A two-time Grammy award-winner, English singer and songwriter George Michael first came to fame as part of the 1980s due group Wham!, known for their chart-topper albums, Fantastic, Make It Big and The Final, as well as the hit singles “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “Freedom” and “I’m Your Man,” among others. Thanks to his triumphant solo singles 1984’s “Careless Whisper” and 1986’s “A Different Corner,” the talented musician eventually made his debut as a solo artist with the 1987 highly successful album Faith, which sold 14 millions copies on release and to date has sold over 20 millions copies internationally. For his bravura work, Michael netted a Grammy award, in addition to numerous other honors. He gained his first Grammy Award in 1987 for his duet with Aretha Franklin in the No. 1 hit single “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).” His later albums include Listen without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (1990), Older (1996), Songs from the Last Century (1999) and Patience (2004). Michael also has released the compilation albums Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael (1998) and Twenty Five (2006).
Michael also has shared a degree of notoriety for his personal life. Initially secretive about his sexual orientation, this gay artist was rumored to have relationships with many high-profile women and backing dancers during his Wham! career. He did not disclose to public until after a 1998 arrest where an undercover cop, Marcelo Rodriguez, captured him for committing a lewd act at a public restroom in Beverly Hills, California. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and fined $810. Recalling, Michael said, “Well, I was followed into the restroom, and then, this cop - well, I didn’t know he was a cop at the time, obviously – he started playing this game. I think it’s called ‘I’ll show you mine, you show me yours, and then when you show me yours, I’m gonna nick you!”
After this incident, Michael announced his relationship with his current partner, the Dallas, Texas-born clothing executive and former cheerleader coach Kenny Goss. The couple have homes in Dallas and London. Previously, Michael had a tender relationship with a male Brazilian dress designer, Anselmo Feleppa, during the early 1990s. Started in 1991, the bond ended when Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage in 1993.
During 2006, a self-admitted to problems with depression, Michael made headlines with a string of incidents that related to drugs. In February, he was arrested for possession of Class C drugs, and later in May, he was found unconscious in his Range Rover in London and became awoke after a part of the civic knocked on his window for five minutes. Still that same month, a police questioned him after he shunted three cars in the street where he lives. In October, Michael was once again found cataleptic in his Mercedes-Benz S-Class car. He was taken to a hospital for checks, and later was warned for possessing cannabis.
Childhood and Family:
In London, England, Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, who would later be famous as George Michael, was born on June 25, 1963, to former dancers. His father, Kyriacos Panayiotou (aka. Jack Panos), a Greek Cypriot, immigrated to England in the 1950s and worked as restaurant assistant manager. His mother, Lesley Angold Harisson, was an English-Jewish who died of cancer on February 17, 1997. George, whose nicknames are Yog, Knobby and TLTI, has two older sisters, Yioda Panayiotou and Melanie Panayiotou, and was educated at Bushey Meads Comprehensive School.
I Knew You Were Waiting
Born and raised in London, George Michael started his musical career in the late 1970s by forming the short-lived band The Executive, along with schoolmates Andrew Ridgeley, Paul Ridgeley, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer (aka David Austin). He, however, did not hit the big time until after forming a duo (again with Andrew Ridgeley) professionally called Wham!, in 1982. Thanks to the No. 1 hit albums Fantastic, Make It Big and The Final, Wham! became the pop group of the 1980s in both the U.K and the U.S. Their singles like “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “I’m Your Man” and “Freedom” were all massive hits that further increased the duo’s popularity. Michael also found time singing on the original Band Aid recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and adding background vocals to Elton John’s hits “Nikita” and “Wrap Her Up,” as well as David Cassidy’s hit “The Last Kiss” (all 1985). Moreover, he released the platinum single “Careless Whisper,” in 1984, which was credited as “George Michael from Wham!,” and the gold hit “A Different Corner” in 1986. The success of Michael’s solo releases finally ended up in the break up of Wham! in the summer of 1986.
Still in 1986, Michael enjoyed massive victory with “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a due with Aretha Franklin that reached No. 1 in both the U.S and U.K., and a year later, took home his first Grammy in the category of Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance. Faith, Michael’s debut solo album, followed in October 1987. A very successful album, it scorched through the charts, landing at No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks to such hits as “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” “Monkey,” “Kissing A Fool” and “Faith,” Faith finally was handed the prominent Diamond certification from RIAA for album sales of 10 million in America, and won a Grammy for Best Album in 1988. The same year, Michael also picked up an Ivor Novello for Songwriter of the Year and International Hit of the Year. Unfortunately, his contribution to the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack, “I Want Your Sex,” gave Michael a 1988 Razzie in the Worst Original Song category.
In 1989, Michael could be seen teaming up with his long-time friend Deon Estus for a back up gig on the song “Heaven Help Me,” which went No. 5 in the U.S. It was in the following year that saw Michael release his sophomore effort, Listen without Prejudice, Vol. 1. A four-platinum album (by BPI), it became a No. 1 hit in England and peaked at No. 2 at America as well as Australia. Aside from the hit “Praying For Time,” his most notable single was the rebellious song “Freedom ’90,” whose video presented such top supermodels as Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. With significant accomplishments, the twentysomething Michael was well on his way to an icon status.
The Grammy winning artist went on to become the center of attention with the 1991 platinum hit “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” a duet with Elton John, which climbed to the top of the charts and earned him a Grammy nomination. In 1993, he again had a victory in his hand when he collaborated with Lisa Stansfield and Queen for the British chart-topping “Five Live.” During that same time, Michael was involved in a court case where he tried to break away from a deal signed with Sony Music Entertainment. He lost the case after years of actions and millions of dollars, but set a standard for other artists taking on huge music companies.
On May 14, 1996, after a six-year away from his recording studio, Michael returned with the third album Older for DreamWorks and Virgin Records. A significant comeback, the album received multi-platinum certification from BPI and IFPI as well as a platinum certification from RIAA. The songs “Jesus To A Child” and “Fast Love” were both big international hits. As a result, the musician was handed a MTV Video Music for International Viewers Choice (for song “Fast Love”), an Ivor Novello for Songwriter of the Year and a Capital Radio for Best Male Singer and Outstanding Contribution To music. Michael also assumed his first live performances in five years.
Ladies & Gentleman: The Best of George Michael, a compilation album, was released in 1998 and went double platinum. This was followed by Songs from the Last Century in the late of 1999, which was considered a flop in the United States after missing the top forty. In March 2004, Michael launched the highly anticipated album Patience after finding a home at Sony. Containing such singles as “Freeek!,” “Shoot the Dog,” “Amazing” and “Flawless (Go to the City,” the album debuted at No. 1 in the UK album charts and No. 2 in Australia. It sold over 2 million copies worldwide.
On November 11, 2006, Michael released his next compilation album called Twenty Five, which directly topped the U.K album charts. It consisted of Michael’s greatest hits with four totally new tracks as a bonus. The first single “An Easier Affair,” debuted on radio on May 2006, was a No.1 hit in the UK dance charts peaked at No. 13 in the UK singles chart. The subsequent new single was “This Is Not Real Love,” a duet with ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena, which reached No. 5 in the UK charts.
- American Music: Favorite Male Vocalist (pop/rock); Favorite Male Artist (soul/R&B) & Favorite Album (soul/R&B Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL): Radio Academy award, 2004
- Capital Radio: Best Male Singer & Outstanding Contribution To Music Award, 1996
- Ivor Novello: Songwriter of the Year, 1996
- MTV Video Music (Europe): International Viewers Choice, Fast Love, 1996
- Razzie: Worst Original Song, “I Want Your Sex,” Beverly Hills Cop II, 1988
- Grammy: Best Album, Faith, 1988
- Ivor Novello: Songwriter of the Year & International Hit of the Year, Faith, 1988
- Grammy: Best Rhythm and Blues Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal, 1987