I was sad to learn that English singer-songwriter, producer, and Former Wham! singer, George Michael, 53, had tragically died at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire , on 25 December 2016 as a result of suspected ‘heart failure. He was born 25 June 1963. Michael first found success after forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band’s first album Fantastic reached No. 1 in the UK in 1983 and included the songs Young Guns”, “Wham Rap!” and “Club Tropicana”. Their second album, Make It Big included the songs Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (No. 1 in the UK and US), “Freedom”, “Everything She Wants”, and “Careless Whisper”. Michael 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 charity. He also contributed to David Cassidy’s 1985 hit “The Last Kiss”, and Elton John’s 1985 songs “Nikita” and “Wrap Her Up”. Wham!’ Also made a historic tour of China in April 1985, which had never been done before by a Western Pop Group and was documented by film director Lindsay Anderson and producer Martin Lewis in their film Foreign Skies: Wham! In China. Michael then released two solo singles, “Careless Whisper” (1984) and “A Different Corner” (1986), And Wham! Officially separated during the summer of 1986, after releasing a farewell single, “The Edge of Heaven” and a singles compilation, The Final, plus a sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium.
He began his solo career, in 1987, was a highly successful duet with Aretha Franklin. “I Knew You Were Waiting”, for which Michael and Aretha Franklin won a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance – Duo or Group with Vocal for the song. Michael released his first solo album, Faith in 1987 which contained the controversial song “I Want Your Sex”,which was banned by many radio stations and The second single, “Faith”, was released in 1987 shortly before the album “Faith” and was accompanied by an iconic video. This was followed by the songs “Father Figure”, “One More Try”, and “Monkey”.In 1988, Michael embarked on a world tour, which included “Everything She Wants” and “I’m Your Man”, as well as covers of “Lady Marmalade” or “Play That Funky Music”. In Los Angeles, Michael was joined on stage by Aretha Franklin for “I Knew You Were Waiting”. In 1989, Faith won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 31st Grammy Awards and also received the Video Vanguard Award At the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.
In 1990 Michael released the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, which was more serious in tone and contained the songs “Praying for Time”, which dealt with social ills and injustice, and the acoustic “Waiting for That Day”, this was followed by Freedom! ’90”, “Heal the Pain”, and “Cowboys and Angels”.The video for ‘Freedom ’90” was directed by David Fincher and featured the supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, and Cindy Crawford. The song “Mother’s Pride” also gained significant radio play in the US during the first Persian Gulf War during 1991. Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 also won the award for Best British Album at the 1991 Brit Awards. In 1991 Michael embarked on the “Cover to Cover tour” in Japan, England, the US, and Brazil, where he performed at Rock in Rio, singing his favourite cover songs, including Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, a 1974 song by Elton John which he and Michael had performed together at the Live Aid concert in 1985, and again at London’s Wembley Arena in 1991. Due to legal problems with Sony Michael ended the idea for a follow up album called Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2 and donated three songs to the charity project Red Hot + Dance, for the Red Hot Organization which raised money for AIDS awareness, including “Crazyman Dance” and Too Funky”, whose video features Michael (sporadically) filming supermodels Linda Evangelista, Beverly Peele, Tyra Banks, Estelle Lefébure and Nadja Auermann at a fashion show.
Next George Michael teamed up with Queen for the EP Five Live. Which they performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on 20 April 1992 at London’s Wembley Stadium, with proceeds going to AIDS research. Tracks for the event were performed by George Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield and included “Somebody to Love”, “These Are the Days of Our Lives”,”Killer”, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, “Calling You “’39″and “Somebody to Love”. Michael’s performance of “Somebody to Love” was hailed as “one of the best performances of the tribute concert”.The idea of having George Michael take over as full-time lead singer of Queen was even given serious consideration. In 1994, George Michael appeared at the first MTV Europe Music Awards show, performing his new song, “Jesus to a Child” this was followed by “Fastlove”, an energetic tune about wanting gratification and fulfilment without commitment, this was followed by the album’s title track Older, which was followed by “Star People ’97”. In 1996, Michael was voted Best British Male, at the MTV Europe Music Awards and the Brit Awards and at the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Awards, he was awarded the prestigious title of ‘Songwriter of The Year’ for the third time.
In 1998 George Michael released Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael a Double CD containing 28 songs (29 songs are included on the European and Australian release). The first CD, titled “For the Heart”, predominantly contains Michael’s successful ballads, while the second CD, “For the Feet”, consists mainly of his popular dance tunes. It also contains a large number of compilation tracks and duets that had not previously appeared on his albums, including his duet with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”; “Desafinado”, a duet in Portuguese with Brazilian legendary singer Astrud Gilberto; and the Elton John duet “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on me”. George Michael’s next album was “Outiside”, the titular track was a humorous song about his arrest for soliciting a policeman in a public restroom. He also sang a duet with Mary J.Blige called “As”. In 1999: George Michael released the album Songs from the Last Century, which contained mainly cover-versions including “Roxanne”, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”; and the Frank Sinatra classic “Where or When”. In 2000, Michael sang on “If I Told You That” with Whitney Houston. Michael’s next single was “Freeek!”, this was followed by the controversial single “Shoot the Dog” which was highly critical of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in protest against the 2003 Iraq War, this was followed by a cover version of Don McLean’s The Grave. Which was released as part of the War Child charity album Hope. Michael’s fifth hit album, Patience, was released in 2004 and included the songs “Amazing” and “Flawless” which sampled The Ones’ original dance hit “Flawless”, this was followed by “Round Here” and “John and Elvis Are Dead”.
In 2006 George Michael released his second greatest hits album TWENTY FIVE celebrating the 25th anniversary of his music career. Containing George’s solo songs and Wham! Songs Plus three new songs: “An Easier Affair”; “This Is Not Real Love” (a duet with Mutya Buena, formerly of Sugababes, and a new version of “Heal the Pain” recorded with Paul McCartney and “Understand”. The limited edition three-CD version also contains an additional 14 lesser known tracks, including one from Wham! It was released in North America as a 29-song, two-CD set featuring several new songs (including duets with Paul McCartney and Mary J. Blige and a song from the short-lived TV series Eli Stone) where George Michael portrayed a guardian Angel protecting Johnny Lee Miller’s character. He also toured North America for the first time in 17 years and also played the 2005 Live 8 concert at Hyde Park, London, And was joined by Paul McCartney on stage, harmonising on The Beatles classic “Drive my Car”.The DVD version of Twenty Five contains 40 videos on two discs.
In 2008, he toured North America playing 21 dates in the United States and Canada. This was Michael’s first tour of North America in 17 years. Michael appeared on the 2008 finale show of American Idol singing “Praying for Time”. Michael performed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, as part of the 37th National Day Celebrations and released the song “December Song” on his website for free. In 2010, Michael performed his first show in Perth, Australia since 1988 and was a guest performer at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras After Party. In 2011, Michael covered New Order’s 1987 hit “True Faith” in aid of the charity Comic Relief and released a cover of Stevie Wonder’s 1972 song, “You and I” on 15 April 2011, as an MP3 gift to Prince William and Catherine Middleton on the occasion of their wedding on 29 April 2011. In 2011, George’s European Symphonica Tour was announced. He was also nominated for the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Sadly though he became severely ill with Pneumonia. However two months after leaving hospital, Michael made a surprise appearance at the 2012 Brit Awards at London’s O2 Arena, where he received a standing ovation, and presented Adele the award for Best British Album. In 2012, George Michael released a single “White Light” to celebrate 30 years since the release of Wham Rap. Plus “Song to the Siren”, and two remixes and released and his latest album Symphonica was released in 2014.
As one of the world’s best-selling music artists, Michael has sold more than 100 million records worldwide as of 2010. His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, has on its own sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Michael has garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists list. Michael has won numerous music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations. In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael as the most played artist on British radio between the period of 1984–2004. The documentary A Different Story was released in 2005; it covered his personal life and professional career. In 2006, George Michael embarked on a worldwide 25 Live tour, spanning three individual tours over the course of three years.