“I’m never gonna dance again guilty feet have got no rhythm though it’s easy to pretend I know your not a fool.” — WHAM! in “Careless Whisper.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW JERSEY — In the past Christmases, George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) “gave us his heart.”
We didn’t give it away.
But last Christmas 2016, the reclusive British pop icon who once pricked his fans to “wake him up before you go-go”, decided to “go-go” for good without waking us up.
He bade farewell on Christmas Day, December 25.
And the world of pop music wasn’t saved from tears.
At 53, the Charismatic composer-singer, who serenaded the world as member of the dynamic duo Wham! with the spine-tingling “Careless Whisper” in 1984, succumbed to heart attack in Goring-on-Thames, United Kingdom, doctors said.
In our high school days, Wham! blossomed into a full-scale phenomenon with their 1983 debut album Fantastic, which charged to the top of the charts.
That’s my first date with Wham! However, when I first saw Wham’s! frame, I thought it was Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael’s best friend and partner, who was the lead vocalist.
At that time, another George–Boy George of the Culture Club–was giving Michael and Wham! a run for their money in Great Britain’s new pop boom.
According to the British newspaper, theguardian, Wham’s! second album, Make It Big (1984), turned them into a global success story, spinning off singles such as Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper, Freedom and Everything She Wants.
In 1985, Wham! achieved a massive publicity coup by becoming the first western pop group to visit the People’s Republic of China. The visit was filmed by the director Lindsay Anderson as Foreign Skies: Wham! In China (1986).
Like in the cases of other pop stars who died at the height of their popularity, George Michael’s death was also shrouded with controversy.
There were reports that several weeks before his death, George, who had open relationships with males, became reclusive and refused to display himself in public “because he did not like his new looks.”
Michael was also reportedly engaged in drug offense and was arrested and fined in 2010 drugs offences after admitting driving under the influence of drugs, having crashed his Range Rover into a Snappy Snaps photo store in Hampstead.
His obituary stated that “in June 2012 Michael released the single White Light to mark the 30th anniversary of Wham Rap!. In March 2014 he released Symphonica, which became his seventh solo album to top the UK chart. This month, it was announced that he was working on a new album with producer and songwriter Naughty Boy. Also in the pipeline was a film, provisionally titled Freedom: George Michael, due to accompany the reissue of his 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1. With Michael as narrator, the film would feature stars including Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Mary J Blige as well as the supermodels who had appeared in his Freedom! ’90 video.”
The obituary added: “His mother, Lesley, died in 1997. He is survived by his father and his two sisters, Melanie and Yioda. George Michael (Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou), singer and songwriter, born 25 June 1963; died 25 December 2016.”