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George Michael

George Michael was the biggest British pop star of the 1980s, spinning a series of infectiously catchy pop singles into global stardom that saw him sell over 100 million albums worldwide. Blessed with good looks, a fine voice, and a knack for writing engaging melodies that worked well with dance-friendly rhythms, Michael became the rare teen sensation who matured into a respected star as an adult, though his life after achieving pop icon status has not been without personal and creative challenges.

Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963 in the North London suburb of East Finchley; his father was a Greek Cypriot restaurant owner who changed his name from Kyriacos Panayiotou to Jack Michael when he immigrated to England in the 1950s. Michael's family relocated to Bushey, Hertfordshire when he was in his early teens, and he struck up a friendship with one of his new schoolmates, Andrew Ridgeley. Both Michael and Ridgeley were interested in music, and in 1979 they formed a ska band called the Executive; the group didn't go far, but it gave them a taste for the spotlight, and they took what they learned and in 1981 formed a pop duo called Wham! The early Wham! demos impressed executives at Innervision, an independent record label that signed the group to a contract. By 1982, Wham! had hit the U.K. pop charts with "Wham Rap" and "Young Guns (Go for It)," and scored an American record deal with Columbia.

However, Michael and Ridgeley soon discovered how unfavorable their deal with Innervision was, and they opted out of their contract by forfeiting all future royalties on material from their first album, Fantastic, to sign with Sony worldwide. The choice proved to be shrewd; Wham!'s second album, 1984's Make It Big, transformed them from British hitmakers to a genuine international sensation, as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Everything She Wants," "Careless Whisper," and "Freedom" became wildly successful in the U.K., Europe, and the United States. Wham! soon became one of the biggest new acts on earth, and in 1985 they became the first Western pop group to tour the People's Republic of China. But Michael displayed an ambition that went beyond Wham!'s new success, and the "Careless Whisper" single was released with the credit "Wham! Featuring George Michael," setting the stage for him to strike out on his own. In 1986, after Michael had released a proper solo single, "A Different Corner," Wham! announced their breakup and said farewell to their fans with a sold-out concert at London's Wembley Stadium.

Michael wasted no time making his mark on his own, releasing his first solo album, Faith, in 1987. He produced and arranged the album, as well as writing the songs, and it managed to top Wham!'s phenomenal success, spawning a series of major hit singles (including "I Want Your Sex," "Father Figure," "Kissing a Fool," and the title track) and selling over 20 million copies worldwide, moving close to ten million units in the United States alone. Michael promoted the album with a series of stylish, sexy music videos and a concert tour that found him playing 137 shows over the space of 16 months. Faith left no doubt that Michael was one of the new icons of pop music, and after recording successful duets with Elton John ("Wrap It Up" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me") and Aretha Franklin ("I Knew You Were There [Waiting for Me]"), he proved he had the respect of veteran acts as well as the younger audience.

However, Michael felt reined in by his image as a sexy pop singer, and after taking a well-deserved vacation in 1989, he released Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 in 1990, a set that was noticeably more somber, sophisticated, and personal than his previous work. Presumably to put the focus on his music rather than his image, Michael refused to appear in any music videos for the album and declined to tour in support; the album fared well commercially, but not as well as Faith, and Michael began expressing dissatisfaction with Sony, declaring his contract was financially inequitable and creatively stifling. Michael sued Sony to end his contract, leading to a long and costly legal battle that ended in 1995, with Michael signing to the newly launched Dreamworks Records label in the United States and Virgin in the rest of the world. (During the interim, Michael released a live EP that included material he performed with the surviving members of Queen at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.) In 1996, Michael finally released his third solo effort, Older, which followed in the more contemplative vein of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1. While the album went platinum in the United States, it was considered a commercial disappointment considering the success of Michael's previous work, though it fared better in Europe and the U.K.

In 1998, Michael released Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael, a career-inclusive two-disc anthology that featured solo material as well as recordings with Wham! It also included a new song, "Outside"; the song and its video were created in response to a widely publicized incident in which Michael was arrested by an undercover cop in Los Angeles for "performing a lewd act" in a public restroom. After the arrest made headlines, Michael publicly acknowledged his homosexuality, and in time it was revealed that the song "Jesus to a Child" from Older was written in tribute to his late partner Anselmo Feleppa, who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1993. In 1999, Michael released an album of covers, Songs from the Last Century, which was released worldwide by Virgin after Michael parted ways with Dreamworks.

In 2002, Michael signed a new record deal with Polydor and released the single "Freeek," with a new album expected to follow. However, the subsequent full-length release, Patience, didn't arrive until 2004, and in a surprising move, it was issued not by Polydor, but the Sony-affiliated Epic label after Michael returned to the company he'd left nine years earlier. Michael also told journalists that he expected it to be his final commercially released album, adding he hoped to release future material online, with any proceeds going to charity. A second career-inclusive two-CD collection, Twenty-Five, was issued in 2008, and arrived after Michael once again found himself the subject of some controversy. In 2006 and 2007, he had been arrested on drug-related offenses in the U.K., and in 2010, he'd served four weeks in Suffolk's Highpoint Prison after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of cannabis. During a 2006 television interview, Michael smoked what appeared to be a joint and spoke openly of his marijuana use, saying, "I'd say it's a great drug, but obviously it's not very healthy. You can't afford to smoke it if you've got anything to do."

Michael continued with the Twenty-Five tour in 2008, touring North America for the first time in 17 years. Over the next five years, Michael toured regularly, starting the Symphonica tour in 2011. This orchestral pop tour was captured on record by producer Phil Ramone, who died before the album could be released. Michael completed the album and issued it under the title Symphonica in March 2014. ~ Mark Deming
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Patience

1. Patience

2. Amazing

3. John And Elvis Are Dead

4. Cars And Trains

5. Round Here

6. My Mother Had A Brother

7. Flawless (Go To The City)

8. American Angel

9. Precious Box

10. Please Send Me Someone (Anselmo's Song)

11. Freeek! '04

12. Through

x

Track List: Songs From The Last Century

1. Brother Can You Spare A Dime

2. Roxanne

3. You've Changed

4. My Baby Just Cares For Me

5. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

6. Miss Sarajevo

7. I Remember You

8. Secret Love

9. Wild Is The Wind

10. Where Or When

x

Track List: Ladies & Gentlemen - The Best Of George Michael

Disc 1

1. Jesus To A Child

2. Father Figure

3. Careless Whisper

5. You Have Been Loved

6. Kissing A Fool

7. I Can't Make You Love Me

8. Heal The Pain

9. A Moment With You

11. Cowboys And Angels

12. Praying For Time

13. One More Try

14. A Different Corner

Disc 2

1. Outside

2. Fastlove

3. Too Funky

4. Freedom 90

5. Star People 97

7. I Want Your Sex

8. Monkey

9. Spinning The Wheel

12. Hard Day

13. Faith

x

Track List: Older

1. Jesus To A Child

2. Fastlove

3. Older

4. Spinning The Wheel

5. It Doesn't Really Matter

6. The Strangest Thing

7. To Be Forgiven

8. Move On

9. Star People

10. You Have Been Loved

11. Free

x

Track List: Listen Without Prejudice

1. Praying For Time

2. Freedom! '90

3. They Won't Go When I Go

4. Something To Save

5. Cowboys And Angels

6. Waiting For That Day / You Can't Always Get What You Want

7. Mother's Pride

8. Heal The Pain

9. Soul Free

10. Waiting (Reprise)

x

Track List: Faith

1. Faith

2. Father Figure

4. One More Try

5. Hard Day

6. Hand To Mouth

7. Look At Your Hands

8. Monkey

9. Kissing A Fool

10. Hard Day (Shep Pettibone Remix)

Comments

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R.I.P. Thank you for all the good music you will be remembered!. . . . . . . . . . .
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cknight472
I don't think, I know.
All those years seeing your videos on MTV, listening to your music.
I started listening to heavy/punk/ & grunge music...yet. . . y o u were always my MAN George.
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I always loved this song. Michael was a true talent! Love you till the end of time.....
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Thanks for the memories.
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Rip!!
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Love him...R.I.P Michael
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One of the all time greats...
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R.I.P George Michael, great songs
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can't stop listening to his music; crushed by his untimely passing...Pr a y i n g For Time, Father Figure, Too Funky, Freedom, etc., such a loss, such a gentle spirit gone too soon
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I danced to this song with the girl that was going to be my girlfriend we kissed at the end of the song and she said what took you so long:-) great memory Anna Grainger haven't seen her since 86 87
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steppinoutst a f f
RIP to the guy who I grew up dancing to in the basement of my childhood home. Still dancing to your music today. Always a legend.
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R.I.P George Michael, your "Careless Whispers" will always be remembered. Choose life and have faith.
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RIP George. You have been my favorite artist since I was 7. I love your music, lyrics and voice. I saw you live and your singing was amazing.

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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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In our hearts you will always remain with us we will never forget you George you mean a lot to us if we think of you all the time you have never really left us
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Served army in 1983!!!! Wham did keep me sane thanks George. You live on/ CICIA
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I so can't that believe he's gone!!His music n voice r just so addicting!wh a t a hot n super talented entertainer he his!
RIP George Michael
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m83471319
R I.P George Michael
Love you and your music. You were a Gorgeous man with a Awesome voice to sing. ��������✝��
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lildeb4u6
Why do we wait till they are gone to appreciate these beautiful and talented artists. Listen,buy, download songs today!! Love you George Michael. Now you rest. ��

Lildeb
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Still in shock that he is gone. Can't accept it, it's too hard. After listening to him for so many years I was lucky to see him in 2008 during the twenty-five tour in Phx, AZ. What a showman. His legacy will live on forever. Be at peace Micheal. Never forgotten.
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R.i.p. we will always love you...life and death. For life.
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RIP great artist
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RIP George. A beautiful person gone way too soon.
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RIP George, you are sadly missed
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RIP SWEETIE...LO V E HIS MUSIC
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RIP George.....
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Im so heartbroken over his passing sleep with the Angels George
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It's hard to fathom that he is really gone...
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RIP, George! What a beautiful man with beautiful talent! Gone too soon!
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Fan 4 Life!
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I've always been a fan of George Michael. All the way back to when he was a part of Wham! Great and talented artist who'll be dearly missed.
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You have been loved ! I hung with the tough guys back in the day we lived on Metallica - then I heard George and became a lifelong huge fan especially with his Patience - Older - Listen without prejudice - Symphonica and especially his live MTV performances - his voice was amazing - also what he gave to charity was also huge! I am happy his wonderful voice helped me smile when I changed out the Metallica CD to Listen without Prejudice and watched my friends sing along.
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Rip GM. Thank you for your beautiful voice and soul.
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������
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My Favorite Song Rip George Michael
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Now this is a song George at his best
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jerryhall102 9
A true songbird! RIP George.
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heavy heart filled with sadness at a piece of my childhood that is now only memories. It was comforting to know that you were there and now that you are gone your music will live on. RIP
Report as inappropriate
artbyskym
His death really hit me hard :( such a shock out of nowhere. Hope he's resting in peace, such a tortured soul with a great heart and voice.
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glamslamr
2016 was a very sad year for the world of music...Espe c i a l l y for a child growing up in the '80s. Rest in peace George. Gone but not forgotten.
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Teacher is actually called, One More Try
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L)
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Gone too soon!! You will be missed :-)))
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where can i find his song called Teacher
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fabyvargas15
R.I.P. George Michal. I will miss you. I remember when WHAM premier in 1984, I was 14 years old than. This Christmas was a very sad one. You will be missed. I will forever consider you as part of my child hood. Thank you for sharing your talent and wonderful memories I have with the songs. May GOD bless you.
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fabyvargas15
I remember when I was 14 years old and WHAM premier in the states. I've been a fan ever since than. It was a better sad Christmas. I am still in shock! may God bless him.
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fgonzalez668
I've been his fan since 1983.
R.I.P. ( Like a Jesus to a Child )
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Have listened to him since I was young. RIP Beautiful Singer. Sing it up over the rainbow. You will be greatly missed.
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manuelcynthi a 1 2
One the most beautiful voices ever to grace this lifetime; Unforgettabl e .
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jaw.dl.sd
*heavy sigh*
RIP
GM....
Your beautiful soul,
Timeless music
&
Legend WILL live on
In the minds & hearts of Bizzilions
Of fans!!

0;o)))
Show more

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