Dutch singer Richenel, who sadly passed away on March 13, belonged to a rarefied group of singers who recorded songs written for them by George Michael. Michael, who described himself as the “least prolific writer of all” rarely composed songs for other singers. But in 1989, he wrote the song “Are You Just Using Me” for Richenel under the pen name R. Phillips.
The song was recorded for Richenel’s album “Deep as Blue” released on April 21, 1989. It is a soulful ballad that exudes Michael’s vocal melody. David Austin produced the song and even provided backing vocals to Richenel (Austin also produced another single of Richenel called “Turn My Page”).
How Richenel Recorded a George Michael Song
In the early 1980s, George Michael and Richenel used to hang out at London’s legendary and world-famous HEAVEN Club, accompanied by their other friends, Marc Almond, Boy George, Nik Kershaw, and Jimmy Sommerville.
While Richenel was working on his second album Deep As Blue, his manager suggested that it be produced by David Austin, a local producer, and George Michael’s best friend. As one thing led to the other, Michael (under the name of R. Phillips) ended up writing a song for his friend Richenel, the song “Are You Just Using Me”. Austin, in addition to producing, also did vocal backing on the chorus.
Brazilian reporter Wagner Ribeiro, who previously interviewed Richenel, recalled his conversation with the Dutch singer as to why Michael had to use a pseudonym:
He told me that George used the pseudonym so that there would be no unpleasant speculations from the press about his sexuality, since Richenel assumed an androgynous look, and as we know, the press exploits these particularities “very well”.
Ribeiro, who is a huge George Michael fan himself (read his heartfelt tribute to George after his passing), did a short interview with Richenel “about his friendship with Yog. I hope to add good information to George Michael fans 🙂”
Ribeiro: The music “Are You Just Using Me”, tell me, how did this happen, George Michael write to you this song, were friends? Did he admire your work or was it an order? The song has the mood and feel of GM, and your voice is simply fascinating in this song, very inspired and emotional. Could you talk more about her?
Richenel: Hi Wagner, the song is written by George Michael for me, and it’s his cousin David who did the backing vox + production. During the early 80’s we all used to go clubbing London’s HEAVEN Club. All is Boy George, Marc Almond, George Michael, Nick Kershaw, Jimmy Sommerville and myself. So we knew each other from seeing and just before big fame knocked our doors.
Then when I was busy recording my 2nd album Deep As Blue, my A&R manager suggested to have it produced by David Austin, George’s cousin, and from one thing came another, so he wrote this song under his pseudonym R. Phillips – so there would be no nasty press speculations on both our sexualities.
Because of my time in London I also recorded a Stevie Wonder cover on my (official) debut album together with Sarah Jane Morris (the Communards & Jimmy Somerville).
Unfortunately, there is not even a photographic record of this time.
“Are You Just Using Me”
“Are You Just Using Me” was in the top 100 charts in the Netherlands for nine weeks peaking at #45 and peaked at #36 in Belgium.
The song was also released in different formats, including a mini CD and 12″ single in Netherlands, and as 7″ single in Europe.
Listen to the Richenel’s performance of the song “Are You Just Using Me”
Here’s the extended version of the song:
The song “Are You Just Using Me” was also included in Boogie Box High’s album “Outrageous” featuring T. Roy Morris released in 1989.
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