June 25, 1963– Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou won me over big with Wham! & the song Careless Whisper in 1984 (the favorite year of my life, so far), & I have never let him go. The hits kept coming & I was right there for the next 30+ years. I am just a sucker for a hot ass in a tight pair of jeans, a leather jacket, & a Greek face with some stubble. Add in those phenomenal pipes & the killer hooks & it is a love affair for me.
“There is no such thing as a reluctant star.”
George Michael was the first white male to top the Black Music charts & the first white male to duet with Aretha Franklin with the infectious single I Knew You Were Waiting. His breakout solo album Faith (1987) had 5 #1 hit singles & spent 51 weeks in the Billboard Top 10, including 12 weeks at #1. He wrote, arranged & produced the songs on the album. Faith sold 30 million copies, Kids, that is huge! Like Beyoncé huge.
Faith left Michael struggling to deal with his secret homosexuality. The feelings of loneliness, disaffection are themes on his next album Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1. (1990). That album had a more soulful & stripped-down sound, producing 5 Top 40 hits: Waiting For That Day, Cowboys & Angels, Heal The Pain, Praying For Time & his personal confessional song Freedom! 90. It sold 8 million copies & spent 42 weeks on the Billboard Top 100 charts. That is gigantic, kids! Like Taylor Swift gigantic!
Michael’s album Older (1996) is my personal favorite, an album that speaks to me in a deep personal way because, well, I’m older. Older was the soundtrack of my life at the turn of the century. I was moved by the title track & the mournful Like Jesus To A Child. That gorgeous tune was a salutation to Michael’s secret boyfriend, Brazilian fashion designer Anselmo Feleppa. Feleppa had left this world 3 years earlier, gone from an AIDS-related brain hemorrhage, leaving Michael feeling alone & despondent. Michael was not out of the closet at this point & no one knew who the song was about. Older has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide & it spent more than 96 weeks on the charts. That is like Ed Sheeran big!
After dealing with the death of Feleppa, Michael met his future husband, American Kenny Goss. In 2005, Goss & Michael opened the Goss Gallery in Dallas, which showed contemporary art, including work collected by the couple. They had homes in London & Dallas. While the comfort of this new relationship started to ease his pain, he soon lost his mother to cancer, a loss that tormented George for several years to come. He did not write or record during that period, except Songs From The Last Century (2000), a most excellent album of standards. On the opening night of his world tour in 2011, Michael announced that he & Goss had split 2 years earlier, in 2009.
In 1998, Michael was arrested in Beverly Hills park bathroom on a charge of lewd conduct. Who among of us has not? The arrest made worldwide headlines, he became the butt of jokes by late night comedians, but it pushed Michael out of the closet. Smartly, owning it, Michael satirized the incident in the hit single Outside. In 1999, that undercover policeman, Marcelo Rodriguez, attempted to sue Michael for 10 million dollars following the release of the video of Outside, which Rodriguez felt had portrayed him in an unfavorable light. Rodriguez was unsuccessful.
Michael has been arrested 6 times, 4 accounts of cannabis possession, driving under the influence, & once for public indecency. He has done actual prison time.This is how I expect my music heroes to behave. Sex, Drugs & Rock N’ Roll was coined for this very reason.
“I’m surprised that I’ve survived my own dysfunction, really.”
In 2004, Michael released Patience, which sold more than 200,000 copies in the first week. It spun several Top 10 hits including Freeek!, Amazing & Flawless (Go To The City), all are dedicated to Goss. In 2006, George Michael announced his first tour in 15 years. The 25 LiveTour was massive & worldwide. It spanned 3 individual sold-out tours over the course of 3 years. That is major! Like Paul McCartney major!
I was in a panic when he almost died. Michael was admitted to hospital in Vienna, in November 2011, after complaining of chest pains at a hotel while on tour. Michael later confirmed that he had suffered from pneumonia & was in an intensive-care unit for more than a month & he underwent a tracheotomy. Michael’s boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, was at his side. Michael publically thanked the staff at the Vienna General Hospital who saved his life & he has stated how he was grateful that he was able to perform a concert for the staff.
Not exactly looking for my heartbreak, in May 2013, Michael fell from his moving automobile on whatever they call a freeway in Britain & had to be airlifted to a hospital. He sustained a head injury, but I have seen recent photographs of Grammy Award winning artist & he still looks handsome.
“As I’ve grown older I’ve become so much more aware of how intrinsic it is to my entire being to be able to create music.”
His last album Symphonica, a collection of his favorite songs, some of his own, some by others, all backed by a full orchestra, was released in spring 2014. It was the last album produced by the great Phil Ramone before his passing. It was Michael’s 9th solo number to reach #1 on the charts.
My sources tell me that these days Michael seldom leaves his mansion in London’s Highgate area where his neighbors are Kate Moss & Sting. We share this late-in-life desire to become a recluse.
I am rather pleased that he lived. 30+ years after the first Wham! Single- Wham Rap, written with his school cum, poor forgotten Andrew Ridgeley, his music still means a great deal to me. I am going to have George Michael listening fest today.
Don’t you think I’m looking older?
But something good has happened to me
Change is a stranger
You have yet to know”