as George Michael of

Wham! The duo embarked on a much-publicized trip to China

and enjoyed considerable success in America.

Andrew Ridgley

also tried to go it solo but could

not recover from the Wham! split-up. He tried

his hand at Formula 3 motor racing but, again, without much

success.

George Michael’s popularity continued to grow despite the

adverse headlines until Christmas Day 2016 when at the age of

53, he died of a heart and liver condition.

Owing to the delay in determining the cause of death, Michael’s

funeral was held 29 March 2017. In a private ceremony, he

was buried at Highgate Cemetery in north London, near his

mother’s grave. That summer an informal memorial garden

was created outside his former home in Highgate. The site, in a

private square that Michael had owned, is tended by fans.

Like us all, George Michael had his issues. But his talents

coupled with his integrity, generosity+and honesty made him

one of the best loved superstars of the 1980’s and 1990’s. His

Christmas hit, ‘Last Christmas’ will ensure that he will live on

in our hearts for many years to come. The group ‘Wham’ still

remains today as an influence to any young musical act and the

ultimate in the fun of music.

Wham!’s end came rather suddenly, in 1985, reputedly when

the group’s manager, Simon Napier-Bell (later to manage Take

That), decided to sell a share of his management to a

South African entertainment conglomerate.

Supposedly, as part of a stand against South African

politics, George Michael immediately announced

Wham!’s breakup. They gave their farewell performance

before a sold-out audience of 72,000 fans at London’s

Wembley Stadium.

George Michael embarked on a solo career which rarely

saw him out of the press, not only for the amazing music

he was producing but also a few embarrassing incidents in

which he was involved in public sex acts and other

misdemeanours involving the law.

GEORGE MICHAEL

1963 - 2016

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