The article “Bad Boys Stick Together” was written by Dave Rimmer for Smash Hits Magazine, May 12-25, 1983 issue.
“Ever since we started the album,” Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! grins insanely, “I’ve had this massive nose picking problem.”
Andrew and George Michael, his other half, have been locked up in the studio for a couple of months now and it’s beginning to get to them. Although they’re pleased with the results so far — “every song on the album is a potential single,” George tells me gleefully — otherwise they’re in “a bit of a trough” at the moment.
“Even my relationship with Yog (as he calls George) is beginning to suffer,” Andrew sighs.
You see, not only are they beavering away in the studio every day, but what spare time they have left is also being eaten away. George is holed up by himself writing all the new songs. Meanwhile Andrew, who has “no inclination to write at all” just now, is busy meeting potential managers. Up to now, Wham! have handled all their business themselves, but it’s been getting too much.
“The fact that there’s only two of us in the band,” remarks Andrew, “is getting to be a real problem.”
Hang about. Only two? Well it seems that despite their appearances on Top Of The Pops and innumerable photo sessions, Dee and Shirley were never really part of the band.
“They were just dancers and backing vocalists,” George shrugs, “but it happened to work brilliantly for ‘Young Guns’.
“And after that people expected to see more of them,” Andrew takes up, “so we use them for ‘Wham Rap’ too. But now we’ve got to get it in perspective.”
They both feel it would be “boring” if they had dance routines with every single, and it won’t be doing it for their new one ‘Bad Boys’. Dee, as revealed last issue, is probably going to be singing with The Style Council. Shirley meanwhile — currently the paramour of one Martin Kemp — has got herself an agent and is looking for acting work.
They’re not sure yet whether the girls will be doing backing vocals on the album, but they will be appearing on tour with the boys in August. A tour? Well, apart from that snippet, they aren’t giving anything away. Andrew assures me that it will be “as different from your normal live show as is humanly possible.” But what’s a “normal live show”? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile the boys have to finish the album. (“It’s a sharp cross between pop and funk. Very diverse.”) Then do some promotion for ‘Bad Boys’. Then do some promotion for the album when it comes out in mid-June. And then …
“Then we’re going on holiday,” says George, brightening up at the thought. “Somewhere really hot, I hope.”
And yes the pair would have known each other since they were 12, will be going away together
I’d been at Bushey Meads school a year already when George joined. We were both 12. I don’t actually remember him coming into the class or anything, but I remember at the time we were playing King of the Wall. As he was the new boy we goaded him into it. I was up there and (laughs) he threw me off! I was a mite peeved about this actually, but I forgave him.
I think I made him sit next to me. I can’t remember why. But it just developed from there. We were friends pretty much immediately
He looked a bit of a wimp in those days, actually, because he had these great big glasses. Huge steel-rimmed glasses and loads of curly hair. He was very, very plump and had one eyebrow, going right across. He plucks the middle of it now, but it used to go across like a pair of seagull wings.
His mother never used to like me. Hated me. The first time I went round to his house was in the summer. I think it was his birthday, and his mother had made this really nice tea — melons and strawberries and things. His mom took an instant dislike to me and his dad wouldn’t talk to me. His house seemed big. Much bigger than mine! (laughs)
I think one of the main reasons we became friends as music. He was far more into it than I was. We used to go through the charts together. Elton John was her favourite then, but we liked Queen too. George had a tape recorder at his house and we used to go over there and thrash things out on his drum kit and an old acoustic guitar. We used to do these 60-minute tapes of like, radio shows, and we’d include adverts, the problem bit and things like that. Very funny.
I wanted to form a band when I was about 14 or 15. He said “no, I’ve got to finish my O-levels.” And when we got to 15 or 16 it was “after my A levels.” Eventually I left the sixth-form to go to college — on November 5, 1979, it was — and I said “look it’s about time we got a band together.” So we did, that night.
I remember that summer we’d been to a party together. It was a great year for parties, that. George and I were soul boys then. Well, he went to the Kings Road and bought these new trousers. They were green. He was really proud of them.
At the party he got absolutely blind drunk. It was the first time he’d ever done it. I had to help him back home: he was staggering all over the place, could hardly walk. Then he fell over on the grass and got his new green trousers dirty. He just went (drunken, tearful voice): No-one said I’d g-got new trousers. No-one noticed and now I’ve got them dirty. Wah! I’m so-o-o-o ugly!” And he was off, bawling his head off for an hour about how no one fancied him and how he’d ruined his green trousers. It was really funny.
Andrew was the real loudmouth in the class. The minute I walked in that first day he started showing off and I got sat next to him. We talked a lot that day.
I was tall for my age then, and there was some kind of game in the break: you know where you throw each other off the wall. Well I threw him off and he hit his head. He was one of the rowdy ones in the class, so that was a major breakthrough for me. Everyone respected me after that … they realized it was a fluke! Andrew said something to the effect that if I hadn’t been new he would have kicked my head in.
Andrew looked pretty much the same then. That’s one of the ways he influenced me: he took a pride in how he looked and I didn’t. I was such a state! Being the type of person he was then, I never understood why he was so keen to make friends with me. But it all turned out for the best.
Years later, when he went to college, he went through that trendy-college-boy phase. You know, how it was more important what he turned up wearing than what he did when he got there. Shirley was his first real steady, but I remember he had this brief flirtation with this absolute dragon who has really trendy. Nicky, she was called.
There was one time he and I both desperately needed Saturday jobs. So went off to Texas Home Care where this other friend of ours, Dave (Mortimer, old friend of George’s and sometime Wham! guitarist.) had a job. Well, Andrew turned up wearing eyeliner, right! For Texas Home Care! It was really out of order. Nicky had put it on him. We spent the whole bus journey telling him he wouldn’t get the job looking like that, and when we got there we rushed him into the toilets really quickly and got it off. Neither of us got the job though …
He told you about the green trousers, did he? Well, I could get him back for that one but it would be too awful. I’m a lot kinder than Andrew is, you see.
There was another party that year, though where he got absolutely out of his head. On gin, I think it was, or maybe vodka. He made a total fool of himself. Being a little drunk myself and not realising how drunk he was, I told him that my mum had decided she really didn’t like him and that she didn’t want him to come round any more. He took it to heart so badly! He kept finding me all over this party — I was trying to get away from him because it was so embarrassing — grabbing my arm really right and going: “Yog, you’re my best mate,” he was really weeping. You mustn’t let your mother split up like this.” And everybody was giving him advice.
I’ve never told him his worst lines, all the things he said to Karen Horsewood’s mum. No, I’m not going to tell you either.
- George Michael: The Story So Far (Smash Hits, 1986)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- Wham! Teen Dreams Come True (NME, 1983)
- Wham! The Art of Parties (No. 1 Magazine, 1983)
- Last Wham! Interview: No. 1 Magazine (1986)