Tag Archives: Andrew Ridgeley

2011 ➤ Wham!’s cunning plan for a Christmas No1 as climax to the 80s revival

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❚ TWO REASONS TO CELEBRATE. Mother-of-two Shirlie Kemp has just exhumed a load of fab clothes from her heyday with Pepsi Demacque as the all-jiving all-singing girls in Wham! She has piled a load of glam photos of her stage clothes on to her otherwise sedately titled blog, No Place Like Home. We see her Melissa Caplan sheath from the 1982 Top of the Pops debuts of herself as Shirlie Holliman and of the clubland group’s single Young Guns in the lucky TV turning point [above] that broke the group after their first single Wham Rap! had initially failed to take off.

Shirlie Kemp, fashion, Kahn & Bell,Wham!

Shirlie’s bling leather top for Wham! It bears the Kahniverous label. Photo from shirliekemp.com

Shirlie also shows the cowgirl fronded suede top from American Classics in Endell Street, worn in an earlier incarnation of Young Guns.

Most eye-catching of all are those skimpy, gilded, blingy black leathers by the Brummie design duo Kahn & Bell who had shops in Birmingham and Chelsea. However, after a deep search through Wham’s YouTube videos as the first Western pop group into China, we find no footage of Shirlie’s claim that she wore them onstage there in 1985  — see below for Everything She Wants filmed live in China by British director Lindsay Anderson (which is wrongly dated). By then they had achieved three number-one singles in a row in the US with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper and Everything She Wants, while the Billboard year-ending chart listed George Michael’s Careless Whisper as the US number-one song of 1985.


➢ Click pic for the fizzing Wham Rap! video in a new window

Above — “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes the  group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of their Wham Rap! video by reading The Face cover story, The Making of Club Culture, written by yours truly in the February 1983 issue

❏ The reason why we’ve been catching glimpses of Pepsi & Shirlie around the media is the second reason to celebrate. An explosive 25th anniversary comeback by Wham! themselves takes the shape of a 27-track 2-CD anniversary edition of The Final, their farewell compilation album from 1986, with its minimalist Peter Saville cover design. Embracing all four years’-worth of output, it contains six UK No 1 hits, plus both George Michael solo singles (Careless Whisper and A Different Corner). A deluxe edition includes a DVD of 13 restored videos.

Wham!, The Final, albums, Peter Saville The Final is such a double-whammy of greatest dancefloor hits that its November 28 release is a calculated pitch for the top spot in the Christmas chart. And with Duran’s magnificent comeback year all but spent musically, Wham!’s cunning plan will represent the last major chart assault by the 80s revival that has warmed our cockles for a full two years.

Wham! went out on a high 25 years ago with an eight-hour grand finale of a concert at Wembley Stadium which coincided with their farewell single The Edge of Heaven hitting No 1 in June, 1986. Pepsi says: “A lot of thought went into stopping when we did — we were at our peak, it was such a high and that’s why we can celebrate Wham! The Final now, because we all still have great memories and we’re all still great friends.”

➢ “Maybe George was going through a cowboy phase” — this week’s interview with Pepsi & Shirlie for RealMusic Blog

➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars
from the un-lucrative 80s

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➤ George Michael celebrates his golden years of Faith


❚ NEWLY RELEASED JAN 31, 2011: A remastered version of George Michael’s debut solo album, Faith, from November 1987, is out on Epic/Legacy in the UK and tomorrow the US. There is also a DVD featuring a TV special from 1987, George Michael and Jonathan Ross Have Words, a 25-minute Music Money Love Faith EPK, plus seven remastered promo videos. All available through Michael’s international online retail store.

Faith won a Grammy Award as album of its year, for which Michael wrote and produced every track except one, among them six top-five singles. The first released, I Want Your Sex, went to No 3 in the chart and not unexpectedly caused censorship problems around the world. The daddy of US pop radio hosts, Casey Kasem, refused to say the full song title on air, referring to it only as “the new single from George Michael”. Having gone solo, Michael was after all trying to lay the ghost of his teenybopper image so successully established in Wham! at the age of 20 with his best friend Andrew Ridgeley. Sample their first Top of The Pops appearance as Young Guns, which hit No 3 in 1982, below.

Michael had of course already enjoyed  two UK chart-toppers, Careless Whispers in 1984 and A Different Corner in 1986, and in all has achieved eight No 1 singles in the US, his last in 1991. Before all that stuff happened.

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