Category Archives: death

➤ The Kemp quartet: a happy family George Michael helped to create

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Happy family 2012: As Martin Kemp sets off for the Celebrity Big Brother house his wife Shirlie, and children Harleymoon and Roman can’t bear to part with him. (Selfie courtesy of Roman)

➢ On 26 December, Howell Davies reported in The Sun:

“ George Michael planned to have a Boxing Day dinner with his ex-Wham! bandmate Shirlie Holliman, husband Martin Kemp and son Roman before tragic death. Late singer’s health did not stop him from organising a festive get-together with Shirlie and his godson.

Michael was discovered dead at his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day after a long battle against drug and alcohol addition – aged just 53. However, George’s health had not stopped him from organising a festive get-together with Shirlie, 54, one half of pop duo Pepsi and Shirlie, her husband and fellow 80s star Martin Kemp, 55, their daughter Harley, 27, and son Roman, an up-and-coming Capital FM DJ and TV presenter who is also the Faith singer’s godson.

Speaking before George passed away, Roman, 23, said: “We’re going to George’s house on Boxing Day.”

On 26 Dec Roman also tweeted: “To me, you do the Christmas rounds and you see all those people who are big influences on my life. I speak to him quite often. He speaks to my mum every week. He’s just family to me, fame is not a big deal. I know it sounds strange but I’ve known him my whole life. We love you Yog”…

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THE KEMP FAMILY TWEET THEIR OWN TRIBUTES

Martin Kemp, actor, bassist with Spandau Ballet – “My whole family and I are devastated at the loss of our beautiful friend Yog! We will miss him so much! We are all heartbroken!”

Shirlie Kemp, née Shirlie Holliman of Wham! – “Words can not express how sad we all are, only last week I saw him laughing and happy. My heart is broken to lose someone so special.”

Roman Kemp, son of Martin and Shirlie, George’s godson, TV host and radio deejay – “The man who toured the world with my mum; her best friend. / The man who introduced my parents; who forced my mum to call my dad. / The man that took me and Harley around the world; just to see us smile. / The man we all love. / We love you Yog.”

Harleymoon Kemp, daughter of Martin and Shirlie, photographer – “Such a kind, special man who has played such a huge part in our family history and shared with us nothing but love. We are all very sad.”

GEORGE THE MATCHMAKER TELLS ALL:

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
2016, London’s young guns remember George Michael

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s: Thank you, George, says Paul Simper. You left me wanting to dance like you

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s: 2011, Wham!’s cunning plan for a Christmas No1 as climax to the 80s revival

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2016 ➤ Britain stunned by sudden death of George Michael, our biggest pop superstar of the 80s

GEORGE MICHAEL
25 June 1963–25 December 2016

George Michael, Wham!, pop music,

Wham! on The Tube, 1983: George Michael with his partner Andrew Ridgeley on guitar (Photo: ITV)

“ Five albums in 25 years is not exactly prolific
but I think pretty good in terms of quality. . .
The body of work is safe now. If I get hit
by a bus tomorrow, people will remember
what I have done and they’ll still enjoy it ”
– George Michael, 2008

WHAM! SOLD 40 MILLION RECORDS WORLDWIDE in four years after emerging from London’s innovative clubbing scene in 1982. As a solo singer-songwriter George Michael then sold another 100 million records, scored seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits in the US. He ranks among the best-selling British acts of all time, with Billboard magazine ranking him the 40th most successful artist ever. And he won every major world music award, often more than once. Yet his career was sporadic, interrupted by odd breaks, bouts of melancholy, health problems and in recent years a series of run-ins with the law over reckless driving, drugs and sex.

On his music, disc jockey Paul Gambaccini says: “George is likely to be remembered in two different ways: in Britain he’s a pop star and in America he’s a soulboy.” On his hedonism as propaganda, author Mark Simpson in Rolling Stone concludes: “Whatever the long term effects on his happiness, being ‘openly closeted’ for so long seems to have been key to not only making Michael a commercially-successful artist but also a surprisingly subversive one. And perhaps it also lay behind his determination, once out, not to go back into the biggest closet of all: respectability.”

OBITUARY HIGHLIGHTS

➢ Singer who became Britain’s biggest pop star
– Guardian obituary:

George Michael, who has died aged 53, was Britain’s biggest pop star of the 1980s, first with the pop duo Wham! and then as a solo artist. After Wham! made their initial chart breakthrough with the single Young Guns (Go for It!) in 1982, Michael’s songwriting gift brought them giant hits including Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Careless Whisper, and they became leading lights of the 80s boom in British pop music.

From the late 1990s onwards Michael was beset by a string of personal crises and clashes with the law caused by drug use. He had always felt ambivalent about the demands of stardom, and found it difficult to balance his celebrity status with his private life. After years of concealing his homosexuality, he eventually came out in 1998, after being arrested for engaging in a “lewd act” in a public lavatory in Beverly Hills, California. . . / Continued at The Guardian


➢ One of the more enduring musicians of the 80s generation – BBC obituary:
His talents as a singer, songwriter and music producer made George Michael one of the world’s biggest-selling artists. Blessed with good looks and a fine singing voice, his stage presence made him a favourite on the live concert circuit as he matured from teen idol to long-term stardom.

After early success in the duo Wham! he went on to build a solo career that brought him a string of awards and made him a multi-millionaire. But there were times when his battle with drugs and encounters with the police made lurid headlines that threatened to eclipse his musical talents. He admitted that he often went out at night seeking what he called “anonymous and no-strings sex”. . . / Continued at BBC online

“ Outside of Elton John, I’d say he is
probably the greatest philanthopist
in popular music ” – Paul Gambaccini

➢ Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline founder:
For years now George has been the most extraordinarily generous philanthropist, giving money to Childline, but he was determined not to make his generosity public so no-one outside the charity knew how much he gave to the nation’s most vulnerable children. Over the years he gave us millions and we were planning next year, as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations to create, we hoped, a big concert in tribute to him – to his artistry, to his wonderful musicality but also to thank him for the hundreds of thousands of children he helped through supporting Childline.

Kenny Goss , George Michael,

George with Kenny Goss in happier times… they met in 1996 and broke up in 2009 (Photo: Rex)

“ The truth is my love life has been a lot more turbulent than I’ve let on ” – George Michael

➢ Spending time together with love of his life – The Sun:
George Michael had secretly become close again with the love of his life Kenny Goss, just weeks before his death. George had reached out to Kenny following their difficult split. A close friend revealed: “George and Kenny are back spending time together again and it’s an exciting time for those of us who have been so worried over the last few years. The pop superstar split from Texan art dealer Kenny in 2009 after 13 years and his life quickly spiralled, culminating in a lengthy stint in the world’s most expensive rehab clinic in Switzerland last year.

On the opening night of his Symphonica tour in 2011, the singer admitted: “In truth Kenny and I haven’t been together for two and a half years. I love him very much. This man has brought me a lot of joy and pain”. . . / Continued at The Sun online

➢ Jim Fouratt, US 80s club host and activist:
No one seems to remember the incident between George Michael and the president of Sony Music America, Tommy Mottola. I do. George Michael set up a meeting with Mottola, having sold 80 million records worldwide, reaping huge profits for the company. Michael was not happy with how his new album was being marketed. Suddenly, from behind closed doors, the Sony staff could hear Mottola shouting: “Get this faggot out of my office!”

George left. Mattola’s homophobia shocked him. He went back to England. Sued Columbia and spent six years without a release in the US. Finally David Geffen signed him to his new label Dreamworks after settling the lawsuit which gave Dreamworks all rights in the US for a new George Michael album. A hit. George Michael was back on the charts in the US. Then the arrest in a public bathroom in Beverly Hills made headlines across the world. Michael (finally) came out.

Very sad to learn of George’s passing. But he stood up for himself after he was very publicly outed. Yes, he could have come out earlier – but Mottola’s action gives one insight into why he did not.

➢ Owen Jones, Guardian writer:
The popstar’s openness about his sex life, and his campaigning for LGBT rights, offered a liferaft to many – particularly at a time when anti-gay sentiment was rife. As a closeted teenager back in 1998, it is impossible not to recall the courage and defiance of George Michael. A talented and much adored musician, yes. But also a gay man, and a gay icon, who made the lives of so many LGBT people that little bit easier.

➢ 20 essential songs: The best of the pop icon George Michael’s hits – at Rolling Stone:
George Michael swiftly transitioned from teenage pretty boy to outspoken pop force. “It says something for the power of the music,” he told Rolling Stone after the release of his smash 1987 solo debut, Faith, “that I’ve managed to change the perception of what I do to the degree that I have in this short a time. Because it’s something that a lot of people thought wasn’t possible. . . / Continued online

CELEBRITY TRIBUTES

Andrew Ridgeley, schoolfriend, partner in Wham! – “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. He had a voice that would transport you, he was the finest singer/songwriter of his generation & has left the best of himself for us. RIP.”

Michael Lippman, Michael’s manager, told Billboard that he died of heart failure and was found “in bed, lying peacefully”. . . “I’m devastated.”

Spandau Ballet – “We are incredibly sad at the passing of our dear friend George Michael. A brilliant artist and great songwriter.”

Simply Red – “It’s hard to take in. One of our most talented singer- songwriters has left us. Such sad, tragic news.”

Mark Ronson – “George Michael was one of the true British soul greats. A lot of us owe him an unpayable debt.”

Paul McCartney – “George Michael’s sweet soul music will live on even after his sudden death. Having worked with him on a number of occasions, his great talent always shone through and his self-deprecating sense of humour made the experience even more pleasurable.”

Tony Visconti, producer – “I lived through early grief of my pop idols dying on me. Nothing, however, prepared me for this year. Of course the biggest blow was when David Bowie passed. He was my colleague, but more importantly a friend for 48 years. I’m just barely in the acceptance stage with that; my philosophical attitude, ‘this just happens’, helped a lot. But today, with the death of George Michael, this is a little too close to home. Wham made their first album in my Good Earth studios with Chris Porter engineering and he eventually producing George Michael. As my office was in the studio I would pop my head in and say hello. This has happened too much this year. As of today it feels like a damn conspiracy.”


Chaka Khan – “Performed a few shows with George Michael when he was with Wham in the 80s. Here’s a clip of him covering Ain’t Nobody from 1991.”

Sir Elton John – “I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist.”

THE TERRY WOGAN SHOW, 1984

TALKING ABOUT A FILM OF HIS LIFE, 2005

‘MY OWN SELF-DESTRUCTIVE STREAK’, 2007

➢ 2016, London’s young guns remember George Michael

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2010, Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s

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2016 ➤ Prince Rogers Nelson: his raunchy earliest videos and his last

Prince Rogers Nelson
(7 June 1958 – 21 April 2016)

1979: I WANNA BE YOUR LOVER (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

1980: MIDNIGHT SPECIAL IN ZEBRA UNDERWEAR

I Wanna Be Your Lover ,Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad, Prince Rogers Nelson , TV, Midnight Special, pop music,

➢ Above: For his first TV performance in January 1980 Prince sports zebra-print underwear, black leggings, stack-heeled boots, and long hair giving us the first two tracks from Prince the album, I Wanna Be Your Lover and Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad. On NBC’s The Midnight Special host Wolfman Jack says: “There’s nothing our next guest can’t do. He arranged, produced, composed, and performed his last album entirely by himself.”

1991: GETT OFF FOR MTV

Prince, Gett Off , New Power Generation, funk, MTV Video Awards,

Prince’s 1991 MTV Video Awards performance of Gett Off with The New Power Generation might be the sexiest thing ever aired on TV. Click on pic to run video in new window

2014: BREAKFAST CAN WAIT (OFFICIAL, almost as sexy)

➢ WATCH 7 OF PRINCE’S BEST TV PERFORMANCES

Beyonce, Grammys 2004, Prince Rogers Nelson , TV, Purple Rain

Grammy Awards 2004, on video: Another killer rendition of Purple Rain with Beyoncé before duetting in Baby I’m a Star

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince RIP: ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’
of the 1980s

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2016 ➤ Van Jones reveals Prince’s humanitarian activities to CNN

➢ American political activist and friend reveals extent of Prince’s philanthropy on CNN – reported at Bring Me The News:

Stories about the Purple One’s generosity are starting to emerge in the days following his death, with his close friend Van Jones lifting the curtain on his humanitarian endeavours in an interview with CNN (which you can watch above).

Prince, YesWeCode

July 2014: Prince at the #YesWeCode Launch, at Essence Music Festival

As a practising Jehovah’s Witness, Jones says, Prince was “not allowed to speak publicly about any of his good acts” but Jones felt that now was the time people knew more about his charitable giving over the years.

Chief among the projects he helped fund is #YesWeCode, an initiative led by Jones aiming to teach 100,000 low-income, urban youths learn how to code to help them get jobs in the tech world. Jones says 15 major technology companies now work with “kids in the hood” to help them break into Silicon Valley through the project.

According to the L.A. Times, Jones said the inspiration for the idea came following the Trayvon Martin verdict, with Prince saying to Jones: “Every time people see a young black man wearing a hoodie, they think, he’s a thug. But if they see a young white guy wearing a hoodie they think, oh that might be Mark Zuckerberg. That might be a dot-com billionaire” . . . / Continued online

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’ of the 1980s

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince’s raunchy earliest videos and his last

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1958–2016 ➤ Prince RIP: ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’ of the 1980s

Prince Rogers Nelson , Detroit, Lyceum London,

1980: How Prince unveiled himself in Detroit months before his UK debut. His Dirty Mind album stirs controversy, while Uptown makes it to No 5 on the US R&B chart. (Photograph by Leni Sinclair)

➢ Prince was to the pop music of the 1980s what David Bowie had been to that of the previous decade, its sole authentic genius – The Telegraph

Prince Rogers Nelson , tributes, Daily News,sexuality, pop music ➢ Prince, the songwriter, singer, producer, one-man studio band and consummate showman, died at his home, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minn. He was 57 – NYT

➢ The unique and endlessly creative artist Prince has died, leaving behind him a gaping hole in musical genres as diverse as R&B, rock, funk and pop – The Guardian

➢ Prince, one criticism runs, was too talented. Ideas flowed through him like rain passing through a leaky roof – The Economist

Prince Rogers Nelson , Spike Lee, pop music, death, tribute

Officialspikelee at Instagram: “I Miss My Brother. Prince Was A Funny Cat. Great Sense Of Humor.”

➢ So many people we interviewed told us hilarious stories about Prince. He was the video artist with little use for the video industry. Some loved him; others had quite the opposite reaction – Billboard

THE BEST EVER SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW

➢ Prince’s life in pictures – The Telegraph

➢ Prince in his own words: “You have to live a life to understand it” – Famed for his gnomic utterances, but when he opened up, his remarks could be startlingly candid – The Guardian

Prince Rogers Nelson , Chaka Khan, pop music, death, tribute

PERSONAL TRIBUTES

Nile Rodgers: “RIP our dearly beloved Prince. Tears and love on our tour bus. I’ll never forget my brother. We’ve had good times.”

Quincy Jones: “RIP to prince… a true artist in every sense of the word. Gone way too soon.”

Mick Jagger: “Prince was a revolutionary artist, a great musician, composer, a wonderful lyricist, a startling guitar player… but most importantly, authentic in every way. Prince’s talent was limitless. He was one of the most unique and exciting artists of the last 30 years.”

Lenny Kravitz: “My musical brother… My friend… The one who showed me the possibilities within myself, changed everything, and kept his integrity until the end, is gone. I am heartbroken.”

Frank Ocean: “He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee-high heeled boots, epic. He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity.”

Barack Obama, who was flying from Saudi Arabia to London on Air Force One when the news broke, said he was mourning along with millions of fans. “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all.”

Shaun Keaveny, BBC Radio 6 Music, deejay: “He’s a virtual Beethoven for the popular song.”

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHAPERS OF THE 80S

I met Prince in 1981 on his first UK trip when he was booked to play the Lyceum and faced a half-empty venue. In the Embassy club six days before, I spotted him standing quietly at the end of the bar on his own, while nobody else seemed to know who he was – and the occasion was after all Steve Strange’s 22nd birthday party, heaving with Blitz Kids. Prince was painfully shy yet intensely sexy and very receptive when I approached, clearly flattered that somebody in the place had put a name to the face (familiar from his Dirty Mind antics over the previous year). We chatted for a while, enthused about James Brown, obviously, but amazingly he also said he had laughed a lot at the new spoof version of Is That All There Is? by Cristina on the Ze label. Despite which, I can’t claim to have got a single quote from the quiet man of pop that was worth publishing! – Yrs Truly

Prince Rogers Nelson , Lovesexy, album, pop music

Prince Rogers Nelson: uncovered on the cover of his 1988 Lovesexy album

➢ Black Music Legends of the 1980s – How Prince revolutionised the perception of black music in the 1980s by embarking on an amazing journey of musical self-discovery (terrific documentary on BBC iPlayer till 21 May 2016)

Chuck D of Public Enemy: “He is walking music. He IS music.”

Alan Leeds, Paisley Park label president, speaking in 2011: “He has outpaced Madonna, he has outpaced Janet Jackson. There really isn’t another phenomenon on the planet like Prince these days.”

prince rogers nelson, passport

Prince: the latest passport picture, February 2016

➢ Prince’s lost Rolling Stone interview: “I don’t think about gone” – Ruminating on sex, music and death in a previously unpublished Q&A from 2014. . . “I can take you out there and hit this guitar for you, and then what you’ll hear is sex. You will hear something where you’d run out of adjectives like you do when you meet the finest woman.”

“I have a couple Revolution albums in the vault and two Time albums, one Vanity 6 album – and tons of stuff recorded in different periods.”

“I don’t think about gone. I just think about in the future when I don’t want to speak in real time.”

2 JUNE UPDATE: “Prince died of accidental overdose” expert says

➢ Accidental overdose – CNN: “Toxicology tests for Prince concluded that the entertainer died from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl, according to a report on his death by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. Fentanyl, prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, can be made illicitly and is blamed for a spike in overdose deaths in the United States. It is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. . .” / Contd at CNN

➢ Music legend Prince was killed by an overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl – NBC News: “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine that is used for severe pain such as advanced cancer, according the Centers for Disease Control. Although it can be obtained by prescription, many overdoses are linked to illegally made versions of the drug, officials say. . . ” / Contd at NBC News

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2014, Prince live in London puts the afro back in fashion!

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince’s raunchy earliest videos and his last

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