The article “Michael says that his solo music may shock” was written by Arthur Herman of United Press International and published by the Chicago Tribune on November 29, 1986.
George Michael walked away from one of the biggest pop groups of the ’80s. Now he predicts his solo music will be “a fair shock to most people.”
Michael, who calls himself “a songwriter who can sing his own songs and do them justice,” was the creative force behind Wham!, his partnership with his best friend from high school. They sold some 16 million singles and 22 million albums over the past four years and made the first big pop tour of China.
Michael became a teen heart-throb, a millionaire and was declared “gorgeous” by Princess Diana.
His Wham! song “Wake Me Up Before You Go-go” reached No. 1 “even in some countries I’ve never even heard of,” he said in a rare interview.
Now the 23-year-old son of a Greek Cypriot restaurateur and an English mother has embarked on a solo career.
“Some of my new music is more abrasive and sexual, much more real,” the stubble-faced star said at an occasional hangout, the exclusive Blake’s Hotel on the edge of London’s Chelsea district.
Michael and his partner Andrew Ridgeley gave their farewell concert in June before a sell-out audience of 80,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium. Their last album was still on the American, West German and British charts in October.
“Both of us had basically had enough,” Michael said. “Media attention to celebrities here in Britain has become so dire and invasive that you don’t have a moment’s peace. …
“But the main reason was that we’d done everything we wanted to do. We thought it was far better to break while we were on top.”
His first post-Wham! project was to record a duet with Aretha Franklin, the Detroit-based queen of American soul, expected to be released as a single in January. And Michael is now beginning to work on his first solo album, even though actual recording will not start until the new year. He expects the album to be released in autumn, 1987.
“The Aretha song is a slowish dance groove,” he explained. “We just agreed on the final mix and will be shooting the video soon. It ought to be a No. 1 in the States.
The burly star has given few interviews in the last year. But he speaks freely and answers rapidly in a style that sometimes sounds pre-programmed, as if he had been rehearsing.
Wham!, he explains, was built on a careless, upbeat image of fair-haired, suntanned boys singing about love without pain. Michael says they were able “to get away with it” because of the quality of some of the Wham! songs. “The test is now to come across much more as a real person.”
From boyhood, young Yorgos Kyriakou Panayiotou, as he was born, was interested only in music and rejected parental pressure to prepare for a fall-back career. At high school in the northern suburb of Bushey, Ridgeley was his first and best friend.
“There was the aftermath of ‘Saturday Night Fever,'” Michael recalled. “Andrew and I wore overalls, and you had dance routines all worked out before you went to the clubs. We were urban white kids that listened to the black disco music of that period.” ‘
He said he was much influenced by the American Motown sound whose strength, he says, was to make a commercially successful blend of black music that whites also enjoyed.
The two friends formed a band and kept writing songs. Nine months after they finished school, they had a recording contract and five months later Wham! had its first hit single.
The pair with their big backing band did two concert tours last year in the United States. The second trip consisted of 8 stadium dates with crowds as big as 60,000.
Experts in the music business say Michael has real songwriting talent.’-But he has an unorthodox approach.
“It sounds unprofessional and dangerous because I might have a bump on the head at any moment,” he said “but almost all the songs I’ve written for the new album are totally in my head. If they are good enough, they’ll stay there.”
- Last Wham! Interview: No. 1 Magazine (1986)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
- Wham! You’re On Your Own, George (Sunday Times, 1986)
- Andrew Ridgeley on Life With and After Wham! (Hello!, 1997)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)