Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, London, to a Greek Cypriot father and an English mother, Michael began his career by forming a band called The Executive together with his best friend Andrew Ridgeley, a fellow pupil at Bushey Meads School, though it did not survive for long.
It wasn't until he formed the duo Wham! together again with Ridgeley in 1981 that the success came for the band. Their first album, Fantastic!, was an instant success, and within a year they had released their classic debut single, Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do), while their second single, Young Guns (Go For It), became the first in a string of Top 10 hits in the UK singles chart. They were rapidly followed by titles such as Bad Boys , Club Tropicana, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Freedom, Last Christmas/Everything She Wants, I'm Your Man and a second album, Make It Big. George also sang on the original Band Aid recording of Do They Know It's Christmas and donated the profits from Last Christmas/Everything She Wants to the charity. He also added background vocals to David Cassidy 1985 hit The Last Kiss.
With the success of his solo releases Careless Whisper (1984) and A Different Corner (1986) stories of an impending Wham! split intensified, and Wham! duly separated in the summer of 1986 after a farewell single, The Edge of Heaven and album, plus a sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium.
Some of his biggest hit singles as a solo artist include the single "Faith" (taken from his debut album Faith that not only became number one on both sides of the Atlantic but also resulted in stunning four number one singles in America) and many more. In 1986 he dueted with both Aretha Franklin and Jody Watley, the latter being the least well known and found on Fodies Album. The song was originally an anti-drug song. In 1989 he again sang backing vocals on a record called Heaven Help Me with longtime friend Deon Estuss. The song was written by both of them, and just missed out on the British the top 40, but reached #5 in America.
"Careless Whisper" (written when he was seventeen) became one of the most played songs of the decade and voted Londoner's Favourite record of all time in January 1995 in a competition run jointly by the capital's leading evening newspaper and radio station. He was then also voted Best Male Singer by the same radio station and by the readers of a national newspaper. Some of his other hits include "Father Figure", "Kissing a Fool", "One More Try", "Freedom 90", "Fastlove", "Jesus to a Child", "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (a duet with Elton John), 2002's "Freeek!" and the controversial anti-war/anti-Bush song and music video "Shoot the Dog" .
His work covers a variety of pop styles, from ballads to funky dance tracks. In a career spanning more than twenty years, George Michael has been responsible for more than 80 million album sales.
Having decided to release his new material through a number of labels on a single-by-single basis, Michael found a home at Sony for his new, highly anticipated album Patience. It was released in March 2004 after two popular singles released through Polydor Records. Patience debuted at number one on the UK album charts and number two in Australia.
During the 2005 event Live 8, George Michael joined Paul McCartney on stage, harmonizing on "Drive My Car". He couldn't perform a separate set himself because of a head cold. At the event, Michael told BBC Radio 1 that he's writing and recording music at home and hinted that he may in fact tour in 2006.
It was announced on April 21, 2006 that he would embark on a 50 date tour in 2006 called "25 Live" to commemorate 25 years of being in the music business, as both a solo artist and as part of Wham! The tour is set to kick of September 27, 2006 in Madrid, Spain. A new greatest hits package will be released to coincide with the tour. The new album will feature four new tracks.
This will be the fourth "best of" package of George Michael material after 1986's "The Final", 1997's "If You Were There" (both Wham! collections) and 1998's solo collection "Ladies & Gentlemen".
Michael has also stated that he's recording a new version of "Heal the Pain" with Paul McCartney. "We're doing some recording later this week actually. We're gonna do another version of one of my old songs called "Heal the Pain" – which I wrote as a tribute to him and so I'm incredibly honoured that he's gonna sing it for me," Michael said.
Publicity & notoriety
Michael was involved in a 1993 court case concerning his record contract after his record company CBS was taken over by Sony. Amongst Michael's complaints was that Sony had not fully supported the release of his second solo album resulting in its poor performance in the U.S. compared to Faith. Sony responded that Michael had refused to appear in promotional videos and it was this that had caused the poor response to the album. The case was heard in London and was found against Michael. As a consequence, Michael declared he would not release any new material until he had completed the minimum of his contractual obligations to Sony.
Michael is also well known for his April 7 1998, arrest for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public restroom in a Beverly Hills city park. He was arrested by an undercover Beverly Hills police officer named Marcelo Rodriguez.
After pleading "no contest" to the charge, Michael was fined $810 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. Soon afterwards, Michael made a video for his single "Outside" which was clearly based on the public restroom incident and which featured men dressed up as policemen kissing. Rodriguez, the police officer, claimed that this video "mocked" him, and also that Michael had slandered him in interviews, and in 1999 filed a ten million dollar lawsuit in California against the singer. The court dismissed the case on the grounds related to the officer's status as a kind of public official, but an appeals court reinstated the case on December 3 2002.
Michael has often taken a public political stance. In 1984, he sang as part of Band Aid on the charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for famine relief in Ethiopia. This single held the number one position in the UK music charts over Christmas 1984, holding Michael's own song, "Last Christmas" by Wham!, at number two. Michael donated the royalties from "Last Christmas" to Band Aid and subsequently sang with Elton John at Live Aid (the Band Aid charity concert) in 1985.
In the 1980s, George Michael was very critical of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party government and its cruise missile alliance with the United States. George said that he felt bad, since through his taxes he was paying for these weapons, yet was obliged to never dodge his tax obligations to his home country.
In a recent interview with Michael Parkinson on Britain's Itv network, Michael announced his intention to tour for the first time in 15 years.
He announced that he would embark on a 50-date European tour entitled Hits 25 beginning in Barcelona on September 23rd, 2006, and winding up at Wembley Arena in London in December.
George Michael also intends to release a second greatest hits collection in the fall with four new tracks. His new single "An Easier Affair" debuted on radio on May 24, 2006 and will be released by AE Aegean/Sony BMG as a download on 19th June followed by a CD release on June 26.
George Michael died in Goring-on-Thames. After a long post-mortem a coroner revealed that the cause of his death was a dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and a fatty liver. George Michael's funeral was at March 29, 2017. It was a private ceremony.
- Official website
- The George Michael Collector - Extensive collection of rare George & Wham! + Tour Info
- Yours Only George - Your Link to the George Michael World
- George Michael Info Net
- George Michael, Foro de SuperFans en Español, Noticias, Información de Gira Europea 2006
- George Michael Tribute Forum
- Tourbook of 25live
- Remarkable's Buzzin' Blog