By Shreya Jha
How George Michael rose to superstardom and how much he craved to stay away from it…a peek into the life and times of this legendary singer.
Wake me up before you go, don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo. As a 90s kid who would not have loved to listen to this popular number released by the British duo Wham!. That was perhaps our first introduction to the legendary George Michael.
Collaboration with wham!
George was born in East Finchley, London and was of British and German ancestry. It was in Bushey Meads School in London that George befriended Andrew Ridgeley who was his partner in the Wham! Thereafter both embarked on a wonderful musical journey. George has spoken about this in one of interview with the Sun columnist Tony Parsons . “It was probably the happiest year I have had. I worked on a building site, I was a DJ in the restaurant, I was a cinema usher.”
His solo career began in 1987 with a duet with Aretha Franklin, I knew you were waiting. It was a Grammy award winning number. It helped him become number 1 in both UK singles chart and the US billboard hot 100. With an incredible emphasis on hope and belief that everything becomes fine in the end, this song is one of my favourites.
While all this was like his dream come true as he had craved for it since he was a child, he slowly started growing restless and less at ease with fame. He had to fight with constant inner turmoil. He said that there is a limit to superstardom and you cannot survive beyond a certain limit.
His personal battles…
Throughout his career, George Michael accomplished a number of feats but from within he remained in complete unrest. He felt the need to go away from “George Michael”. There were periods of depression and unstable relationships which drove him to drinking and despair.
It is true that George tried to derail and sabotage his own career. He himself remained in awe of the fact that he is not able to ruin it despite many difficulties in his personal life.
In the same interview with Tony Parsons, he stated, “I suffer crazy bereavements and public humiliation, but my career seems to right itself like a plastic duck”.
It was in 1997 that George’s mother died of cancer. He suffered a huge mental setback after her death as he was best friends with his mother. It is considered that George could never recover from her death.
George Michael is pictured with his family in this photograph.
George’s sexuality was of a concern for him because he considered himself to be bisexual. He had no problem with him being gay. But he could not be open about this because he feared that his mom might get worried. When he fell in love with a man, he realized what true love is and he started having bouts of depression soon after because he was beginning to realize that he was gay.
His sexual orientation led to his arrest after he was caught in a “lewd act” in Beverly Hills.
He was also found in possession of class C drugs in February 2006.
Despite this tough time he earned a reportedly $97 million from live tours alone. He was even in the list of wealthiest British musicians.
Michael was also deeply involved in charity. He founded the “Band aid” along with other pop stars. He donated the royalties from his album “Last Christmas” to Band Aid. He participated in who wants to be a millionaire? And donated the amount for terminally ill children of Rainbow Trust.
Michael’s autobiography “Bare” was released in 1991. The autobiography is an interesting record of his rise to fame and his insecurities. It also traces his life with Wham! and his comments and observations of different musical stars. He had co-written this book with Tony Parsons.
Death and legacy…
On the day of Christmas, 25th December 2016, George breathed his last. He was found dead by his partner Fadi Fawaz.
George Michael was undoubtedly one of the greatest musicians of all times. Over a long and illustrious career as a musician he produced some amazing songs like “one more try” and “father figure” which continues to be classics till date. “A Different Corner” has been influential as it restores our belief in love and inspires us to pick ourselves back from heartache.
Throughout this eventful journey as a musician, there is side by side emergence of a person, just like us, who was involved in a tussle with his orientation, craved for love, fought constant battle with self and craved for normalcy and a life away from superstardom. RIP George Michael.
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