Interview of Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley by Peter Martin and published in Smash Hits in their September 11th – October 4th, 1985 issue. The article is entitled “Wham!: Randy Andy In Naked Five-In-A-Bed Tug-Of-Love Porno Sex-Change Wife-Swap Spy Riddle.” Read Andrew Ridgeley’s interviews.
It must be weird being Andrew Ridgeley. Nearly every day there’s something horrible about him in the papers – whether it’s about nose jobs, crashed cars, getting caught in bed with girls or simply falling about drunk in nightclubs. They don’t miss a trick. And what must it be like being in a group that’s sold about a zillion records over the past year? It must make life a bit difficult if sometimes all you want to do is go down the pub for a drink. He’s become as much of a household name as Margaret Thatcher (not to mention almost as rich – we’re talking telephone numbers here I’m afraid) and he’s still only 22. So we thought it was about time we gave him the chance to dispel a few Fleet Street ‘shock horror’ stories. And, while we were at it, have a bit of a delve into his private life, finding out what it’s like being Andrew Ridgeley, very very famous person.
I hear The Sun are quite keen to talk to you.
Yes. The editor phoned up our publishers and asked for an interview. They offered me L50,000. I didn’t really want to do it so our publishers rang back and said ‘he won’t do it for L50 or L500,000 – buy him a Rolls Royce Corniche Convertible and he might consider it.’ And they agreed! But eventually they got back and said there was a waiting list of a year for the car so could I possibly choose something else? They suggested buying me a holiday home abroad but I wanted to make it as hard as possible for them, so I asked for a Ferrari Daytona Convertible – they aren’t available in this country until next year – and they agreed again! I couldn’t believe it! Then they sent me a contract saying I couldn’t have total copy approval, which basically gave them
Why do the papers write such horrible things about you?
Good question. I don’t know, really – sometimes I wonder ‘why me?’ I suppose they might be looking for some Rod Stewart rock ‘n’ roll kind of figure, but I don’t lead a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle! I do the things most people do on a Saturday night – the difference is that I get photographed doing it. But the press seem to have an angle for everything: Randy Andy! Arrogant Andrew! Aggressive Andrew! Or the latest one – Dribbling Andrew! I just can’t win. Maybe I should change my name to Trevor.
So how about clearing up a few of your Fleet Street stories? Where do we start?
Well, there was the one in Bristol, after the rugby club thing. That was the one when I was given 9 out of 10 by this girl for sexual performance! In another paper, though, it said I was too drunk to stand up, which was the truth. The girl got L500 for the story! The real story behind that was absolutely hilarious. But it wouldn’t look too good in print – you’d lose the nuance.
What was the story about the girls who posed with a cardboard cut-out of you?
That was just after the nose job one, I think. I don’t know the full story behind it because I was in Australia at the time and the first I heard of it was a headline in the Melbourne Truth saying ‘Wham! Star In Nude Rumpus!’ The story claimed that these two girls were my girlfriends but I’d never even clapped eyes on them before! I couldn’t believe it. And the little details! One of them had a special name for me, something like her ‘little walnut whip’. It was actually very amusing.
Wasn’t there a story about you having another nose job?
No – not yet! But I wouldn’t be surprised if they wrote something like that – you know: ‘Andrew Has Plastic Limbs Shock! or something…
Then there was all the China stuff…
Yeah. That was only three days after the rugby club incident, so on the flight to China all the Fleet Street lot stayed up just waiting for a quote. I promised to talk to them all in turn, but they blew it. All they wanted to know about was the rugby club thing, not China, and I just thought, ‘Sod it, I’m not prepared to talk about that.’ And then there was the press conference: ‘What Do You Think Of Chinese Girls, Andrew?’ I’m just not prepared to answer ignorant, mindless
Did you have a really miserable time in China?
It was a bit of a pain in the arse, to be quite honest. We were so controlled in what we did and what we saw, it was difficult to see what the place was really like. It just seemed really oppressive. And the people seemed really lazy. Chinese people outside China always do really well for themselves and work really hard. But there…there just isn’t any incentive. All the joys of life we take for granted, they’ve simply been taken away from them. And the Chinese authorities, for all this talk of socialism, were the biggest bunch of capitalists and mercenaries we’ve ever come across. They extorted money out of us left, right and centre. In all we spent L1.3 million…out of our own pockets.
What’s going to happen to the film you shot in China?
I think it should be seen, apart from the obvious financial considerations (we would like our money back!). It’s quite a historical piece of film and I just think it’d be a shame if it wasn’t shown. I don’t think it matters that we look all ragged and pale and un-popstar like. It remains a unique event.
Now, what about the stories about you crashing cars every five minutes?
Well, it happened once, actually. I crammed the Renault into the
People were also a bit horrible about your Live Aid “participation”…
Well, we never ever said we’d do it as Wham!. George always said he’d do it with Elton and I had planned to do something with Nick Heyward, but we asked too late and they couldn’t fit us in. Then I was told that I was going to introduce David Bowie, but three minutes before he was due on I was told it couldn’t be done because of a link with America…so I just got pissed. Then about five minutes before they went on, I asked Elton if I could go on with him and do backing vocals. He very graciously said yes, which was really nice of him. I was very grateful for the chance to get out there. Who did I enjoy seeing most? Probably Queen. Freddie Mercury is brilliant – he’s so theatre.
The most recent Fleet Street story was the ‘Pop Star Whose World’s Collapsing’ thing in the Star…
Yeah. Up until
The press also make out that you don’t actually do anything, musically speaking, in Wham! How true is that?
Well, George has the greater talent, so it’s going to overshadow mine whatever. I can sing a bit but not as well as him, so what’s the point? The same with songwriting. It just so happens he’s one of the best songwriters in the world today, along with people like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. He’s certainly the best in Britain. So it’d just be nonsense for me to force my position and say on the next LP I have to write four songs to George’s five. To do that at this stage would mean compromising our very, very high standards, so I’m satisfied to step back and leave all that to George. I don’t really worry about it because the image of the group is so binding as the two of us. We don’t really understand why it’s so appealing but it works.
How do you think George has changed?
He’s become far more serious about things. The nature of the work has dulled his sense of
Do you think Wham! are the biggest group in the world?
Erm…on terms of sales, yeah. But on stature, you can’t say we’re bigger than bands like The Rolling Stones. That’s not to say in five years’ time, in everyone’s perception, we won’t be the biggest band in the world. Time plays a fantastic part in increasing stature. But yes, we definitely have moved into
Have you developed any
I used to have a fetish about clean hands but now I only wash them about every five minutes (laughs). And I always eat one piece of toast cold and one hot – the hot one with jam on it and the cold one plain. I don’t know what you make of that. My sleeping habits tend to be a bit erratic. If I get up at 11am in the morning I can’t get to sleep until about three. So quite frequently I’ll just be twiddling my thumbs well into the night. Other
How much does it take for you to get dead drunk?
Not too many! I usually drink Fosters and I lose count after the fourth! I should get sponsored by them – I’m a walking advert for them.
Are you very, very rich?
We are fairly well-heeled, but I haven’t got the faintest idea how much we’ve got. We don’t lead the kind of lifestyle where you buy jets, we don’t do helicopters, we haven’t got houses yet so we don’t have swimming pools built and have ornate gold fittings everywhere. When you’ve been brought up with not being able to have everything you want, it’s hard to grasp that you can buy a house in the South of France just to spend two weeks a year there. It just
Do you hate wearing
God yeah! I can’t stand it. I only wear it if I’ve had a particularly bad week and I’m suffering the effects, with loads of spots and stuff. It feels horrible and dirty and you want to rub your eyes but you can’t and it gets black everywhere. Urgh!
Are you a nice person or are you a bit horrible?
A bit of both, definitely. I do have malicious tendencies, and can be quite vindictive on occasions. On the other
Have you ever done something you regret?
I am a bit cowardly when it comes to relationships with girls. I tend to run away from a confrontation. Oh yes, and I tried to strangle my brother once in Richmond Park.
Are you going out with anyone?
No. No serious on-going affair. The last one I had was with Shirlie. Really, the only girl I was ever serious about was Shirlie. We went out for two-and-a-half years. It was a good relationship because we were friends before and we were on a kind of equal basis. It will be weird her getting married to Martin Kemp. No, I certainly won’t be best man. She doesn’t want me at the wedding. I’ve been banned. Why? Because when the vicar goes ‘does anybody
Where do you live?
With my parents. Actually, it’s a ridiculous state of affairs for a 22-year-old, especially in my position. But then again it does give me a chance to see them, although thinking about it I haven’t seen my father for days now – I come in at 2 or 3 am and he gets up at eight. So it’s a bit like living in a hotel.
Do you still use public transport at all?
Now here’s a funny one. You’ll like this! I was up in town with Johnny and Dave and I ended up going back to this girl’s place. And in the morning I had to get the tube from South Kensington station and then I had to catch a bus from Stanmore to my house! It was really funny. I looked totally ragged for a start: my hair was like a cat’s bum. Horrible. Anyway, this girl came up to me at the tube station and said ‘Aren’t you Andrew Ridgeley?’ and I said ‘Don’t be stupid! Do you think he’d go on the tube?’ so she buggered off. Then I went to sleep on the tube and got off and got the bus. Luckily it was full of codgers so I went upstairs. It was like a different world…it took forever!
How would you like to end up?
Happy. With my friends. I don’t know. From the start we agreed that Wham! would split up at the top, so to speak. It’s easy to say that when you start out but when you get close to it…well, that’s a different matter. We’ll just have to wait and see. All I can say is that, at the moment, I’m more than happy with my lot.
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- Wham! In China (Part 1), Smash Hits Magazine (1985)
- Wham! You’re On Your Own, George (Sunday Times, 1986)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)