Before Britney Spears, there was Debbie Gibson.
Debbie was the American teenage pop princess in the 80s. Her first studio album in 1987, Out of the Blue, was certified 3x platinum in the United States in terms of sales. In the late 80s, she’d gone head to head with George Michael in the charts, like her song “Foolish Beat,” which was up against George’s “One More Try.”
In a 1988 interview, she revealed that is a fan of George Michael, and even sent him a letter asking George to co-produce a song with her. However, he never responded.
Nonetheless, she only has good things to say about George:
“I’ll meet him some day. I think he’s the best pop writer of our time, and (I) would love to work with him.”
When George died, Debbie posted a long blog post about her admiration for George and how he has touched her with his gift of music.
As a 13-year old girl, she was “beyond inspired” when she heard Wham! describing the song ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ as “quite possibly THE catchiest pop song I had EVER heard!” She even won a radio contest to see Wham! in concert and described George as:
His presence was at once cool, magnetic and powerful! His voice soared.
Three years later, Debbie finally met George and described that moment as:
I was already becoming known to the pop audience, but in that moment I was a teenaged girl… one who won tickets to see her idol and was about to meet him. I mean I had his posters on my wall! I was freaking out! He was super gracious and invited me to sit with him backstage in the catering hall to eat dinner before his performance. I could barely function. I was SO nervous, though he was super down to earth – albeit introverted – and, did everything within his power to set me and my family at ease.
She had another opportunity to hang out with George at a party after his concert in Los Angeles:
I had another opportunity to hang out with him after one of his big concerts in LA. His managers Michael and Terry Lippman hosted the after party and I was invited. It was at a house and then something happened to the stereo system. I remember finding myself assisting George in re-wiring the system to try and get the music going again. My friend and longtime dancer/ choreographer Buddy Casimano was there and was recently saying that it was a night he would never forget. I never have and I never will. We were laughing and trying to figure out the wiring but could not get the music going. Turns out the plug had fallen out of the socket. My musical producing hero was human! That and a spot of tea in the kitchen with George made for the best Hollywood party I ever went to!
Debbie then described how George’s death is a massive loss for music.
But at the heart of it all is the MUSIC. I know how devastated we all are that such an incredible talent and person has left us so soon, but there is such beauty in art and in the fact that he bared his soul and dared to be an innovator and dared to take a lot of heat for being who he was both personally and musically. He was SO crafty and wrote SUCH unforgettable hooks that it annoyed a lot of people. I love that he kept on writing those hooks and kept on coming at us with his physical and vocal perfection. “Faith” and the music that followed were his “Told ya so” to the critics who once made fun of him. With the integrity and sophistication of the post Wham! music, the critics had no choice but to shut up and sing his praises. I have always been proud to say I was never on the post Wham! bandwagon. I was a fan from note one. I know many of you reading this share that same experience. For those with eyes and ears that saw and heard beyond the confines of a 3 minute 45 second snapshot of someone’s talents and a pin up picture in Smash Hits, the soul of a timeless genius awaited. We Listened Without Prejudice to the future of music. He was always a step ahead.
RIP George Michael. We will all mourn the loss of your presence here on earth and what you would have done next as we celebrate your incomparable talents and the grooves you cut in our hearts that are forever a part of the soundtrack of our lives.
- Wham! The French Connection (No. 1 Magazine, 1984)
- Gaydar Radio Interview with George Michael (2012)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael’s Participation in the “Motown Returns to Apollo”