George Michael was an English singer, songwiter and producer who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham!. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about him!
1.His full name was Giorgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.
2. He was born on June 25, 1963.
3. George Michael was born in East Finchley, London. His father, Kyriacos Panayiotou, a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, moved to England in the 1950s and changed his name to Jack Panos. Michael’s mother, Lesley Angold (née Harrison; 1937–1997), was an English dancer; his maternal grandmother was Jewish.
4. Michael spent the majority of his childhood in Kingsbury, London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth; he attended Kingsbury High School.
5. While in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire. There, Michael attended Bushey Meads School in the neighbouring town of Bushey, where he befriended his future Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley.
6. The two had the same career ambition of being musicians. Michael would busk on the London Underground, performing songs such as “’39” by Queen.
7. His involvement in the music business began with his working as a DJ, playing at clubs and local schools around Bushey, Stanmore, and Watford. This was followed by the formation of a short-lived ska band called the Executive, with Ridgeley, Ridgeley’s brother Paul, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer (later known as David Austin
8. George Michael formed the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band’s first album Fantastic reached No. 1 in the UK in 1983 and produced a series of top 10 singles including “Young Guns”, “Wham Rap!” and “Club Tropicana”.
9. Their second album, Make It Big, reached No. 1 on the charts in the US. Singles from that album included “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (No. 1 in the UK and US), “Freedom”, “Everything She Wants”, and “Careless Whisper” which reached No. 1 in nearly 25 countries, including the UK and US, and was Michael’s first solo effort as a single.
10. George Michael sang on the original Band Aid recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (which became the UK Christmas number one) and donated the profits from “Last Christmas/Everything She Wants” to charity.
11. He also contributed background vocals to David Cassidy’s 1985 hit “The Last Kiss”, as well as Elton John’s 1985 successes “Nikita” and “Wrap Her Up”.
12. Michael cited Cassidy as a major career influence and interviewed Cassidy for David Litchfield’s Ritz Newspaper.
13. Wham!’s tour of China in April 1985, the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, generated worldwide media coverage, much of it centred on Michael.
14. Before Wham!’s appearance in China, many kinds of music in the country were forbidden. The audience included members of the Chinese government, and Chinese television presenter, Kan Lijun. The tour was documented by film director Lindsay Anderson and producer Martin Lewis in their film Foreign Skies: Wham! In China.
15, With the success of Michael’s solo singles, “Careless Whisper” (1984) and “A Different Corner” (1986), rumours of an impending break up of Wham! intensified.
16. The duo officially separated in 1986, after releasing a farewell single, “The Edge of Heaven” and a singles compilation, The Final, plus a sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium that included the world premiere of the China film.
17. The Wham! partnership ended officially with the commercially successful single “The Edge of Heaven”, which reached No. 1 on the UK chart in June 1986.
18. The beginning of his solo career, during early 1987, was a duet with Aretha Franklin. “I Knew You Were Waiting” was a one-off project that helped Michael achieve an ambition by singing with one of his favourite artists, and it scored number one on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 upon its release
19. For Michael, it became his third consecutive solo number one in the UK from three releases, after 1984’s “Careless Whisper” (though the single was actually from the Wham! album Make It Big) and 1986’s “A Different Corner”.
20. The single was also the first Michael had recorded as a solo artist which he had not written himself.
21. The co-writer, Simon Climie, was unknown at the time, although he would have success as a performer with the band Climie Fisher in 1988. Michael and Aretha Franklin won a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance – Duo or Group with Vocal for the song
22. In late 1987, Michael released his debut solo album, Faith. In addition to playing a large number of instruments on the album, he wrote and produced every track on the recording, except for one, which he co-wrote.
23. The first single released from the album was “I Want Your Sex”, in mid-1987. The song was banned by many radio stations in the UK and US, due to its sexually suggestive lyrics.
25. MTV broadcast the video, featuring celebrity make-up artist Kathy Jeung in a basque and suspenders, only during the late night hours.
26. Some radio stations played a toned-down version of the song, “I Want Your Love”, with the word “love” replacing “sex”.
27. When “I Want Your Sex” reached the US charts, American Top 40 host Casey Kasem refused to say the song’s title, referring to it only as “the new single by George Michael.” In the US, the song was also sometimes listed as “I Want Your Sex (from Beverly Hills Cop II)”, since the song was featured on the soundtrack of the movie. Despite censorship and radio play problems, “I Want Your Sex” reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 in the UK.
28. The second single, “Faith”, was released in October 1987, a few weeks before the album. “Faith” became one of his most popular songs. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and maintained that position for four consecutive weeks.
29. It also reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart. The video provided some definitive images of the 1980s music industry in the process—Michael in shades, leather jacket, cowboy boots, and Levi’s jeans, playing a guitar near a classic-design jukebox.
30. On 30 October, Faith was released in the UK and in several markets worldwide. In the United States, the album had 51 non-consecutive weeks in the top 10 of Billboard 200, including 12 weeks at No. 1. Faith had many successes, with four singles (“Faith”, “Father Figure”, “One More Try”, and “Monkey”) reaching No. 1 in the US.
31. In 1988, Michael embarked on a world tour. In Los Angeles, Michael was joined on stage by Aretha Franklin for “I Knew You Were Waiting”. It was the second highest grossing event of 1988, earning $17.7 million.
32. In February 1989, Faith won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 31st Grammy Awards. At the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards on 6 September in Los Angeles, Michael received the Video Vanguard Award.
33. According to Michael in his film, A Different Story, success did not make him happy and he started to think there was something wrong in being an idol for millions of teenage girls. The whole Faith process (promotion, videos, tour, awards) left him exhausted, lonely and frustrated, and far from his friends and family.
34. “Freedom ’90” was the second of only two of its singles to be supported by a music video (the other being the Michael-less “Praying for Time”). The song alludes to his struggles with his artistic identity, and prophesied his efforts shortly thereafter to end his recording contract with Sony Music
35. As if to prove the song’s sentiment, Michael refused to appear in the video (directed by David Fincher), and instead recruited supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, and Cindy Crawford to appear in and lip sync in his stead. It also featured the reduction of his sex symbol status.
36. At the 1991 Brit Awards, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 won the award for Best British Album.
37. George Michael performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on 20 April 1992 at London’s Wembley Stadium. The concert was a tribute to the life of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, with the proceeds going to AIDS research.
38. In his last ever radio interview Mercury had praised Michael adding that he loved his track “Faith”.
39. At the age of 19, Michael told Andrew Ridgeley and close friends that he was bisexual. Michael also told one of his two sisters, but he was advised by friends not to tell his parents about his sexuality.
40. In a 1999 interview with The Advocate, Michael told the Editor in Chief, Judy Wieder, that it was “falling in love with a man that ended his conflict over bisexuality”. “I never had a moral problem with being gay”, Michael told Wieder. “I thought I had fallen in love with a woman a couple of times. Then I fell in love with a man, and realized that none of those things had been love.”
41. In 2007, Michael said he had hidden the fact he was gay because of worries over what effect it might have on his mother.
42. George Michael established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian dress designer, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio.
42. Six months into their relationship, Feleppa discovered that he had HIV. Michael later said: “It was terrifying news. I thought I could have the disease too. I couldn’t go through it with my family because I didn’t know how to share it with them – they didn’t even know I was gay.”
42. In 1993, Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage.
43. George Michael’s single “Jesus to a Child” is a tribute to Feleppa (he consistently dedicated it to him before performing it live), as is his 1996 album Older.
44. In 1996, George Michael entered into a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, a former flight attendant, cheerleader coach and sportswear executive from Dallas. They had homes in Dallas and an £8 million mansion in Highgate, North London.
45. In late November 2005, it was reported that Michael and Goss would register their relationship as a civil partnership in the UK, but because of negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it to a later date.
46. On 22 August 2011, the opening night of his Symphonica world tour, George Michael announced that he and Goss had split two years earlier. Goss was present at Michael’s British sentencing for driving under the influence of cannabis on 14 September 2010.
47. Questions of Michael’s sexual orientation persisted in public until 7 April 1998, when he was arrested for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public restroom of the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, California.
48. On 26 February 2006, Michael was arrested for possession of Class C drugs, an incident that he described as “my own stupid fault, as usual.” He was cautioned by the police and released.
49. During September 2007, on Desert Island Discs, he said that his cannabis use was a problem; he wished he could smoke less of it and was constantly trying to do so.
50. On 5 December 2009, in an interview with The Guardian, Michael explained he had cut back on cannabis and now smoked only ‘seven or eight’ spliffs per day instead of the 25 he used to smoke.
51. In the early hours of Sunday 4 July 2010 Michael was returning from the Gay Pride parade. The singer was spotted on CCTV driving into the front of a Snappy Snaps store in Hampstead, North London and was arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive.
52. During the time of Margaret Thatcher as the Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom throughout the 1980s, Michael voted Labour.
53. Michael wrote “Shoot the Dog”, a song critical about the friendly relationship between the British and American governments, in particular Tony Blair and George W. Bush, with their involvement in the Iraq War.
54. During 2000, Michael joined Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah, the Pet Shop Boys, and k.d. lang, to perform in Washington, D.C. as part of ‘Equality Rocks’ – a concert to benefit the Human Rights Campaign.
55. He devoted his 2007 concert in Sofia, Bulgaria, from his “Twenty Five Tour” to the Bulgarian nurses prosecuted in the HIV trial in Libya.
56. On 17 June 2008, Michael said he was thrilled by California’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, calling the move “way overdue”
57. On 1 December 2011, doctors at the hospital in which George Michael had stayed announced that the singer was “steadily improving” and that he had moved out of the intensive care ward. On 21 December 2011, the hospital discharged Michael.
58. On 23 December 2011, Michael made a public speech outside his house in Highgate, London, in which he stated that the staff at the Vienna General Hospital had saved his life and that he would perform a free concert specifically for those staff. While making the speech, he became emotional and breathless.
59. During the speech, he also mentioned that he had undergone a tracheotomy. He also said that, after waking from the coma, he had a temporary West Country accent.
60. On 25 December 2016, Michael died in his sleep at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, aged 53. No cause of death was immediately determined. His manager has stated that heart failure is the probable cause of death.