George Michael

  • Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in 1963 in London England. Died in 2016, initial cause of death was deemed inconclusive, and later tests attributed his death to natural causes as a result of an enlarged heart and inflammation of the heart muscle, and a fatty liver.
  • Michael met Andrew Ridgeley in his early teens at school. Both were interested in a career in music. Michael worked as a DJ and street performer, and then formed a ska band with Ridgeley and others, named The Executive. In 1981, Michael and Ridgeley partnered to form the dance-pop duo Wham!
  • Wham! was successful immediately. They made 3 studio albums between 1983 and 1986. The first, Fantastic, hit #1 in the UK. The second, Make It Big, hit #1 in the UK and the U.S., selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. There were 3 #1 hits from the Make It Big album – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper, and Everything She Wants, and the single Freedom peaked at #3. The third album, Music From the Edge of Heaven, also did well, with the single I’m a Man peaking at #3 on the Billbord Hot 100 chart.
  • Careless Whisper was credited to Wham!, but it actually was a solo piece by Michael. In 1986, he issued another solo single, A Different Corner. With these successful solo works, Wham! split up in 1986, and Michael started his solo career.
  • His first solo work after Wham! was a duet with Aretha Franklin, I Knew You Were Waiting, in early 1987. It hit #1, and won a Grammy Award.
  • His first solo album was released in late 1987, Faith. Its first single, I Want Your Sex, was controversial because of its sexually suggestive lyrics (oh, how times have changed!). MTV would only broadcast the video late at night, and Casey Kasem of American Top 40 would not say the title on air – he referred to it as “the new single by George Michael.” I guess all publicity is good – the single hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. There were 4 singles on the album that all hit #1 on the Hot 100 chart – Faith, Father Figure, One More Try, and Monkey. The album itself was at #1 on the album chart for 12 weeks, and it sold over 10 million copies in the U.S., and 25 million worldwide.
  • His follow-up album released in 1990 was Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1. With this album, he attempted to establish a reputation of a serious minded artist. He did not do any promotion for the album, and only 2 singles had videos, which were created after the singles were successful. The videos did not feature Michael in them. Despite the toned down promotion, over 2 million records were sold in the U.S. and 8 million worldwide. Seven singles were released – Praying for Time hit #1 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • In 1991, he performed with Elton John on John’s Duets album, singing Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me. The song reached #1 in the U.S. and many other countries.
  • Michael went into seclusion for several years. In 1996, he released his third studio album, Older. It included the song Jesus to a Child, which he performed for the first time in late 1994, as a tribute to his late lover Anselmo Feleppa, who had died of AIDS a year and a half earlier. The song hit #1 in the UK and #7 in the U.S. The next single from the album was Fastlove, which hit #1 in the UK, and #8 in the U.S.
  • Two more albums were released by Michael. Songs from the Last Century, released in 1999, were cover versions of old jazz standards, as well as a couple of more recent songs (Roxanne by The Police and Miss Sarajevo by U2 and Brian Eno). His final studio album was 2004’s Patience. The album was huge in Europe, while sales in the U.S. were modest.
  • Michael remained active in music. He toured, he released several singles on his website (the singles were free, and those that downloaded the songs were encouraged to make donations to charities). He was the first artist ever to appear on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. 
  • Michael was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2023.
  • Michael was a supporter of many charities. He participated in the group Band Aid, formed for famine relief, and performed at the group charity concert Live Aid in 1985. He raised funds for HIV/AIDS causes, as well as cancer research.
  • George Michael was a pop superstar in every sense. When you think of the music of the 80s, Michael is one of the definers of that sound. Here’s the video to his mega hit, Faith. The video is perfect in showing the style and persona that was George Michael.

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