Tag Archives: George Michael

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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➤ Toasting the Blitz Kid dynamos who have driven the success of Shapers of the 80s

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Blitz Kids as stars of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980: from the left, Steve Strange, Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise and Judi Frankland. When they got back to London after filming, they all went clubbing. Video © 1983 Jones Music / EMI Records Ltd

◼ SHAPERS OF THE 80S TELLS THE DEFINITIVE STORY of a subcultural revolution in British music and style 30 years ago. Its detonator was a youthful blast of impossible trendiness and its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This site gathers together the eye-witness journalism and photography of one observer who knew a good time when he saw one and was published in the coolest titles of the day.

Now in its fifth year, this site has attracted a total of 722,500 views since its launch, according to year-ending WordPress stats. The figures also identify the 20 most widely read items out of more than 600 posted here. Most of these pieces were first published back in the day, but seven of the Top 20 items reflect the continuing interest expressed through the recent 80s revival. In many ways, London is again displaying all the symptoms of being the world’s most swinging city, as it was in the 60s and the 80s, when there were a galaxy of reasons to hit the town every single night of the week.

THE 20 MOST VIEWED POSTS AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S

1  ➢ The Blitz Kids — 50 crucial nightclubbers who
set the style for a decade

2  ➢ The key men in Boy George’s life, but why has TV changed some of the names? (2010)

3  ➢ Golden rules for keeping Studio 54
ahead of the pack (1981)

4  ➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – birth of the once-weekly party night (1983)

The Face, magazine, May 1980, launch, Jerry Dammers, David Bowie, The Cult With No Name, New Romantics

The difference seven months made: In May 1980 The Face launched with Jerry Dammers of the Specials on its cover. By November the new direction was Bowie plus a feature on The Cult With No Name, as the New Romantics were first known

5  ➢ The Face and other power brokers of the fourth estate — a new media language for a new decade (1980)

6  ➢ First Blitz invasion of the US — Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)

Blitz club, London 1979, Wilf, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth

Left, real Blitz Kids – right, the TV version… George’s boyfriend Wilf and fashion student Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

7  ➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV drama about Boy George’s teen years, Worried About the Boy

8  ➢ Hockney’s new vision of the world — Britain’s favourite artist reveals his insights into cubism (1983)

9  ➢ Paradise Point: live leaders of a new Brit pop blitz (2010)

i-D 1980

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style of photography is established with, at left, one then unknown New Romantic and, right, one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

10  ➢ ‘i-D counts more than fashion’ — launch of the
street-style bible in 1980

11  ➢ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

12  ➢ Who’s who in the New London Weekend — key clubs that set the capital swinging (1983)

13  ➢ Aside from the freaks, George, who else came to your 50th birthday party? (2011)

© Shapersofthe80s

Londres est arrivée au Palace, 1982: classic set, nouveaux styles. Pictures © by Shapersofthe80s

14  ➢ Steve Strange takes fashion to the French — six British designers rock Le Palace in Paris (1982)

15  ➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)

16  ➢ Who are the New Romantics? — A mainstream deejay’s guide published by Disco International (1981)

Spandau Ballet, 1980

Houseband of the Blitz club: at the London megaclub Heaven Spandau Ballet play their tenth live date on 29 Dec 1980. From left, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, plus John Keeble on drums. © Shapersofthe80s

17  ➢ They said it — landmark quotes about the decade of change by the people who made it happen

18  ➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s (2010)

19  ➢ Comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ — an enduring star who made 2010 her own

20 ➢ Robbie Vincent: 35 years as master of hot cuts and getting our “rhythm buds” going (2011)

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1983 ➤ A True romance aboard Spandau’s triumphal Thames riverboat

Spandau Ballet,1983, tour, Gary Kemp

Spandau over Bournemouth, 1 April 1983: Gary Kemp teases the screamers at the Good Friday show in the Pavilion Theatre. © Shapersofthe80s

❚ YES IT’S 30 YEARS SINCE Spandau Ballet scored their only No 1 chart hit single with True, coinciding with their epic “Spandau Over Britain Tour”. By May 3, True the album reached No 1, while the single remained at No 1 as well. The band’s official website is celebrating with a month of recollections from 1983 and asking UK fans to offer their own memories. Naturally Shapersofthe80s was there on the waterfront and has a few inside stories of its own.

The month-long tour ended in triumph at London’s Royal Festival Hall 30 years ago today, on Friday April 29, because True hit the top spot in the UK singles chart and the night before Spandau topped the bill on Top of the Pops – only two weeks after its release. After the London gig there followed a right old knees-up for friends and family aboard a Thames riverboat. As it cast off Shapersofthe80s was onboard and snapped a True romance as Steve “Spiny” Norman took to the dance floor with bass-player Martin Kemp, while Steve’s mum Sheila tried to muscle in. Here are our snaps, never seen before.

CLICK ANY PIC TO LAUNCH CAROUSEL:

The band’s third album True, produced by Tony Swain and Steve Jolley, had preceded the tour and was to yield several chart hits across the world, Gold among them. The tour moved on to Europe in the summer and to North America in the autumn, when Shapersofthe80s will have some wild eye-witness scenes to report – laters…

➢ May 1 update: all five members of Spandau Ballet have agreed to an individual ‘TRUE’ Twitter Q&A session with fans, according to the official Spandau website – Q&A sessions start at 8pm (BST) on the official Spandau Twitter account, not their personal accounts, as follows: Gary May 3, Martin May 6, John May 7, Steve May 9, Tony tbc.

➢ 30th anniversary interview with Gary Kemp
at UK Official Charts website

The Observer OMM Oct 4, 2009

The Observer OMM Oct 4, 2009

HOW IT ALL BEGAN FOR
THE ANGEL BOYS

➢ Read the story of Spandau Ballet,
the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics
in my feature at The Observer

➢ Photographer Neil Matthews, another friend of Spandau from their earliest days, has been celebrating with an exhibition of his popstar photos titled My 80s Through the Lens, at The Great British Restaurant, 14 North Audley Street, London W1K 6WE. All images can be viewed online and are for sale in limited editions printed on smart archival paper. As well as Spandau, his subjects include Bananarama, Blue Rondo, Bauhaus, Haysi Fantayzee, Malcolm McLaren, The Jam, Nick Heyward, Bow Wow Wow and more.

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2012 ➤ Welcome JLS to the pop millionaires club

Rich List, JLS, Marvin Humes, JB Gill, Oritsé Williams, Aston Merrygold

£5m apiece: JLS’s Marvin Humes, JB Gill, Oritsé Williams, Aston Merrygold

❚ NO REALLY POPTASTIC SURPRISES in the annual Sunday Times Rich List for the UK and Ireland, published today. Adele, inevitably, tops the Richest Young Musicians after the past year’s runaway success that more than tripled her estimated wealth from £6m to £20m ($33m). There are only five newcomers each worth £5m ($8m) in the top 20 millionaires aged 30 and under. One is Jessie J, 24, the former Brit School student who has sold close to 1m copies of her album Who You Are and is currently mentoring on the television show The Voice UK. The others are all four members of JLS (short for Jack the Lad Swing), the UK’s coolest boy band, who came to fame on The X Factor and released their third album, Jukebox, last November.

♫ View video: JLS performing their January release,
Do You Feel What I Feel?

The under-30s millionaire list is nowhere in the same stratosphere as the main Sunday Times Music Millionaires Top 50. These are the grandees from the headier days of British rock who have had a lifetime in which to amass royalties — ex-Beatles, Stones and assorted moguls. Among pop performers, the 70s are still represented by David Bowie (today valued at £100m, $163m); the Swinging 80s only by George Michael (up this year to £100m); the 90s by Robbie Williams (£100m), as a new entry the joint husband-and-wife wealth of Coldplay’s Chris Martin and actress Gwyneth Paltrow (£72m), plus Take That’s Gary Barlow (£50m).

+++
The same trio as last year head the Young Entertainers Rich List, led by Daniel Radcliffe, aged 22, who starred in eight Harry Potter films and has increased his wealth by £6m in a year to £54m ($88m), helped by the success of his latest movie, the gothic thriller The Woman in Black. At No 2, Twilight star Robert Pattinson has added £8m in a year to his fortune and is now worth £40m. Keira Knightley is the third top-earning movie star, still worth £30m.

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

➢ 2011, Soprano Jenkins tops pop’s young Rich List

Daniel Ek, Spotify ,Rich List, social media

Daniel Ek: Swedish entrepreneur who launched Spotify’s streaming service in 2008

➢ Britain’s top ten richest people in the world of social media are worth a combined £15.8bn — The Daily Telegraph reports that, sprinting fast behind the billionaires, is the 29-year-old co-founder of Spotify, the legal online music streaming service. London-based Arsenal supporter Daniel Ek is the highest new entry on the Music Millionaires Rich List as well as No 8 in the…

top ten Social Media Millionaires

1 Alisher Usmanov, Facebook: £12.3bn
2 Michael Moritz, LinkedIn: £1.08bn
3 Niklas Zennstrom, Skype: £600m
4 U2 (Bono), Facebook, Yelp: £514m
5 Andrey Andreev, Badoo: £500m
6 Michael and Xochi Birch, Bebo, TweetDeck: £270m
7 Vikrant Bhargava, SocialGO: £230m
8 Daniel Ek, Spotify: £190m
9 Tihan Presbie, Miniclip: £155m
10 Joanna Shields, Bebo, Facebook: £50m

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➤ OMG! George and Fadi trigger what the Telegraph calls a “marmalade-dropper” over breakfast

George Michael,Fadi Fawaz,holidays,Twitter
❚ THIS TIME THE DAILY MAIL got there first, shock, outrage! Pop singer George Michael’s boyfriend Fadi Fawaz posted a picture yesterday via Twitter of the pair cuddled up on a sunshine holiday, with the caption, “Isn’t he the cutest?” Minutes later George responded with a second snap saying “Yes he is :)”

The star then tweeted to say: “Oh and by the way everyone, if u are wondering why Fadi is the one sending you the pics lately, it’s cos I jumped in the decking pool with my iPhone in my shorts pocket yesterday.”

If we scroll further back in the boyz’ Twitter accounts we’d have seen several holiday snaps in recent days. With one pin-up of his favourite chunk of beefcake, who is a leading hair and beauty stylist in London, 48-year-old George tweeted the comment: “Sun, sand, and a bit of this doesn’t hurt either.” Earlier, George posts another pic of the carefree couple, saying: “This is an oldie from Venice, we clearly have no idea the paps were there, I look way too happy.”

George Michael,Fadi Fawaz,holidays,Twitter

George replies with a second snap: hunky boyfie to the fore

The boyz are yachting and jet-skiing at an undisclosed location George reveals is in the “southern hemisphere” and is a “bit classier than Club Trop, and the drinks are far from free”. It is, he adds, his first real holiday in many years, and “I might remind the media that my ‘new man’ is in fact the same man they photographed me with at Nobu… in 2008!”

The Mail report reminds us that the 80s superstar is continuing his recovery after narrowly escaping death only weeks ago during a serious bout of pneumonia. George’s tweets confirm this: “Even my tracheotomy scar is healing nicely in the sun — was looking a bit Bride of Chucky for a while.”

He also announced: “People, I’m excited… just finishing a ballad that I think is going to make you think my eighties self has been re-born, which I suppose it has in a way.” As for resuming the tour that was cancelled because of his illness, he told one fan: “Realistically I can’t see my vocal cords being being ready till the summer.”

➢ Read the full Daily Mail report plus comments

Dear Sir! Daily Mail readers are, as we know, unshockable. Comments beneath the romantic pictures posted online include:
❏ “Go get a room gm. Spare us please” — the Lady, who prefers dogs to SOME people
❏ “Old man with a toyboy. YUK!!” — Alan, Sussex
❏ “George has finally found the love of his life… A guy who looks like himself.” — Realist, Coventry
❏ “I have always thought that George Michael & Sir Elton John would have made a lovely, great couple. Both excellent musicians, in their own niche. Both lovers of children & animals. Good luck to them all.” — Pamela Hutton, Sydney, Australia.

AND NOW FOR SOME MUSIC: GEORGE’S LATEST SINGLE HE WAS PROUDLY TWEETING ABOUT

… AND BOYFIE FADI’S FAV SONG (BY FAMED
LEBANESE LEGEND)


❏ Fadi tweets “My fav song of Fairouz” — Music facts: Nouhad Wadi Haddad, also known as Fairuz/Fairouz which means “Turquoise”, is a 76-year-old Lebanese artist widely considered to be the most famous living singer in the Arab world.

LET’S NOT FORGET GEORGE’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE


❏ Dec 23: “This has been the worst month of my life.” George Michael gives an emotional and breathless press conference admitting his 
life has been hanging in the balance as he battled pneumonia in Austria. Unbelievable American newspaper headline immediately before his recovery: Radicals Condemned for Praying for George Michael to Die

❏ Dec 13: A couple of weeks earlier George had been bearing up by compiling a playlist of his all-time favourite Christmas songs, top of which was his own December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas), “Written with my best friend, David Austin”.

THAT VOICE, ONLY ONE MONTH BEFORE THAT


❏ Life goes on…

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